Ohio’s Amish Country – Holmes County, OH

Holmes County Trail, Ohio
Holmes County Trail, Ohio

We took a road trip to Holmes County, OH in late July 2016 for Julianne to ride the Holmes County Bike Trail and the Mohican Valley Bike Trail.  (I will have Bike Trail posts about both of these coming soon)

While she rode, I visited a few of the places in the area.  I had visited the area in 2008, including the town of Charm.  (See my post HERE) In another trip in the early 2000s, we had also visited the unique town of Berlin.  I never did a post about the town and hope to make it there again sometime in the future.  On this particular visit, we didn’t make it to that part of Holmes County.  Rather, we focused on the towns surrounding the bike trails, beginning with Fredericksburg, OH and ending in Danville, OH.

Holmes County Trail map - Fredericksburg to Holmesville, OH
Holmes County Trail map – Fredericksburg to Holmesville, OH

DSC_7150We took the five hour drive to Fredericksburg, OH, a small community of a little over 400 people.  This is where the Holmes County trail begins at the northern end. I dropped Julianne off at the trailhead, which is located right near the town park.

Fredericksburg Town Limit
Fredericksburg Town Limit

DSC_7162Fredericksburg is home to two factories, Mrs. Miller’s Homemade Noodles and Robin Industries. Mrs. Miller’s Homemade Noodles specializes in various kinds of pasta as well as jams and jellies distributed throughout the United States.  I saw three different facilities while driving around the town.

An Amish buggy takes on a Mustang on a road in Fredericksburg
An Amish buggy takes on a Mustang on a road in Fredericksburg
An Amish buggy "speeds" along a road near Fredericksburg, OH
An Amish buggy “speeds” along a road near Fredericksburg, OH

It is also a town frequented by the Amish and one can see their buggies around the town.

The town and surrounding area features Amish furniture shops, Amish cheese shops, and even a working blacksmith shop.  (See shop list HERE) There is apparently a car wash that can also be used for the buggies.

The Fredericksburg Library is located in an old building
The Fredericksburg Library is located in an old building
Main Street Fredericksburg, OH
Main Street Fredericksburg, OH
Welcome to Holmesville, OH
Welcome to Holmesville, OH

From Fredericksburg, I drove south on OH County Road 192 to Holmesville which was the next town along the trail.

The drive to Holmesville went along some lovely cornfields and other farmland. The roadside was dotted with sunflower fields and wildflowers as well.

Parrot Farms surrounding by large corn fields
Parrot Farms surrounding by large corn fields
Sunflower Fields on the side of OH 192 between Fredericksburg and Holmesville
Sunflower Fields on the side of OH  CR 192 between Fredericksburg and Holmesville
Sharing the Trail...buggies to the left and bikes to the right.
Sharing the Trail…buggies to the left and bikes to the right.

The Holmes County Trail is a unique bike trail in that bikers share the trail with Amish Buggies.  The trails have signage for both and there were instances during the day where I saw both bikes and buggies.

The trail runs along some beautiful farmland (as did my drive). It made for a nice scenic ride for Julianne.

A bridge scene of the Holmes County Trail near Homlmesville
A bridge scene of the Holmes County Trail near Holmesville
Map of trail from Holmesville to Millersburg
Map of trail from Holmesville to Millersburg
Welcome to Millersburg
Welcome to Millersburg

The next section of drive is along Ohio Highway 83 which goes to the larger town of Millersburg, OH, which is in the heart of Ohio’s Amish Country.  There are many shops here and the town is just a few minutes west of Berlin. When I visited Berlin a few years ago, we visited the large Heini’s Cheese Chalet, but I had never written a post about it.  Though I didn’t visit it on this trip (its address is in Millersburg, but it is actually closer to Berlin), here are a few photos from my visit in 2011.

