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Ohio to Erie Trail, Cincinnati to Cleveland. Another short tour

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Ohio to Erie Trail, Cincinnati to Cleveland. Another short tour

Old 01-15-20, 05:56 PM
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smudgy
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Ohio to Erie Trail, Cincinnati to Cleveland. Another short tour

The Ohio to Erie Trail is a great 4 or 5 day short tour. Some people can't take 3 months vacation at once to ride across the country. This was my second short tour of 2019. I made a video. I hope you like it.
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Old 01-16-20, 08:14 AM
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Thanks for watching and taking the time to comment. It was a short section that was under water, a low area that probably floods easily. And its probably only like that after heavy rain. Had I known the trail was flooded, I could have easily bypassed it on roads. But it did make the video more interesting! Its a great trail, enjoy.
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Old 01-16-20, 10:13 AM
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Originally Posted by robow View Post
Well done ! Thanks for sharing. I and a few friends will be making our way from Cincy to Cleveland this May via the trail but you have me a little concerned about the flooded towpath at that time of year. It's true that we had a ton of rain this past year in the Midwest and when I was touring in upper Ohio this past June, I did see some mild flooding and a ton of farm land that never got planted because of all the rain, soooo, let's hope lightning won't strike twice in back to back years.
I've been down that Canal Fulton stretch a couple of times, both times it either was raining or had been raining recently. Both times in late May. Never saw flooding like that. So hopefully that level of flooding is not a common concern.

I enjoyed that video. I've ridden that route, but never all at once. I've gone between Akron and Columbus a number of times, but I've only done the Cincinnati to Columbus stretch once, and I've only done Akron to Cleveland once. I'm thinking of doing it as a credit card tour with my wife (who does not camp) in 2021. I was glad to see the Kokosing Gap stretch called out. That's my favourite stretch of the trail. I may do Cincinnati to the Bridge of Dreams this spring if I can pull together enough vacation time.
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Old 01-16-20, 01:05 PM
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Thanks Rob for putting my mind at ease. We are probably going to do the route over 6 days and therefore average closer to 55 - 60 miles per day so that we can do some exploring just off the trail. Not sure yet if we are going to Camp the entire way but hopefully there will be adequate places to pitch a tent.
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Old 01-16-20, 02:45 PM
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Originally Posted by robow View Post
Thanks Rob for putting my mind at ease. We are probably going to do the route over 6 days and therefore average closer to 55 - 60 miles per day so that we can do some exploring just off the trail. Not sure yet if we are going to Camp the entire way but hopefully there will be adequate places to pitch a tent.
Looks like smudgy made it work. Did he camp in Xenia? There are some tricky spots if you want to stick to designated camping areas. I started from Cincinnati later in the day, and stayed with a Warm Showers host the first night because it didn't seem like there would be good camping close enough to get to before dark. Then I stayed at Ceasar's Creek State Park, which would be doable from Cinci if you started early enough, but the road to the actual campground is not a great biking road. There's a horse camping area a mile or two off the trail along some quiet roads, and I would look into staying there.

Free camping trailside in London, not far from Columbus. Then Smudgy found the other area that find to be problematic: Northeast of Columbus, I don't think there's an official campsite until Massilon, which is further than I would be willing to go in a day. He's not the first account I've seen of someone staying at the Bridge of Dreams pavilion in Brinkhaven/Gann. I don't think it's a sanctioned camping area, but it's probably a safe and quiet area. I think I read of someone staying trailside right in Kilbuck, a little further down the road, with the blessing of the local authorities. Then there are a couple of options south of Akron and one just north of Akron. Used to be a place (reservation only) in the Cuyahoga Valley park, but I think that's closed. But the free spot north of Akron will get you within a days ride of Cleveland. It's the stretch between Columbus and Massilon that's the one place I don't know of a good option for other than stealth camping.
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Old 01-16-20, 05:17 PM
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I stayed in hotels every night (Xenia, Columbus, Massilon, Cleveland) except Bridge of Dreams. I don't think sleeping under the pavilion is a sanctioned camping area, but there is a porta-toilet there. People were driving in and shining headlights throughout the night, but no major bothers. It was the weekend and I think I was in their favorite party spot. I think there is sanctioned camping near Bridge of Dreams, just off trail, but it was late and I was tired and didn't feel like searching. It looked like there may have been some unsanctioned stealth opportunities nearby as well, if you have the mind for that sort of thing.
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Old 01-17-20, 11:09 AM
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I was holding off watching this.... but I couldn't hold back.

I did the ~50-60 miles from Galloway to south of Spring Valley last Fall as part of a 2 day door-to-door ride to a family members' place (didn't make the arrival door by bike, but I got close). That was the best riding experience I ever had. As you note in the video - the paved trails are very nice.

My goal is to ride more of that route this coming year. I am not sure how I want to do it, I usually like all my rides/day tours to start "at the door". I am around Columbus and I could pick up the trail in Westerville or Galloway and both are 15-20 miles in town just to get to the trail. Double that for an out/back ride and I'm already at 30-40 miles before I get any "trail time".

