GREENE COUNTY — On my recent bike trip from Xenia Station south to Spring Valley, I learned just how important signs can be while you’re tooling along the Little Miami Trail.
Heck any trail, for that matter. Miss a sign and you could find yourself caught up in the scenery and several miles from where you were supposed to be.
Before any local bike ride on the trails, the Greene County Parks & Trails website is a terrific preview of whatever trail you plan on using in the area. The site (gcparkstrails.com) provides you with information about the trails themselves, and even shows a vertical map that shows various roadways and landmarks you can expect to see along your way.
So, having read the GCP&T preview for my southern Little Miami Scenic Trail ride to Spring Valley, I was aware that the one-way trip should be roughly 6.6 miles.
‘Mere child’s play for this suddenly seasoned bicycling expert,’ I was thinking to myself, while busy patting myself on the back.
Between the rides I’m doing in the Greene County area, and my ongoing pursuit of a T-shirt for completing the 125-mile Five Rivers MetroParks Bike for Health Challenge in the Dayton area, a mere 6.6 miles seems easy these days. I could get foolishly cocky and think I could run that, these days.
I figured I’d jump on the trail, head south, enjoy the scenery, look for a sign saying “Spring Valley,” pay a visit to my new friends at Kickstand Lodging to thank them for sponsoring this column, … then come back. Easy peezy.
I can neither confirm nor deny that my vision may have become obscured when the pretty blonde rollerbladder wiggled by, but I completely missed any sign for Spring Valley!
The trail will occasionally have painted markers on it that show your distance in miles from Xenia Station, and that ultimately kept me from probably pedaling my lost self to Cincinnati. My planned 13-mile trip ended up being 22.
As I said before, the Parks & Trails guide said the trip to Spring Valley would be 6.6 miles. So when the painted trail marker was reading 11, my keen navigational intellect helped me to determine that I’d screwed up big time.
But hey, I’m kinda glad that I did ride down that far. In my opinion, the area around the Spring Valley Wildlife Area (which I later learned was about 2.5 miles SOUTH of Spring Valley) is the prettiest section of the trail I was on. And that’s saying a lot, because the entire trail from Xenia south into …well, Warren County … is lush greenery, with sections where the Little Miami River runs parallel to the trail.
In the Spring Valley Wildlife Area, there’s this huge expanse of a pond just off to the east. I was stunned to see probably 50 beautiful white cranes all stoically motionless in the water, just waiting for their next meal to swim by. It’s out in seemingly the middle of nowhere, and I found it to be very awe inspiringly beautiful.
So after taking in the area’s beauty, I turned my Schwinn mountain bike northward in search of Spring Valley. And when I was careful not to be distracted by anyone or anything…
(Cue angelic choir music)
… I saw the sign this time!
It’s a smaller sign than what I’ve seen proclaiming the likes of Cedarville or Beavercreek, but it was a well constructed sign posted right alongside the Little Miami Trail, complete with distances for the other landmarks and towns that the trail could lead.
Just off the pathway to the east, there was Kickstand Lodging at 17 W. Main St. there in Spring Valley. Even better, inside Kickstand Lodging on the main floor is a Two Scoops ice cream parlor! On yet another hot and muggy day, the medium vanilla milkshake that I had there really hit the spot. I drank the rest of it on my way back into Xenia, and I look forward to going back again.
So far, I’ve been to Cedarville, to Beavercreek and the Montgomery County line, and now Spring Valley and the Warren County line. That leaves me with the Fairborn trails, the Jamestown Connector, and the north end of the Little Miami Trail into Yellow Springs to still complete.
I’m not sure which trail I’ll be doing next, but if it’s as enjoyable as the previous three rides have been, I know I’ll be looking forward to it.
Animal count: The chipmunk streak continues! I saw three on this ride. Oh, and keep an eye out for garter snakes that like to sun themselves on the hot pavement. I nearly ran over one on this trip. I think he was as surprised to see me as I was to see him.