Welcome to Heini's - taken on a trip to Holmes County in 2011
Welcome to Heini’s – taken on a trip to Holmes County in 2011
Old milk cans used to bring the milk in to make the cheese
Old milk cans used to bring the milk in to make the cheese
An old Amish man relaxes in Hein's - taken in July 2011
An old Amish man relaxes in Heini’s – taken in July 2011
Large mural on Heini's
Large mural on Heini’s
One of a number of Stained Glass pieces in Heini's - taken in July 2011
One of a number of Stained Glass pieces in Heini’s – taken in July 2011
A large cheese mural located in Heini's Cheese Chalet - taken in July 2011
A large cheese mural located in Heini’s Cheese Chalet – taken in July 2011
All kinds of cheeses can be found in Heini's and they'll gladly cut the cheese for you.
All kinds of cheeses can be found in Heini’s and they’ll gladly cut the cheese for you.
Welcome to Hipp Station in Millersburg
Welcome to Hipp Station in Millersburg

Millersburg is also home to Hipp Station, the main information center for the Holmes County Trail.   It houses the Millersburg Depot which contains a shop, information, refreshments, etc.

There are nice benches to relax and, as it is right on the bike trail, it is a good place to look at the  bikers and buggies ride by.

Millersburg Depot
Millersburg Depot/Hipp Station on Holmes County Trail
Trail Sign in Millersburg, OH
Trail Sign in Millersburg, OH
Holmes County Trail in Millersburg, OH
Holmes County Trail in Millersburg, OH
Downtown Millersburg, OH in the heart of Amish Country
Downtown Millersburg, OH in the heart of Amish Country

A drive through Millersburg also provides a look at some old fashioned signs from the past.  Its a quaint little town and there are even a few fun surprises!

I had fun seeing the old 70’s style Laundromat sign and the old 7 UP sign.

Old Laundromat Sign, Millersburg, OH
Old Laundromat Sign, Millersburg, OH
7 Up sign at Elks building in Millersburg, OH
7 Up sign at Elks building in Millersburg, OH

And then there is the fun surprise….Millersburg is a place where the streets (at least one of them) have No Name!

No Name St. in Millersburg, OH. Now THAT is a unique road name
No Name St. in Millersburg, OH. Now THAT is a unique road name
Holmes Country Trail Map 3
Map of trail from Millersburg to Killbuck
Killbuck Depot on the Holmes County Trail
Killbuck Depot on the Holmes County Trail

The final rideable section of the Holmes County Trail takes riders from Millersburg to the village of Killbuck, ending at the old Killbuck Depot on Main Street (OH County Road 622).  Basically, I drove down US Route 62 (the Amish Country Byway) from Millersburg to the CR 622 turnoff. Its a nice drive and Killbuck is in a nice region of the county.

Welcome to Killbuck
Welcome to Killbuck

Julianne was fortunate to get into Killbuck just as a heavy duty thunderstorm emerged.  We got her into the car dry as the deluge hit.

Here comes the deluge. We saw this on our way to Brinkhaven.
Here comes the deluge. We saw this on our way to Brinkhaven.
Welcome to Glenmont, OH
Welcome to Glenmont, OH

The Holmes County Trail from Killbuck to Glenmont is closed, so Julianne’s bike was loaded and we headed to Brinkhaven (via Glenmont), which is the beginning of the Mohican Valley Bike Trail and also home to the “Bridge of Dreams,” the second longest covered bridge in Ohio.  I dropped Julianne off at the paved beginning of the trail near a tunnel that goes under US 62.

Mohican Valley Trail tunnel at the Brinkhaven trailhead
Mohican Valley Trail tunnel at the Brinkhaven trailhead
Welcome to Brinkhaven
Welcome to Brinkhaven

As Julianne rode down the trail, I returned to US 62 to head to the “Bridge of Dreams.”  Just near the tunnel is one of the iconic Mail Pouch Barns.  Many of these barns emblazoned with a Mail Pouch ad dot the southeast.

Mail Pouch Barn in Brinkhaven, OH
Mail Pouch Barn in Brinkhaven, OH
Mohican Valley Trail
Mohican Valley Trail

The Mohican Valley Trail is only a 4.5 mile stretch of bike trail that links the Kokosing Gap Trail (a 14.5 mile trail from Danville, OH to Mt. Vernon, OH) and the Holmes County Trail (currently connects to the primitive portion of the trail at the tunnel above).

The Mohican Valley Trail basically runs from Brinkhave, OH to Danville, OH.  Its major feature, as noted above, is the 370 foot long “Bridge of Dreams.” This classic covered bridge is of interest to all and is easily accessible by car visitors as well.