I enjoyed your mention of the wind and the flooded sections. I've rode a lot over central Ohio farm country and it certainly can get windy across the fields. If the wind is behind you that's one thing, but from the side or front and it gets to be quite a challenge. That is ultimately what put a stop to my ride. I made the climb (on foot) up out of the Miami River valley at the trail towards Red Lion - an initial 200ft climb to higher (much more) hilly terrain and also up in to the wind. At that time and direction I was going it was a cross wind and with being on a high-traffic road with no shoulder I couldn't stick to the road in the gusts without swerving all over among the traffic so I threw the towel in. As to the flooded sections - that is a point very well taken. As you say, it may be rare that the water gets up that high, but it can certainly make for some unexpected challenge/adventure on the route.

I did not think about buggies using the trail. I have a friend in Millersburg and recall that end of the state being quite populated with Amish so that makes sense. In any event, that was really interesting to see them using the "trail" as well.

I was not aware of the shuttle service... I will look in to that. Thanks for the tip.

In any event, I enjoyed my ride a lot and your video just made me want to ride the rest of it even more! Thanks for sharing.
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Old 01-17-20, 05:23 PM
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The shuttle service is out of Columbus. If you contact them in advance and give them a 'heads up', they will pick you up anywhere along the trail and drop you off anywhere along the trail between Cleveland and Cincinnati. It was a great deal. also try www.ohiotoerietrail.org. Lots of good info.

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Old 01-17-20, 06:07 PM
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Nice video. I rode this in late August, 2018. Ohio is a lovely state.
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Old 01-17-20, 09:29 PM
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Awesome Ride & Super cool video! Makes me want to start doing trip rides like this.
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Old 01-17-20, 10:43 PM
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While I've got all this experience here: If we hotel the trip, does this seem doable as to finding lodging? and what changes would you make ?
Day 1 Cincy to Xenia, 67 miles
Day 2 Xenia to Columbus, about 60 miles
Day 3 Columbus to Mt. Vernon 50 miles
Day 4 Mt. Vernon to Millersburg 41 miles
Day 5 Millersburg to Akron 68 miles
Day 6 Akron to Erie about 45 miles
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Old 01-18-20, 12:19 AM
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I don't recall all of the amenities in Mt. Vernon or Millersburg, but they seem large enough to have lodging. Other than that, it seems reasonable to me. What changes did I make? I did it in 5 days instead of 6, but I ended up sleeping outside 1 night, which you probably don't want to do. And I don't blame you. If one were in a hurry, it could probably be done in 4.
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Old 01-18-20, 07:14 AM
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Another option for camping near Xenia is to continue north on the Little Miami trail to Yellow Springs and the John Bryan State Park campground. Then you can take local roads east to get back to the OTE trail or backtrack to Xenia if you want to stay on trails. The campground is about 10 miles north of Xenia, so about 75 miles out from Cincinnati.
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Old 01-19-20, 06:28 AM
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Another great video! You have a really good eye and talent in putting these together, especially the ride-by shots and the overhead views. Did your wife go along on this one like she did on the Natchez Trace?
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Old 01-19-20, 08:40 AM
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UKFan4Sure; Thanks for taking the time to comment. No, my wife stayed home on this one. I've got another video coming out soon. 5 days on the Erie Canal in NY.
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Old 01-19-20, 08:46 PM
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Well done video and narration. Iím an hour east of Cleveland along the lake in small town Madison. I mostly stick local but an added week of pto this year may offer more bike riding. Always enjoy a Mail Pouch barn pic. Hereís one in town. Cheers, Kevin.
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Old 01-19-20, 10:51 PM
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Originally Posted by robow View Post
While I've got all this experience here: If we hotel the trip, does this seem doable as to finding lodging? and what changes would you make ?
Day 1 Cincy to Xenia, 67 miles
Day 2 Xenia to Columbus, about 60 miles
Day 3 Columbus to Mt. Vernon 50 miles
Day 4 Mt. Vernon to Millersburg 41 miles
Day 5 Millersburg to Akron 68 miles
Day 6 Akron to Erie about 45 miles
Iíve done Millersburgh to Akron in a day with full camping gear, so Iím sure it can be done as a hotel trip, but that is one of the worst stretches for hills. Itís the day with the most miles on roads as well. If I were to plan this trip, Iíd look to see where you could stay before you get to Akron to shift a few of those Day 5 miles to Day 6.
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Old 01-19-20, 11:05 PM
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Rob, you bring up a very good point but I am striking out when trying to find lodging anywhere near the trail leading up to Akron without having to ride away from the trail for several miles, which would defeat the purpose, but I'll definitely keep looking into it. Thanks.
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Old 01-19-20, 11:49 PM
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The 6 day trip sounds nice and relaxing.
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Old 01-21-20, 09:06 AM
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Originally Posted by robow View Post
Rob, you bring up a very good point but I am striking out when trying to find lodging anywhere near the trail leading up to Akron without having to ride away from the trail for several miles, which would defeat the purpose, but I'll definitely keep looking into it. Thanks.
Looks like the OP stayed in Massillon. Although some of that decision might depend on the forecast. While I've never encountered the flooding that smudge hit, if it happens, that section is the part between Massillon and Akron. Also, while I find the hilly, on-road section to be exhausting, one of the worst riding experiences I've had on the trail was riding in the rain from Cleveland to Akron on the towpath trail. Some kind of limestone/clay surface that, when it got nice and wet, just pulled at my tires the whole way and coated the underside of my bike. After Massillon, it's largely paved, I think, but the surface of the trail as it runs through the Cuyahoga River Valley was unpleasant when soaked, although it drained quickly when the rain let up. So I guess there are reasons why a shorter day six would be better if the weather is questionable. The best of both worlds might be to try and get a few more miles in after Millersburg, but unless there's someplace to stay in Fredericksburg, that's probably not an option.

