On Wednesday, I went for a bike ride on the Adena Hockhocking bike trail. It was about 24 miles roundtrip, but I managed to keep an average speed of 15 mph, my fastest yet. Since I started trying to get back in shape, I’ve lost four pounds and my daily step counts are averaging about 15,000. That’s a big improvement over last winter, when I often struggled to get to 10k. I’ve even clocked a 30,000 step day. Best of all, I’ve discovered several great trails and I’m exploring Ohio. Now if I can just keep it up throughout the summer …by
I biked out to the dam at Dow Lake intending to take a quick hike on Hickory Trail. But it was a beautiful day and I felt great walking Hickory, so I decided to walk all the way around the lake, connecting up with Lakeview Trail to complete the loop. All in, I walked almost 8 miles with great lake views most of the way. That and the bike ride gave me my highest step count ever: 30,000 steps.
Next I want to do the same at Burr Oak, but I suspect that will be a larger project. It’s a much bigger lake, which might be an excuse for my first backpacking trip …by
I hadn’t walked the railroad tracks since I was a punk teenager who used them as a place to party, stash beer and visit friends from Wilkinsburg to Swissvale to Braddock in ’70s suburban Pittsburgh. This time was different. I was trying to get back on track, so to speak, after drifting off course while walking a stretch of the Buckeye Trail in Wayne National Forest in Ohio.
I’d set off, as I often do, based on guidance from AthensTrails.org, a great guide to local hiking spots. I wanted a day hike. Something not at Stroud’s Run. Something up near Burr Oak State Park, which I’ve been wanting to explore.
The Long Run segment of the New Straitsville section of the Buckeye Trail and North Country Trail sounded like the perfect choice. It was about 6.5 miles roundtrip and would let me get acquainted with Wayne National Forest. Athens Trails provides great, detailed guidance on the hike. I printed it out, grabbed my day pack and drove about a half-hour from Athens to the trailhead in Glouster. So far, so good.
The first stretch of the trail was a slog, as AthensTrails warned it would be. Muddy. Rutted. Making me wonder if I’d screwed up with this choice. But as promised, it soon improved, turning into a remote, beautiful path through the forest.
The Buckeye Trail is well marked with blue blazes. And that’s where I made my mistake. At one point, I misread the instructions I’d printed out from AthensTrails, and instead of following the blazes (as I should have) I trudged up a steep utility access cut that was heavily overgrown with weeds. I bushwhacked my way through a mile or so of this before coming to County Road 21 and realizing I was off course. Checking my maps, I found I could take 21 down to State Road 13 and walk south to pick up the Buckeye Trail where it crosses the highway and heads over to Burr Oak State Park. The railroad tracks run parallel to 13 at that point, so I just followed them until I found where they intersected the trail and walked it back to the trailhead.
In the end, I walked about 8.3 miles instead of the 6.4 I would have walked if I’d followed the directions correctly. But the hike was worth it. It was a great way to get acquainted with Wayne National Forest and although I didn’t actually get over to Burr Oak, it prompted me to return the following weekend to explore the area with Lara. It’s a beautiful lake. Best one I’ve encountered thus far in Ohio, and there are trails throughout the park — it’s even possible to circumambulate the lake. I intend to return to give that a shot later this summer …by
Lara and I tried to keep up with Noah Trembly this week on the Adena Hockhocking bike trail. We rolled from West State Street Park to a few miles north of The Plains. Weather was perfect (clouds kept things cool but didn’t rain on us), though the mosquitos were out in force. We even saw a pair of deer when we wheeled back into the park.
By the way, if you’re looking for a great cause to donate to, we’re trying to help Noah get a new van so he can keep rolling. There’s a Go Fund Me page set up where you can contribute. Please do if you’re so inclined.by
The day was crap. Overcast. Cool. More March than June. Perfect day for a hike.
I drove up to Stroud’s Run, where I pulled into the trailhead at White Pine Trail, which is a spur trail connecting to Vista Point Trail. As is the case with most of the trails at Stroud’s, it’s in rough shape … but still quite serviceable. Where White Pine intersects Vista, I tool a left and headed north onto Vista Point Trail, hopping over to the Thunderbunny bike trail at one point and then back to Vista Point, which runs along a ridgeline before dropping down the opposite side into the campground. A quick walk through the campground allowed me to pick up Vista again near the amphitheater, where the Vista trailhead is.
After climbing back up to the ridge on Vista, I came across Vista Point and a great view of Dow Lake down below. Not much wildlife was out during my late-afternoon hike, but I did encounter a few mountain bikers on Thunderbunny and a woman hiking with her lab. Finding Vista Point and checking out the campground make the hike well worth it.by
I had to run up to Columbus to retrieve a large piece of butcher block we’re using in the kitchen of the house we just purchased in Athens, and while I was there I took advantage of an opportunity to check out North Market. Well worth it. I went straight to Hubert’s Polish Kitchen, where I loaded up with pierogies, a stuffed cabbage and cucumber fennel salad.