The 370 foot long Bridge of Dreams over the Mohican River near Brinkhaven.
The 370 foot long Bridge of Dreams over the Mohican River near Brinkhaven

DSC_7212The Bridge of Dreams was originally built in the 1920s as a railroad bridge, and covered in 1998. It is the second longest covered bridge in Ohio after the Smolen–Gulf Bridge over the Ashtabula River in NE Ohio (which I visited a couple of months before it opened in 2008 – see my photo HERE), and third longest covered bridge in the United States. The bridge is closed to motorized traffic but is often used by Amish buggies.

Mohican Valley Trail Map
Mohican Valley Trail Map
The Bridge of Dreams as seen from the Mohican River
The Bridge of Dreams as seen from the Mohican River
An Amish Buggy parked by the Mohican River while the Amish youth who brought it in were out swimming
An Amish Buggy parked by the Mohican River while the Amish youth who brought it in were out swimming
Amish Buggy on Mohican Valley Trail near Danville, OH
Amish Buggy on Mohican Valley Trail near Danville, OH
A Giant Adirondack Chair at an Amish Furniture place inear Danville, OH
A Giant Adirondack Chair at an Amish Furniture place inear Danville, OH

 

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Rails to Trails for Biking: An Overview

Julianne the biker!
Julianne the biker!

In recent weeks, my wife Julianne has taken to riding on bike trails around the upper Midwest. In the past few weeks she has ridden bike trails in Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Kentucky, and will soon be on a nice trail in Virginia.

Yield signsShe is finding these very enjoyable and has done some with her sister and some with our daughter Marissa, and one even with the grandchildren.  As a support driver I enjoy taking her and driving the back roads to meet her (and the others) along the trail.
DSC_4726Many of my upcoming blog posts will cover some of these scenic bike trails, many which are called Rails to Trails. This post is an overview of these trails with links to my posts below and also brief details about the  Rails to Trails movement and some of the things that are going on with that around the country.
TrailLink
As some railroads have gone defunct or gone out of business, the rails have been pulled up and trails have been made to replace them. These trails include the bridges and trestles, assorted tunnels (some of which are very long) and, of course,  the wonderful scenery that these old railroad tracks pass through.
RTCLogoThis whole movement was started by the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy which transforms unused rail corridors into vibrant public places—ensuring a better future for America made possible by trails and the connections they inspire.   According to their website, the “RTC serves as the national voice for more than 160,000 members and supporters, 30,000 miles of rail-trails and multi-use trails, and more than 8,000 miles of potential trails waiting to be built, with a goal of creating more walkable, bikeable communities in America.”  It has been in operation since 1986 and the trails continue to get placed all over. The RTC History can be seen in detail here.
DSC_4022Julianne has fallen in love with these and I have too!  Currently I only provide vehicular support, but I hope to be on the trail with her in the near future after I am able to get a bike.  In the meantime, I am thrilled to drive the back roads nearby and see the small towns.  Those too will be documented.
Not all of the Bike Trails are “Rails to Trails” trails.  There are others such as the Legacy Trail in Lexington which has been built specifically as a bike trail…from scratch.  These too will be covered.
DSC_4724Much of the documentation on the bike trails centers on the trails, but little is written about the “support” roads that a driver would want to take to meet the riders along these long trails, if wanted or needed.  I have made efforts to document this in photos and will provide details in the posts on each trail…including maps when needed. (If links are not live, then the posts are still being worked on)
BlackPump2Finally, I have worked with Julianne to rate the trails.  She will rate them from 1 pump (poor) to 5 pumps (excellent).  Each separate post will include her comments about the specific trail.  Comments and details will be in each individual post, but the ratings are also shown below with just a couple of comments.

THE TRAILS

Following is a growing list of trails — long and short — that we have covered.  Check back here often as I will update links here and minor details as new trails are taken.

legacytrail_logosmall

BlackPump4THE LEGACY TRAIL – Lexington, KY (Click here for Trail Post with photos)

Click here for RTC TrailLink Details

DSC_4870The first of the trails is perhaps our most visited due to proximity to where we live.  It is the “middle of the week” riding trail for my wife and occasionally my daughter who joins her on these trips.

The Legacy Trail runs north and south through Lexington among green spaces, neighborhoods and parks. The trail joins the Kentucky Horse Park and the Lexington YMCA. (There are plans to extend it south beyond the YMCA to the memorial art garden named for African American jockey, and multiple Kentucky Derby champion, Isaac Murphy).

