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Miami Valley Bikeways

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Story & Photos by Matt Bayman

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15 Trails, 350 Miles,
1 Great Adventure

   During the past several years, my son, James, and I have cycled each mile of the Miami Valley Bikeways system, which is “The Nation’s Largest Paved Trail Network.” It consists of 15 different interconnected trails in the Miami Valley and covers roughly 350 miles. More is being added all the time. Soon, Cincinnati and Cleveland, by way of Columbus and the Miami Valley, will be connected by one massive paved trail network. Campgrounds, hotels, restaurants and other amenities and attractions continue to pop up along the trails. This will likely continue as more and more people take up cycling and bicycle travel, including here in southwest Ohio. 

   After riding each of the Miami Valley Trails, James and I learned that some are better than others, but that, overall, the entire network is a rare treasure that connects some of the most interesting and eclectic places in southwest Ohio and that offers a series of fun adventures close to home. It was also a great way to spend time with my son.  

   Our first trip was a small one. It took place in 2019 and consisted of riding from Tipp City (our home) to Piqua and back again on the Great Miami Recreational Trail, which, at 77 miles, is the second longest trail in the network.

   Currently, a cyclist can hop on the Great Miami Recreational Trail in Piqua and ride all the way to Middletown without leaving the designated bike path. In 2020, James and I rode the trail from Tipp City to Middletown and back again. We did this trip, and several others in the network, over two days. We would be dropped off at the beginning of a trail with our bikes and backpacks, then cycle half of the way before finding a hotel for the night and then finishing the next day. We stopped and ate at any number of restaurants and cafes next to the trail, and took time to sightsee along the way. These were always the most enjoyable trips; they were like little vacations. 

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   Just this spring, we finished up the network by completing the southern portion of the Great Miami Recreational Trail in Hamilton and Fairfield. In the very near future, this isolated section will connect with the rest of the trail, as will the Sidney Canal Feeder Trail in Shelby County, which we rode in 2021 and really enjoyed. These additional 16 miles of trail will then make the Great Miami Recreational Trail the longest trail in the network at 93 miles long!

   In October of last year, just as the leaves were changing but the temperature wasn’t too cold, we completed what we both agree is the best trail in the network—the Little Miami Scenic Trail. I think a lot of other people would agree. 

   The trail is 78 miles long and connects Springfield with the eastern suburbs of Cincinnati. It comes within miles of the Ohio River and passes through some of the most picturesque and bicycle-friendly towns in Ohio, including Yellow Springs, Xenia, Waynesville and Loveland, not to mention three state parks, Kings Island, the Fort Ancient Historical Site and Glen Helen Nature Preserve, among others. In between these landmarks are long stretches of woods (often hugging the Little Miami River), deep ravines and peaceful and quiet farmland. A covered bridge crosses the bike path just south of Yellow Springs and another one is located near the trail in Morrow. There are bed and breakfasts, hotels, campgrounds and cabins near the trail and many great restaurants and attractions to enjoy. 

   Although James and I didn’t do it, a fun three-day, two-night (or longer) trip would be to complete the Simon Kenton Trail and the Little Miami Scenic Trail at the same time—a total distance of 110 miles, with stops for the night in Yellow Springs, Waynesville or Loveland, or maybe even at the Great Wolf Lodge in Mason. 

   The Simon Kenton Trail, which was also one of our favorites, starts in Bellefontaine and ends at the Little Miami Scenic Trail in downtown Springfield. The only problem with this option is that, from Bellefontaine to Urbana, the Simon Kenton Trail is made of gravel. This is fine for mountain bikes, which we use, but it’s a little harder on road bikes.

   Connected to the Simon-Kenton Trail in Springfield is the Buck Creek Scenic Trail. It connects Springfield with Buck Creek State Park. While the official trail is somewhat short at 6 miles, the state park contains even more trails to ride, plus so much more, including a giant beach where cyclists can cool off in the summer.

