First phase of Camp Chase Trail completed
With the recent completion of a 5.25-mile stretch of trail between Wilson Road in Madison County and Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park near Georgesville, the cross-state Ohio To Erie Trail now runs uninterrupted from Cincinnati to western Franklin County.
Metro Parks, the Friends of Madison County Parks and Trails, the Franklin County Engineer’s Office and the Ohio To Erie Trail organization will celebrate the milestone with a grand opening at 11 a.m. March 21. The ceremony will take place at the Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park canoe access parking lot, 8565 Alkire Road, Galloway. The public is welcome and encouraged to bring bicycles.
“People can’t wait to ride off-road from Columbus to Cincinnati (a distance of about 110 miles). It’s a great way to see the Ohio countryside,” said Steve Brown, Metro Parks chief landscape architect. “Whether they use the trail to walk their dog, exercise, or as a transportation benefit without having to get into a car, I think people are way excited.”
The Ohio To Erie Trail is a paved trail for pedestrians and bicyclists that runs primarily along land formerly owned by railroads and canals. When finished, it will cover 300 miles, stretching from Cincinnati to Cleveland via Columbus, Akron, and several large towns and small villages. Approximately 240 miles of the trail are complete and open to public use. The remaining miles should be finished within the next few years.
Across the entire length of the trail, large and small private and public groups have worked to make the trail a reality. Locally, over the past 12 years, Madison County trail supporters worked to extend the trail from South Charleston in Clark County to Wilson Road east of London. Two years ago, Metro Parks picked up the baton, negotiating on behalf of Madison and Franklin counties to extend the trail east from Wilson Road, through Lilly Chapel and into Franklin County along the Camp Chase Railroad.
The 5.25-mile section that ends at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park represents the first phase of the Camp Chase Trail portion of the Ohio To Erie Trail. Funds for the $4.8 million project came from the state capital budget, Metro Parks coffers, and the Ohio To Erie Trail Fund.
This past week, the Metro Parks board approved contracts for the next phase, which will extend the trail 2.4 miles from the park’s canoe access lot (the point at which Alkire Road becomes Kropp Road) to Galloway. This section is set for completion by November.
The final phase of the Camp Chase Trail will run three miles from Galloway to Sullivant Avenue on the west side of Columbus.
Completion is tentatively set for 2013. Part of the funding for this phase will come from federal transportation dollars.
Also on the planning table is a spur trail within Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, running from the canoe access lot to the Cedar Ridge portion of the park and out past the bison pastures and site of the new nature center now under construction. A timeline for the spur’s completion has not been set.
Metro Parks spokesperson Peg Hanley sees the Camp Chase Trail as a new opportunity to introduce people to Battelle Darby Metro Park which, at 7,000 square miles, is the largest metropolitan park in Ohio.
“It will bring people to our park who might not know about our park system. They can stop and see the bison and know that Battelle Darby is a friendly stop along their way,” she said.
To learn more about the Ohio To Erie Trail, go to www.ohiotoerietrail.org. For specifics about the trail segment that runs through Madison County, go to www.fmcpt.com. Metro Parks information can be accessed at www.metroparks.net.Directions to the grand opening ceremony:
From I-270, take the West Broad Street (U.S. 40) exit west. Go about five miles on Broad Street to Darby Creek Drive. Turn left on Darby Creek Drive and proceed about 3.75 miles to Alkire Road. Turn right on Alkire Road and go about 0.75 miles. The canoe access parking lot ison the left.