DSC_4868This trail is about 12 miles long and is completely asphalt.  Julianne typically takes it form the Coldstream Parking Lot, so it is a bit shorter.  But, she adds an additional 8 miles with a ride along the roads in the Kentucky Horse Park.

OhioErieCanalway

BlackPump3Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail – Cuyahoga Valley N.P., OH  (Click here for Trail Post with photos)

Click here for RTC TrailLink Details

Julianne and Laura on the Erie Towpath
Julianne and Laura on the Erie Towpath

Julianne and her sister Laura rode a portion of the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail while on a trip to Ohio in early May 2016. We made a visit to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park after we found that part of the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath runs through that park.  Julianne and Laura rode about a 10 mile section of this 85 mile long path which actually runs from Scranton Flats in Cleveland down to Bolivar, Ohio.  While they rode the predominantly crushed gravel trail, I visited some sites in the National Park.

Montour Trail cycle logo
BlackPump4Montour Trail – Pittsburgh, PA  (Click here for Trail Post with photos)

Click here for RTC TrailLink Details

Julianne at the Montour Trail in Pennsylvania
Julianne at the Montour Trail in Pennsylvania

On another trip in May 2016, Julianne visited her sister in Canonsburg, PA. Right outside of Canonsburg is the Montour Trail which actually runs from the northwest of Pittsburgh (starting at Moon Township), down through Pittsburgh and into Canonsburg area. It is about a 30 mile trail. The unique thing about that trail is that it also meets up with a much larger trail called the Great Allegheny Passage Trail.  Complete from Pittsburgh to Cumberland, MD, the 150-mile Great Allegheny Passage connects with the 184.5-mile C&O Rail Trail to create a 335-mile non-motorized route between Pittsburgh and Washington, DC.  They hope to ride the complete trail in 2017.

DawkinsLine
BlackPump3halfDawkins Line Rail Trail – Swamp Branch, KY  (Click here for Trail Post with photos)

Click here for RTC TrailLink Details

Julianne riding the Dawkins Line Trail in SE Kentucky
Julianne riding the Dawkins Line Trail in SE Kentucky

In early June 2016 Julianne and I  took a trip down to Salyersville, KY (actually to the small village of Royalton) in the mountains of southeastern Kentucky. This was at the trail head of the Dawkins Line Rail Trail, the longest Rail Trail in Kentucky.  It is currently 18 miles long, but will be extended to 36 miles in the next year or two. The second half of the trail was to be completed and opened to the public in November 2015, but was still not completed on our visit. It will supposedly extend farther west into Breathitt County and will include access to the 1,556-foot Tip Top Tunnel. The trail passes by historical coal structures, goes over 24 scenic trestles and also includes the Gun Creek Tunnel, which spans nearly 700 feet. It was the first trail that she had been on with a tunnel.

MiamiValley
BlackPump5Little Miami Scenic Trail – Southern Section – Xenia, OH (Click here for Trail Post with photos)

Click here for RTC TrailLink Details

Julianne and David at Xenia Station on the Little Miami Scenic Trail
Julianne and David at Xenia Station on the Little Miami Scenic Trail

In mid-June 2016 we made our first trip to Ohio so Julianne could ride the southern portion of the Little Miami Scenic Trail, a 78 mile trail that stretches from Springfield, OH (north of Columbus) all the way to Newton, OH (just outside of Cincinnati). On this trip she decided to take the southern half of the trail, from the main Xenia Station to the small town of Morrow (the trail actually goes all the way to Loveland, but it was a bit too far to ride that day.)  as of this trip, Julianne has been happiest about this particular trail, thus a Five Pump rating.

Signage on Little Miami Trail
Signage on Little Miami Trail

The trail is paved all the way and has lovely shady areas, some nice bridges and also links to a number of other trails that comprise the 330-mile network of paved, off-road trails in Ohio’s Miami Valley.  Eventually this trail will be a link in a trail that will go from the Ohio River in Cincinnati all the way to Lake Erie in Cleveland (called the Ohio to Erie Trail).