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Little Miami Trail Xenia Crossing.JPG
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Little Miami Covered Bridge Over Bikeway 1.JPG
Simon Kenton Trail Pink Bike.JPG
Dayton Kettering Trail Tunnel.JPG

   The Ohio-to-Erie Trail is similar to the Simon-Kenton Trail and, while lacking a lot of extra things to see and do, offers a very flat, straight and enjoyable 29-mile-ride. Both trails are surrounded by beautiful farmland and pass through quaint small towns. The Ohio-to-Erie Trail can be combined with the Creekside Trail or the Xenia-Jamestown Connector for an even longer ride in the countryside. 

   Other trails are not so quiet and peaceful, but still add their own unique touches to the network. 

   The Stillwater River Trail, for example, passes directly through the path of the 2019 tornadoes in Dayton. Near Deweese Park, trees have been whipped-up and turned sideways, and several apartment buildings in the area look like they’ve been through a war. It’s not pretty, but it is something to see. Luckily, the trail, which is currently divided into two sections, also passes through Wegerzyn Gardens MetroPark and Englewood MetroPark—both of which are beautiful and interesting places to visit. 

   The Dayton-Kettering Connector Trail is interesting because it leads cyclists through Oakwood, the University of Dayton campus and the heart of downtown Dayton. The trail shares the road with regular traffic in the downtown area, which can make it hard to fully enjoy, but it’s an experience. The trail ends at RiverScape MetroPark where cyclists can relax and find other things to do, including frequent concerts and festivals.

   The Wright Brothers-Huffman Prairie Trail is unique because a section of it is located within Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. It is not uncommon to see huge cargo planes taking off and landing near the trail. It also leads to Huffman Prairie, where the Wright Brothers developed the first practical airplane and to Wright Memorial, where a monument and museum dedicated to the brothers awaits visitors, as does one of the best panoramic views of the Miami Valley. On the other end of the trail is downtown Fairborn, which is an enjoyable place to visit, especially if you love Halloween.

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Little Miami Trail Canoe Rental.JPG

   The Mad River Trail connects with the Wright Brothers-Huffman Prairie Trail and also passes along the border of the base and within a stone’s throw of the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, where cyclists are welcome. It also passes through two parks (Eastwood MetroPark and Huffman Metropark) and connects to the MoMBA Mountain Bike Trail at Huffman Dam. This is one of several mountain bike trails and/or bike parks connected to the network. 

   Closer to home, and back on the quieter side of things, is the Ohio to Indiana Trail. In the near future, it will connect Ohio with Indiana, via Piqua, Greenville and Urbana. A new section of this trail was recently opened near Fletcher in Miami County. It connects Poor Farmer’s Campground with Casstown-Sidney Road near Garbry Big Woods Reserve. When complete, a cyclist will be able to jump on a designated bike path in Piqua and travel east to Urbana or west to Indiana. One day, the trail will connect with other trail systems in the Midwest, creating a giant spider web of interconnected trails. Maybe even eventually, the entire country will be connected by recreational trails. 

   It will be fun to watch this all unfold and to see how bicycles are reintegrated back into American life and the tourism industry.  

   Until James and I set out to ride all of the Miami Valley Bikeways, I never realized how much fun bicycle travel can be. You don’t need much, just a change of clothes, a debit card and a water bottle. Food and shelter are never far away, nor is something interesting to see and do. Maybe best of all, you get to experience lots of fresh air, sunshine and exercise and, for me—a great adventure with my son that I know we’ll never forget.

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Rating the Trails

The list below is a review of the 15 trails in the Miami Valley Bikeways network, ranked from most to least interesting. Rankings are based on scenery, sightseeing opportunities, amenities and ease of use/trail conditions.

1. Little Miami Scenic Trail 
2. Great Miami Recreational Trail 
3. Simon Kenton Trail
4. Ohio-to-Indiana Trail
5. Ohio to Erie Trail 
6. Buck Creek Trail 
7. Xenia-Jamestown Connector 
8. Wolf Creek Trail
9. Stillwater River Trail
10. Wright Brothers-Huffman Prairie Trail
11. Great-Little Trail
12. Dayton-Kettering Connector 
13. Creekside Trail
14. Mad River Trail 
15. Iron Horse Trail

1. Little Miami Scenic Trail

78 Miles: from Springfield to near the Ohio River in Cincinnati

James and I rode the Little Miami Scenic Trail over two days and one night in the fall of 2021 and stopped for the evening at the Creekwood Motel in Waynesville, which caters to cyclists and is close to plenty of restaurants and shops. We chose Waynesville to stop because it is roughly the half-way point on the trail, and because of the close proximity of the hotel to the trail.

