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Having lived most of my life in Columbus, it’s sometimes hard to remember that Ohio has so much beautiful nature.
From the rolling hills of southeastern Ohio to the rocky ravines of the Cuyahoga Valley, there are stunning sites around most corners. And, in my opinion, there is no better way to explore our state than the Buckeye Trail.
The Buckeye Trail is a 1,444-mile hiking and long-distance trail that encompasses the state. Part of the trail is on roads, but the parts that take you through the quiet woods are the real treat. It’s a chance to reconnect with the world around you and escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
This trail makes its way through many of the most scenic locations in the state, such as the Hocking Hills region and the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. It also goes through many small towns in Ohio, giving you a chance to explore rural Ohio at it’s best.
With COVID-19, you may have to adjust your hikes a little in order to maintain social distancing and to feel safe yourself. Maybe that means you camp instead of stopping in a bed and breakfast or that you cook over the campfire instead of sampling local treats. But no matter how you choose to experience the Buckeye Trail, you’ll have a good time.
The trail passes through some of our state’s most beloved small towns, including Yellow Springs, Loveland, Zoar, Troy, Piqua, Xenia, Dayton, and Milford. If you’re doing a thru-hike, the stops in town can provide some much needed pampering at local bed and breakfasts and restaurants. If you’re taking the trail section-by-section, they provide a marvelous opportunity to get to know a part of the state you’re not familiar with. Just remember to look up any COVID-19 guidelines for the towns you’re visiting.
The Buckeye Trail is broken into sections. Many hikers choose to take on section at a time, completing the full trail over many weekends, and sometimes even years. Only a handful of individuals have done the whole trail as a thru-hike, including Andy “Captain Blue” Niekamp who completed the 1,400+ mile Buckeye Trail in 88 days.
- Belle Valley
- Caesar Creek
- New Straitsville
- Old Man’s Cave
- Road Fork
- St. Marys
- Scioto Trail
- Sinking Spring
- West Union
There are a variety of events held on the trail throughout the year including meet-up hikes and work weeks. Meet-ups bring together hikers of all skill level, taking on sections as a group. Work weeks are made up of volunteers who spend their time maintaining the trail, including re-benching tread and clearing drainage.
Hiking with responsibility
Of course, if we all want to keep enjoying things like the Buckeye Trail, everyone needs to be responsible on the trail. Hikers are encouraged to follow the “Leave no trace” policy. The steps are simple: Plan Ahead and Prepare, Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces, Dispose of Waste Properly, Leave What You Find, Minimize Campfire Impacts, Respect Wildlife, and Be Considerate of Other Visitors. Start planning your hike here.
Happy trails, people!
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