 

 

 

NorthBend

BlackPump3North Bend Rail Trail – Cedar Grove, WV (Click here for Trail Post with photos)

Click here for RTC TrailLink Details

Julianne and Laura at the North Bend Rail Trail HQ in Cairo, WV
Julianne and Laura at the North Bend Rail Trail HQ in Cairo, WV

In late June 2016 Julianne once again met up with her sister in West Virginia for a ride down the North Bend Rail Trail. It is a 72-mile trail in north-central and western West Virginia and is operated by West Virginia State Parks.  It is also part of the and is part of the American Discovery Trail.  On our June trip, we started at North Bend State Park and she and her sister rode west to Cedar Grove (Happy Valley).  The trail has 13 tunnels that were originally constructed by the B&O railroad. One of the tunnels, nearly 2000 feet long, is also supposedly haunted.

North Bend Trail signage
North Bend Trail signage

Julianne rated this trail a three due to the nature of the trail.  There are parts with rough, sharp gravel that are not conducive to hybrid tires.  But, on the other hand, the trail has some beautiful scenery.

Unfortunately for her, just after the long tunnel she got a flat tire and had to walk nearly five miles to meet me at the next location.  Cell service is scant along this trail and much of the trail is not close to any roads.

 

 

MiamiValley

BlackPump5Little Miami Scenic Trail – Northern Section – Springfield, OH (Click here for Trail Post with photos)

Click here for RTC TrailLink Details

Julianne, Marissa and grandkidz heading off on the northern section of the Little Miami Scenic Trail
Julianne, Marissa and grandkidz heading off on the northern section of the Little Miami Scenic Trail

In early July 2016 we took our daughter and her three children and headed north to Springfield, OH to catch the northern section of the Little Miami Scenic Trail.  This portion of the trail runs form Springfield, goes near a great dairy (perfect for an ice cream stop!), passes through the artsy town of Yellow Springs and makes its way into Xenia and beyond.  Like the southern section, it is all paved and very scenic.  There are a number of side trails available.

TriCtyTriangleTrl-S

BlackPump5Tri-County Triangle Trail – Washington Court House, OH (Click here for Trail Post with photos)

Click here for RTC TrailLink Details

One of the fun signs along the Tri-County Triangle Trail
One of the fun signs along the Tri-County Triangle Trail

We visited this trail in early July 2016, taking a trip up to the town of Washington Court House, OH.  Julianne rode the 32 miles into Chillicothe, OH.  Like the other Miami Valley trails, this one is paved all the way and also very scenic, though it has less shade than the Little Miami Scenic Trail. Also, unlike the Little Miami, there are many more rural areas without cell phone service.  But, Julianne said it was a fun and enjoyable ride.

Virginia Creeper

BlackPump4Virginia Creeper Trail – Damascus, VA (Click here for Trail Post with photos)

Click here for RTC TrailLink Details

Damascus calls itself Trail Town USA for a reason. The Appalachian Trail, the Virginia Creeper Trail and others come to a crossroads here.
Damascus calls itself Trail Town USA for a reason. The Appalachian Trail, the Virginia Creeper Trail and others come to a crossroads here.

Perhaps one of the most beautiful and fun rides out there, the Virginia Creeper is about 33 miles of bike riding bliss. We visited in mid-July 2016 and took the drive from Damascus, VA to White Top Station in Mt. Rogers National Recreation Area.  From there the ride begins with a nearly 17 mile downhill glide on the crushed gravel surface.  The trail goes through luscious forests, passes by a number of Christmas Tree farms and over a number of bridges and trestles into Damascus (known as Trail Town USA), which is a perfect place to stop for a break before tackling the more challenging ride to the trail’s end in Abingdon, VA.

Trestle #4 near Abingdon, VA - one of 47 trestles on the 32 mile trail
Trestle #4 near Abingdon, VA – one of 47 trestles on the 32 mile trail

Damascus has a number of Shuttle companies that will take you and your bikes to White Top and then you can ride down.  You can also catch similar shuttles in Abingdon.

Julianne rates this a 4 1/2 only because the gravel trail can be tricky.  However, young kids and older folks all seem to enjoy the downhill ride.  The last 6 miles into Abingdon is a gradual uphill battle, but doable. Definitely one of America’s MUST VISIT trails.  That is why it is a Hall of Fame Trail.

Virginia Creeper is a Rail Trail Hall of Fame trail
Virginia Creeper is a Rail Trail Hall of Fame trail

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