   In hindsight, we should have given ourselves several more days and nights for this trip. There’s just so much to see and do, and so many great places to stay the night, indoors and out. 

   Starting on the southern edge of Springfield, the trail begins as a long wooded corridor that leads straight to downtown Yellow Springs. Just north of town, a less than one-mile side path leads to Young’s Jersey Dairy Farm, where ice-cream, food and fun awaits. 

   In Yellow Springs, cyclists have access to John Bryan State Park (which contains its own set of mountain biking trails and a campground), Glen Helen Nature Preserve and much more. A longer ride east leads to Clifton Gorge State Nature Preserve. 

   Just south of Yellow Springs the trail joins the course of the Little Miami River before veering into downtown Xenia, where four trails in this network meet. After the small village of Spring Valley, the trail joins the river and doesn’t stop until Cincinnati. 

   In Waynesville, cyclists can explore the historic district—filled with antique and specialty shops and restaurants—and also take a side trip to Caesar Creek State Park and Gorge. 

   Although the 78 miles of trail remains relatively flat, the section between Corwin and Loveland passes through several deep river valleys. Look for amazing bridges, the Fort Ancient Native American mound site, the little town of Oregonia and campgrounds and canoe liveries located right next to the trail in Morrow. Just off of the trail at this location is Kings Island, Great Wolf Lodge and plenty of restaurants and hotels. 

   Loveland, like Yellow Springs and Waynesville, is very bicycle-friendly. The trail acts as a second main street in the town and is treated as such. Restaurants, cafes and shops back up to the trail, inviting cyclists to park, dine, shop and sightsee, including at many outdoor patios facing the trail. Several bed and breakfasts are located not far from the trail, as is camping. 

   While there is much to see and do from Loveland until the end of the trail, including several more trailside campgrounds, the last leg of the journey is not as good as the first. Noise from nearby highways starts to overtake the natural setting and it’s just not as scenic. It does have its highlights though, including ending at the Fifty West Brewing Company, which offers cold beer and famous cold root beer, plus food, making it a great place to finish up (and fill up) after a long ride. 

Little Miami Trail Caesares Creek.JPG
Little Miami Trail Yellow Springs Bike Building.JPG
Little Miami Trail State Park Sign.JPG
Little Miami Trail Tall Bridge.JPG
Little Miami Trail Covered Bridge Nearby.JPG
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Little Miami Trail Antioch Yellow Springs.JPG
Little Miami Trail Glen Helen Sign.JPG
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Little Miami Trail Fifty West Sign.JPG
Little Miami Trail Spring Valley Wildlife Area 2.JPG
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Little Miami Trail in Springfield Phatty Wagon.JPG
Little Miami Trail Loveland Mural.JPG
Waynesville Village Family Restaurant.JPG
Little Miami Trail Creekwood Motel in Waynesville.JPG
Little Miami Trail Beginning Woods.JPG

2. Great Miami Recreational Trail

77 Miles: from Piqua to Middletown + 16 miles that includes segments in Shelby County and Hamilton

   The diversity of the Great Miami Recreational Trail is what makes it so fun to ride from start to finish.

   Never far from the Great Miami River, the trail often follows the old Miami and Erie Canal towpath, and often through quiet, wooded areas. In Miami County, cyclists pass a number of historic locks and old canal towns that now thrive for different reasons, including Piqua, Troy and Tipp City. Each of these inviting towns is filled with shops, restaurants, historic sites and more. At Duke Park in Troy, the trail connects with the Troy Mountain Bike Area. In Piqua, it joins an additional 8 or 9 miles of the city’s trail system and is very close to the Johnston Farm & Indian Agency, where bicycles are welcome. Cyclists are also welcome at the WACO Air Museum, located right off of the trail in Troy.