Also, while those hills are exhausting for an old, fat man who carries his camping gear and always overpacks, I'm sure they are not that bad for someone traveling light. In fact, a young, Amish girl just toodled past me, riding her bike up the hill that I was currently pushing my bike up in that stretch.
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Old 01-21-20, 09:46 AM
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Originally Posted by robow View Post
Rob, you bring up a very good point but I am striking out when trying to find lodging anywhere near the trail leading up to Akron without having to ride away from the trail for several miles, which would defeat the purpose, but I'll definitely keep looking into it. Thanks.
Stealth camp. Problem solved.
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Old 01-21-20, 09:51 AM
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Yep, no hotels anywhere near Fredericksburg and then staying at Massillon creates one only 38 mile day and at least 70 on the final day into Cleveland. Would like to keep that final day a little shorter so we can check out some sights and may want to shuttle back that same day, maybe not. Still not sure what our group wants to do as to camping vs. hotels or a mix. Personally I don't care but I HATE carrying all my camping gear and then end up sleeping in a hotel every night but say one.
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Old 01-21-20, 09:54 AM
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Originally Posted by KC8QVO View Post
Stealth camp. Problem solved.
Tougher to stealth camp when you have a small group vs. just yourself.
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Old 01-21-20, 10:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Kdogbikes View Post
Always enjoy a Mail Pouch barn pic. Here’s one in town. Cheers, Kevin.
I, like smudgy , am NOT a tobacco user (never have been, never will be). I'd venture to guess the majority of us on this forum are of the same thoughts.

However, I imagine a lot of people don't understand these signs advocating for (specifically) Mailpouch tobacco.

These are historical landmarks. You will find them all over the midwest and Appalachia. They started showing up earlier in the 1910's. Farmers were paid advertisement fees for the signs - on their own barns. Oddly enough, there were regulations in much later years in a lot of areas that limited, and prohibited, road side advertising. However, the Mailpouch Tobacco "barn signs" were exempt because of their historical significance.

The majority of these signs were painted by a guy named Harley Warrick. He started painting them with the Mailpouch crew after WWII. He is credited with having painted some 20,000 signs. Mailpouch discontinued their advertising campaign in the 1970's but, oddly enough, the signs were still popular and Harley Warrick was contracted privately to paint these up until 1995. In that period of time the federal government prohibited large scale tobacco advertising to the public.

Going back to the historical significance - Tobacco was a huge cash-crop in the same regions you find the signs. Cash-crops are the money-makers in the agricultural world. In the early to mid 1900's Tobacco was a large cash crop, as are Corn and Soybeans today. Anyone in this country that has roots in agriculture likely can trace their heritage back to farmers in the early to mid 1900's that produced tobacco.

In today's day in age where we understand the health risks associated with tobacco it is easy to have the "modern" view on tobacco, and thus tobacco advertisement, as being "distasteful" or "low-class". However, it is worth some reading to broaden your horizons and understand the history behind these signs. There were a lot of families' ways of life that disappeared throughout the midwest and Appalachia over the course of time. If you know much about antiques and antiquing - these Mailpouch Tobacco signs are just that on a large scale. There is a lot of heritage behind both the signs (where they are and what they are on) as well as the product they are advertising (tobacco and those who grew it supporting their families).
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Old 01-21-20, 11:17 AM
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Originally Posted by robow View Post
Yep, no hotels anywhere near Fredericksburg and then staying at Massillon creates one only 38 mile day and at least 70 on the final day into Cleveland. Would like to keep that final day a little shorter so we can check out some sights and may want to shuttle back that same day, maybe not. Still not sure what our group wants to do as to camping vs. hotels or a mix. Personally I don't care but I HATE carrying all my camping gear and then end up sleeping in a hotel every night but say one.
If you're camping, there's a free site just a half a mile south of the Franklin trailhead south of Akron. Nice spot, but I do believe there were train sounds and sounds from the road. No facilities. Pit toilet at the Franklin Trailhead, but I don't even know if there's water to be had. But free, and it shifts a few miles from day 5 to day 6.

But possibly still worth getting a hotel in Millersburg because I don't know of any official campsites within 30 miles of there.
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