This is the fourth post in a continuing series of Bike Trail posts. Like the back roads of America, the recent interest in bike paths and rails-to-trails paths provides a new insight on “back roads”. Each Bike Path post will include surrounding information, vehicle support info and trail ratings as provided by my wife Julianne. One bike pump equals a “poor” rating while five pumps equals an “excellent” rating. We’ll also provide links to the RTC TrailLinks overview of the trail. Complete Trails Overview Post is HERE
Dawkins Line Rail Trail – Swamp Branch, KY (Click here for Trail Post with photos)
Kentucky’s longest and best Rails to Trail Bike Trail is the Dawkins Line Rail Trail which runs 18 miles from Royalton, KY (near Salyersville) to Hagerhill, KY (near Paintsville). The trail also has another 18 mile extension currently under construction.
This was the first trail that Julianne rode on her own. We ventured out ot this trail on a weekend in early June 2016. It was kind of scary as it is in an area that, in many places, is void of cell service. The roads for a support driver really meander away from the trail as well. But, according to Julianne, it is a beautiful trail to ride on.
Our drive from Lexington took us southeast down the Bert T. Combs Mountain Parkway from Winchester through Stanton and Campton and then into Royalton, just a few miles south of Salyersville, KY. This is a beautiful drive through the mountains of Southeast Kentucky. Royalton is on Kentucky Highway 7 which runs south from Salyersville.
Royalton is the main trailhead for this 18 mile trail. It is also home to the Rail Trail Festival, which we just missed the day before. There were still remnants of the event remaining in the main park area in Royalton. These included the “Got Muchies” Food Truck. I got a kick out of it and asked the owner of the truck if he knew it was misspelled and he said yes. He also said it was the painters’ mistake, but he was in a hurry and needed the truck and so decided to keep it as is. Too dang funny!
The main trailhead, as noted above, is in Royalton. The route has three or four places along the way with parking lots and trail information.
The trail is predominantly crushed limestone but smooth to ride on according to Julianne.
The trail has a number of nice trestles and bridges and the first one is only about 6 miles down the road for a driver. Basically, I had to leave Royalton and take KY 1635 west and up a hill to KY 867 which follows the Licking River. I traveled east on KY 867 to SE Licking River Road (KY 7/KY 867) and turned right toward Ivyton, where it turns into Gun Creek Road. A couple of miles down the road, Gun Creek heads northeast and there is a point where the Dawkins Trail crosses over the road.
KY 867 after Ivyton eventually meets KY 1888 (Burning Fork Rd.) and I headed north on that road. I then made my way to Riceville, KY(via KY 1867) until I got to KY 825. From there, KY 825 follows Dawkins northbound for quite a way eventually getting to Swamp Branch, Leander, Old Ratliff Rd. and then into Denver.
At one point 825 crosses under US 460/US 23 near Paintsville, near the Lower Greasy Post Office and into Collista. The trail ends just past Collista where KY 825 intersects with KY , near Hager Hill.
If you live in Lexington, make sure to visit our favorite bike shop “Bicycle Face.” (Not a paid promotion – we just like these guys!!)
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.
We 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
And then there is the fun surprise….Millersburg is a place where the streets (at least one of them) have No Name!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
This is the first in a continuing series of Bike Trail posts. Like the back roads of America, the recent interest in bike paths and rails-to-trails paths provides a new insight on “back roads”. Each Bike Path post will include surrounding information, vehicle support info and trail ratings as provided by my wife Julianne. One bike pump equals a “poor” rating while five pumps equals an “excellent” rating. We’ll also provide links to the RTC TrailLinks overview of the trail. Complete Trails Overview Post is HERE.
The Legacy Trail in Lexington, Kentucky is a totally paved bike trail that basically covers a 12 mile distance from downtown Lexington to the Kentucky Horse Park.
Though not a “rail trail,” per se, the trail is well-maintained, has ample parking on both the north and south ends of the trail and also includes a parking spot midway in the trail at Coldstream. All along the trail are flag banners that can be seen from quite a distance.
The trail runs through farmland after it leaves the city and then eventually enters into horse farm country. For the bikers that want a little bit more ride than the 12 mile trail offers, there is an extension that can be taken through the Kentucky Horse Park that is about 8 miles and goes through some beautiful horse farm country where one can see the plank fences, horses grazing in the fields, etc. My daughter Marissa took this video of horses following them on the trail.
The rail trails typically are straight and fairly level with slight hills and slight curve. The legacy trail, according to my wife Julianne, is a bit more challenging in that it has some pretty heavy duty Hills and there are a couple nearly 90° turns, including one at the bottom of the hill they can be even dangerous. These are a downside to this trail, as far as my wife is concerned, but since she has ridden it numerous times, she knows when to be cautious.
She loves this trail and has only rated it lower than a five because of the hills and the curves. Julianne and our daughter Marissa also enjoy adding on the Horse Park portion of this trail as it is a biweekly adventure for them to come out and get some good exercise and still get in about 16 or 17 miles of riding.
Other amenities included on this trail are drinking fountains, bike air pumping stations with a variety of useful tools and each parking area does have a portable restroom.
Other non-motorized vehicles can be used on the trail including skateboards, in-line skating and walking.
In terms of vehicular support, there are actually three areas along the trail with good parking. The main trailheads are at the Northside YMCA in Lexington (near Lexmark), the mid-trail Coldstream parking area and then the Horse Park trailhead on Iron Works Pike, across the road from the Horse Park.
There are ruminations that the trail may be extended further north towards the town of Georgetown, but I have not been able to find anything definitive regarding this at this point.