  Between each town in Miami County, and after Tipp City, the trail follows the river through lush wooded areas. It then reaches Taylorsville Dam and Taylorsville MetroPark—home to some of the most rugged hiking trails in the Miami Valley. This section of the trail is especially beautiful in the summer and fall.

   Before reaching Dayton, cyclists can take a snack or entertainment break at the Rip Rap Roadhouse and the Shake Shack (located right next to the trail). This can be followed by a turn on the rope swing at the nearby Hope Bridge. 

  After the bridge, the trail enters an industrial area and then an urban setting that lasts all the way through Dayton. Along the way, cyclists can see one of the largest water fountains in the world at Deed’s Point, visit RiverScape MetroPark, Carillon Historical Park or SunWatch Indian Village, and enjoy many attractions and restaurants close to the trail in downtown Dayton. 

   After passing through another industrial area, and then West Carrollton, the trail once again returns to the riparian corridor of the river. Besides going through Miamisburg and Franklin, it remains like this until its current end in Trenton. 

   The isolated section of the trail located in Hamilton also passes through deep woods and urban landscapes, mostly in Hamilton and Fairfield. This section is also much hillier than the northern one. 

   A highlight of the trail is Miamisburg, which is one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in Ohio. Cyclists can park in the downtown to enjoy famous hamburgers, murals, shopping and history. Franklin, too, has a number of interesting and unique places to visit next to the trail. 

   While the Great Miami River Trail lacks some of the scenery found on the Little Miami Scenic Trail, it has many beautiful and interesting areas. As preservation continues along the riverfront, this should only increase. 

Great Miami Recreational Trail Between Troy and Tipp in the FallSMALL.jpg
Hope Bridge.jpg
Dayton Cityscape.jpg
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Carrillon Park.jpg
Dayton Scape of Water North Dayton.jpg
Dayton Scape with Pink Flowers.jpg
Sidney Canal Feeder Tunnel.JPG
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The Shake Shack.jpg
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The Wright Seaplane.jpg
McCook Field.jpg
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Treasure Island Reflection of Lighthouse from Great Miami Recreational Trail Bike Path Tro
Riverscape MetroPark Trail.jpg

3. Simon Kenton Trail

32 Miles: from Bellefontaine to Springfield

 If you’re looking for a relaxing, quiet and, yet, long bicycle ride through the flat countryside, the Simon Kenton Trail will be up your alley. In fact, it is such an easy going trail that I rode the entire 32 miles without any brakes! Mine broke a very short distance into the trip. Rather than turn around, I just learned to slow down using my feet, which was actually kind of fun. 

   As mentioned, from Bellefontaine to Urbana, this trail is made of crushed gravel and is more suitable for mountain bikes. The trail runs directly next to a railroad track. In fact, many of these “rail-trails” in the network are located on top of old railroad lines that were abandoned long ago.  

   Between Bellefontaine and Urbana, the path follows the flat valley of the Mad River but it’s surrounded by rolling till plains—some of which conceal nearby Ohio Caverns. 

   On the outskirts of Urbana, the gravel turns to pavement, and the rest of the ride is smooth, scenic and contains a number of natural areas to explore, including Owens Fen Nature Preserve and the Mad River Wilderness Area. The highlight, though, is Cedar Bog Nature Preserve, which is located right next to the trail. If time allows, pay the small fee and take an easy hike on the boardwalk trail to explore one of the most unique natural locations in Ohio.

   Another major highlight is the artwork that can be seen at various points along the trail, sometimes in very isolated places. This includes colorful bicycles that also act as mile-markers and other bicycle-themed art. The art theme continues into downtown Springfield—another bicycle-friendly and art-focused community.

   James and I rode this trail in the summer. It would probably be very pretty in the fall, or possibly early in the spring. Either way, it is a trail I am likely to ride again. 

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Simon Kenton Trail Trestle.JPG
Simon Kenton Trail Bridge Next to Railroad.JPG
Simon Kenton Trail Phone Pic James Next to Train.jpg
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Simon Kenton Trail Statue in Springfield.JPG
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Simon Kenton Trail Urbana The Depot.JPG
Simon Kenton Trail West Liberty Sign.JPG

4. Ohio-to-Indiana Trail

8 Miles: Troy-Sidney Road to Spiker Road in Piqua, plus the new section in Fletcher. Then a section in Gettysburg and three more segments in Greenville 

   This trail is ranked high on the list not for what it currently is, but for what it is fast-becoming, and will soon be.

   Right now, the Ohio-to-Indiana Trail is the least-developed trail in the network. It consists of seven segments, often separated by many miles. The longest intact portion is in Piqua, which is also the most impressive section. It starts in a long, wooded corridor (very pretty in the fall) east of town, then passes through the heart of the historic district before exiting town west into the rolling countryside. After a large gap, two small sections are paved in Gettysburg, including a section that crosses Greenville Creek on an old steel bridge. After another large gap, the paved trail picks up outside of Greenville. Then, two more segments in town lead to the Bish Discovery Center, Greenville City Park, the Maid-Rite Sandwich Shoppe and then ends at the Garst Museum. The historic downtown is very close by as well. In short, there is a lot to see and do!

   The newest section is located between Poor Farmer’s Campground in Fletcher and Casstown-Sidney Road near Garbry Big Woods Reserve in Piqua. A blue sign on the trail in Fletcher commemorates the trail and the day (April 29, 1865) that The Lincoln Funeral Train passed through the community on the rail line enroute to Springfield with the President’s body. The trail also connects the campground with two great Miami County parks—Garbry Big Woods Reserve and Garbry Big Woods Sanctuary.

   Currently, St. Paris is interested in developing its section of the trail, as is Urbana. Miami County continues its efforts as well. At some point in the near future, cyclists will be able to visit Greenville, Piqua, St. Paris and Urbana, all without leaving a paved path. Additionally, upon completion, it would connect Greenville to Dayton, Cincinnati and pretty much everywhere else in the Miami Valley via paved bike paths. 

   Until then, the seven segments are certainly worth the ride. A series of scenic country roads currently acts as the path between the seven segments, and leads to two more treasures—Kiser Lake State Park and Greenville Falls State Nature Preserve.  

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Greenville Tecumseh Point Trail.JPG
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Greenville City Park Fall 2.JPG

5. Ohio to Erie Trail

29 Miles: London to Xenia Station 

If you enjoy a straight, mostly flat, yet scenic ride through farmland and charming little towns, the Ohio to Erie Trail is for you. It is very similar to the Simon Kenton Trail in terms of scenery, but it is even flatter and much easier to ride. Usually, after a 30 or 40 mile bike ride, James and I are ready to be done for the day. We combined this trail with the Creekside Trail, completing about 50 miles for the day. As we approached the end of the trail near London, we both noticed that we still had energy. The ride had been so flat that it didn’t take as much effort to do.

   A great feature on this route is a trailside campground located in London. It is located right next to the downtown, so it’s not for nature-lovers. However, cyclists can pitch a tent for free, cook a meal on the grill and then be steps away from groceries, restaurants and other needs, plus safety.  

   In Cedarville, the Hearthstone Inn & Suites serves the local college and trail-users. It is literally right next to the trail. The charming downtown of Cedarville has several places to eat, including Beans-n-Cream and Lola’s Mexican. Points of interest near the trail include an Indian mound, a waterfall, and the Carnegie Center for the Visual Arts, among other small town attractions. 

   A gap in the trail in downtown London marks the end of the Ohio to Erie Trail within the Miami Valley Bikeways network. However, the trail continues on the east side of London, eventually reaching the outskirts of Columbus. Work continues on this trail with the mission of connecting Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati with a paved bike trail network.
(Note: In all fairness, this was the only trail-rating that James and I disagreed on. He believes the Ohio to Erie Trail should be fourth and the Ohio-to-Indian fifth. Maybe they are tied.) 


6. Buck Creek Trail

6 Miles: Springfield to Buck Creek State Park 

There were many trails on this list that James and I had to ride twice, especially the shorter ones. Either it didn’t make sense to get dropped off to ride them one-way, or no one was available to help. There were several trails where we had to double-back and really didn’t look forward to it. The Buck Creek Trail, at six miles, wasn’t one of them. It was enjoyable and scenic in both directions, and, best of all, it goes to Buck Creek State Park, a fun place. 

   The trail starts at Veterans Park in downtown Springfield, where unusually large outcrops of limestone remind visitors that an ancient river helped carve out the modern landscape. It then passes an outdoor amphitheater and the Springfield Museum of Art before following Buck Creek to Old Reid Park (a fishing area) and then into the state park boundaries.

   At Buck Creek State Park, several more miles of trails lead to swimming, camping, fishing, hiking, boating and much more. 

  If camping isn’t your thing, try the nearby Simon Kenton Inn or The Colonial Manor Bed and Breakfast. A sign for the inn can be seen on the Simon Kenton Trail.

Tecumseh at Springfield Art Museum Buck Creek Trail.jpg

7. Xenia-Jamestown Connector

17 Miles: Xenia to the Fayette County line

 If we had planned better, and even if the wind was blowing against us, James and I should have started this trail at its eastern terminus in Rosemoor. This is because, as we learned after starting at the western terminus in Xenia, the trail slants upward from west to east. It is nothing visually noticeable, but it’s nearly continuous. On other trails, the elevation often moves up and down and you experience breaks from pedaling. On the Xenia-Jamestown Connector it felt as if we never stopped pedaling. This potentially took away from the beauty that this rural trail has to offer. 

   While it transverses mostly farmland, a majority of the trail is surprisingly surrounded by trees and woods. This creates a canopy that blocks most of the wind and provides a peaceful backdrop to the roughly two hour ride. It’s also home to dozens of bird species and other wildlife, especially blue jays.   

   Compared to similar trails, such as the Ohio-to-Indiana and Simon Kenton, this rural trail has few options for food, lodging or supplies. The exception is in Jamestown. Other than this, you’re on your own. 

   All this aside, I would ride this trail again, probably in the fall when the canopy begins to change colors. 


8. Wolf Creek Trail

18.5 Miles: Verona to Great Miami Recreational Trail in west Dayton 

The scenery along Wolf Creek Trail changes often, especially the different wildflowers that grow along the sides. 

   Mostly, the trail passes through a combination of farmland and small towns, but it also visits Sycamore State Park (where camping is available), a bike park in Brookville and it ends at the Great Miami River near the Dayton Art Institute. 

   Several miles of Wolf Creek follow the northern border of Sycamore State Park. A few hiking trailheads are located directly on the bike path. This is probably the best, most scenic part of the trail.  

   As with many other trails in this network, cyclists will see a number of old train relics next to the path. This includes train cars, cabooses and old train stations, most of which have been painted in bright colors. Brookville and Trotwood are good examples of this.

   The Wolf Creek Trail would rank higher on this list if it wasn’t for a large missing section in Dayton. After Trotwood, in order to reach a second paved segment in Little Richmond, cyclists have to follow a sidewalk through west Dayton. Unfortunately, many of these sidewalks are covered in broken glass and other debris, making it dangerous and difficult to maneuver. If it can be avoided, it probably should be.

   When the pavement picks back up, the trail then follows Wolf Creek to its confluence with the Great Miami River and in to downtown Dayton. 

   A longer trip can be had at the end of the trail by hopping on the Great Miami Recreational Trail and taking it back home to the north. 

   Until the missing section is paved in Dayton, it is probably best to enjoy this trail from Verona to Trotwood, which still covers about 12+ miles on the trail and roughly 24 miles there and back. 

Wolf Creek Trail Brookville Train 1.JPG
Wolf Creek Trail Mural Trotwood.JPG
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Wolf Creek Trail End in Dayton.JPG
Wolf Creek Trail at Dayton Bridge.JPG

9. Stillwater River Trail

5 Miles: The south segment is from Island MetroPark in Dayton to Sinclair Park in Dayton. The north segment is from Grosnickle Park to Englewood MetroPark, both in Englewood

  It’s been over three years now, but portions of the southern segment of the Stillwater River Trail still look like a tornado went through yesterday. 

   Starting at Island MetroPark, and the confluence of the Great Miami and Stillwater rivers in Dayton, the southern segment of the trail passes Wegerzyn Gardens MetroPark and DeWeese Park before ending at Sinclair Park near Shoup Mill. Shoup Mill is where the most tornado damage can be seen, including several abandoned apartment complexes (one barely hanging on to a cliff above the Stillwater River) that the trail passes directly next to. While this isn’t very pretty, the gardens are exceptionally beautiful and worthy of a long stop.

(NOTE: Since this article was first published, the Shoup Mill area has been cleared of abandoned building)

   In terms of altitude, the northern segment of this trail is the second steepest. It starts at Grosnickle Park and goes through a wetland before climbing up to Englewood Dam and Englewood MetroPark. It then heads down the other side of the dam into a thick of woods at the park. Sharing the road with cars, cyclists can then circle around the giant park, adding several more miles to the journey.

   There are many other trails in the network that are more scenic than the Stillwater River Trail. But because it passes so many interesting places, including the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery and Aullwood Garden MetroPark and its now famous trolls, it makes for a very unique ride that will leave a lasting impression on you. 

Wegerzyn Gardens Dayton.JPG

10. Wright Brothers
-Huffman Prairie Trail

15 Miles: Huffman MetroPark to downtown Fairborn

This trail is highly unique because it hugs the boundary of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and, in one section, actually goes on to the base. In fact, cyclists will be near the end of a long runway where massive cargo planes regularly take off. From the trail, the planes are so close that it feels like an earthquake is happening.

   What the trail lacks in beauty and tranquility, it makes up for with the attractions it provides access to. This includes the Wright Brothers Memorial (which contains a National Park Service interpretive center, Indian mounds and some of the best views in the Miami Valley), Huffman Prairie Flying Field (where the Wright Brothers perfected their early aircraft), Huffman MetroPark and dam, and downtown Fairborn, which is filled with interesting shops, including Halloween costume stores and toy and book shops. Plus, there’s the added bonus of a separate mountain biking trail at Huffman Dam, as well as hiking trails. The section between Fairborn and the dam is fairly dull, passing the outskirts of Wright State and mostly paralleling busy roads, but it’s still a very noteworthy ride.


11. Great Little Trail

7 Miles: Waterbury Ridge Lane in Centerville to Crains Run Park in Miamisburg

 The plan for this trail is to one day use it to connect the Great Miami Recreational Trail with the Little Miami Scenic Trail—hence its name. Out of all 15 trails, this could be considered the most dangerous. Otherwise, it’s a pretty fun, yet short cycling experience. 

   Traveling from east to west, the trail starts with little fanfare near Yankee Trace Golf Course. It then follows Austin Blvd., crosses a major and relentless intersection at Ohio Route 741, goes up and over Interstate 75 (again through heavy traffic) and then climbs a hill to a series of housing developments. This section of the trail is very forgettable and dangerous. 

   The last, shortest part, however, is awesome, especially if you’re traveling east to west and have good brakes on your bike. This is because the western portion of the trail is the steepest in the network. It winds down the eastern slope of the Great Miami River valley, eventually reaching the river far below just north of Crains Run Park. If no one else is on the trail, riders can get moving very fast. On the other hand, riding the trail from west to east means you’d have to climb this exciting section.


12. Dayton-Kettering Connector

7.1 Miles: Iron Horse Trail on Wilmington Pike to RiverScape MetroPark 

At this time, 1.9 miles of this trail is paved multi-use and 5.2 miles is shared roadway and bike lanes, including as it passes through the heart of downtown Dayton. James and I did both trails.

   While we found it interesting to bicycle among the skyscrapers, murals and colorful buildings in downtown Dayton, the heavy traffic on the shared roadways made it hard to fully enjoy. Likewise, the southern portion of this trail passes through a large residential area that contains numerous traffic issues and not a lot of interesting scenery. 

   It’s not all bad though and the trail places a little higher than others on the list because of its unique urban landscape. Some notable highlights, besides downtown Dayton, include Lincoln Park in Kettering, the University of Dayton campus, and then ending at RiverScape MetroPark on the Great Miami River, where there’s always something going on. There’s also many great places to eat next to the trail and access to everything Dayton has to offer. 

   If you want to try urban cycling, this trail is your chance.

Dayton Kettering Downtown Skyscraper.JPG
Dayton Kettering Colorful Buildings.JPG
Dayton Kettering Trail Sign with James.JPG
Dayton Kettering Trail Tunnel.JPG
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Dayton Kettering Splash Pad at RiverScape.JPG
Dayton Kettering Mural Wall.JPG
Dayton Kettering Cassanos Historical Marker.JPG
Dayton Kettering Trail Pond at Park.JPG
Dayton Kettering Statue.JPG

13. Creekside Trail

15 Miles: Eastwood MetroPark to Xenia

 Creekside Trail connects Dayton with Xenia (and also the two largest trail systems in the network) and starts at Eastwood MetroPark. The first leg of the trip is very urban and passes a legal graffiti wall where artists have painted—and continue to paint—interesting scenes and images. The bike path follows the length of the wall before again returning to the countryside. It then passes a 9/11 memorial in Beavercreek.

  Creekside Trail is most pleasant between Fairfield and Xenia (especially when passing along Creekside Reserve), but, overall, it’s more forgettable than some of the other trails on this list. However, until the Great Little Trail or the Ohio to Indiana Trail are completed, Creekside Trail acts as the only link between the longest trails in the network.  


14. Mad River Trail

6.6 Miles: Deeds Point in Dayton to Huffman MetroPark  in Fairborn 

Starting at Deeds Point at the confluence of the Great Miami and Mad rivers and the nearby Stillwater River in downtown Dayton, the Mad River Trail follows the Mad River east to Huffman MetroPark. Here, it joins the Wright Brothers-Huffman Prairie Trail en route to Fairborn. 

   The trail is most notable because it follows a series of manmade lakes in Eastwood Park and then passes the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. It also follows a section of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, so expect to see a lot of barbed wire fences. 

   Just like Creekside Trail, the Mad River Trail isn’t something you go out of your way to cycle, but it does make a nice segment between longer, more interesting journeys. 

Bike Path Signs at Deeds Point in Dayton.JPG
Statues of the Wright Brothers at Deeds Point in Dayton.JPG
Museum of the United States Air Force Best Shot.jpg
Mad River Air Force Museum.JPG
Mad River Trail Next to River.JPG
Mad River Trail Brick Walls.JPG
Mad River Trail Bridge.JPG
Mad River Trail Eastwood Park Bridge 2.JPG
Mad River Trail Fence Tunnel.JPG

15. Iron Horse Trail

7 Miles: Linden Avenue (Creekside Trail to Iron Horse Park in Centerville)  

   The day that James and I encountered this trail was an accident. We had planned (and even started) to ride the Creekside Trail, but got turned around somewhere in Riverside and ended up deep into the Iron Horse Trail instead. Having come so far, we decided to finish the Iron Horse and then head back to Dayton (and our car) using the Dayton-Kettering Connector. This would finish two trails in the network and fill the day. 

   There’s not a whole lot to say about this trail, except that it does have a couple of secluded sections that really are peaceful and it passes a few good parks. But it’s nothing to really go out of your way to do, unless you’re on a mission to ride all 15 trails, which is a worthwhile thing to do!

Iron Horse Trail Kettering.JPG
Iron Horse Trail with Flags.JPG
Iron Horse Signage.JPG
Iron Horse Historical Sign.JPG
Iron Horse Trail Bike Sign for Kettering.JPG
Iron Horse End-ish.JPG

Click HERE for a full map of the Miami Valley Bikeways trail system.

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