It was awesome. And filling. Doesn’t happen often, but I couldn’t finish it. I’ve also been thrilled to see the Not Guilty Food Cart here in Athens now features pirogies, too. And they’re pretty good. Maybe the days are over when I had to run to Pierogies Plus in Pittsburgh for a fix …by
I’ve been using the Cyclemeter app to track my rides, but a recent Wall Street Journal story listed several other activity apps that are worth a look, including Trails. I like Cyclemeter, but it’s just for cycling; Trails tracks a range of activities, including hiking.
So I downloaded Trails (it costs about $5/year) and set off on my bike to check it out. Overall, I was happy with it. It gives me pretty much what I was getting with Cyclemeter and allows me to use it for hiking and kayaking, too. For the ride, I headed out toward the Eclipse Company Town at The Plains. It was a great afternoon for a ride, though some ominous clouds were circling. No rain on this parade, though.
Highlight of the ride was north of Eclipse when a yearling doe jumped onto the bike path about 100 yards ahead of me and turned north when she saw me. I followed her for about a minute or two. I kept pace with her but didn’t want to gain on her for fear of scaring her into doing something that would result in an injury. After running along for a bit, she veered off the trail and into the woods. On the way back, I came up on a four-foot blacksnake crossing the path. He was completely unfazed as I steered into the grass to avoid running him over …
The bike ride was about 16 miles roundtrip and left me pretty happy with Trails so I decided to try it out for paddling.
I got to Stroud’s Run at about 11 a.m. just as the kayak rental place was opening. For $10/hour I got the largest non-tandem kayak I could find (an Old Town Heron XT that looked to be about 12 feet and definitely had seen better days). I put the boat in near the beach, started the Trails app and started paddling around Dow Lake, essentially circumnavigating it during the next couple of hours.
After three or four strokes I was reminded how much I miss paddling. Saw a couple of herons while I was out and a river otter, which is always a treat. The otter went under as soon as he saw me but then surfaced and hung around near the riverbank for a while as I watched from 10 or so feet away.
For the most part, I had the lake to myself. A couple was out in a paddleboat and an angler was working the area near the dam, but I didn’t see anyone else on the water till I paddled back to the boat rental area, where a small navy of kayaks and canoes was heading out for an after lunch paddle. All in, I paddled 5 miles, which wasn’t bad for the first time I’ve been out in about a year.
After these two tryouts I decided to switch to Trails. While it sacrifices some of the granularity that Cyclemeter has, I really like being able to use it for multiple activities. And I’m not so hardcore that I need to go big data here. I’m mostly looking for info on distance traveled, average speed and area covered, all of which Trails provides.by
What a contrast.
While Hickory Trail was in great shape, Lakeview was pretty much of a mess. Several stretches of it were more creek than trail and parts are already getting overgrown with weeds. But I still loved it.
I biked to the dam and set off on Lakeview from there. I must have missed the formal trailhead because the path I took in was closer to bushwhacking than hiking. After a bit of a slog, I found the trail’s thread but things grew only nominally better. The trail is in rough shape all the way to Whitesel Junction, where Groundpine Run feeds into Pine Cove. I set off at about noon, so the woods were quite. Everyone was hunkered down for siesta. Even the omnipresent chipmunks were unusually quiet. I did startle a black vulture along the shoreline, the whoosh of his wings echoing through the piney cove as his ominous shadow lumbered across the water.
At Whitesel Junction, the trail grew noticeably better but it still tended to meander around a bit. I walked all the way to the parking lot at the swimming area, stopped to eat a few apples, drink water and marvel at the day. During the return trip, I diverted to Amoretto Trail, a horse trail that cuts up the hill to a ridgeline trail called Lake Hill Trail. From there I picked up Indian Mound Trail, taking me back down to the dam. (Not sure if I spotted an actual Indian mound along the trail, though there was one hill that I suspected could be it.)
A few tidbits I picked up along the way:
- Watching Roscoe the dog splash around in Dow Lake, oblivious to his owner’s shouts to return to shore.
- Listening to a couple shout and giggle as the paddle-splashed each other in a canoe out on the lake.
- Taking a call to discuss details of the closing for the house we’re selling while I was standing out in the woods, listening to birds sing.
- Two women riding horses down Hank Trail. They were talking so loudly it was if they were riding Harleys instead of horses.
Distance: About 8 miles RT hiking Lakeview Trail out and diverting to the Amoretto Trail and Indian Mound Trail to loop back to the dam during my return; 8.9 miles RT biking to the trail head and back.
Bike route: Route details from Cyclometer.
Highlight: The wind picked up as I returned to the dam, creating crazy-beautiful patterns in the tall grasses that carpet the dam.
Link: Athens Trails
Critters: A mountain biker, a few squirrels and chipmunks, a black vulture, two swimming dogs, assorted songbirds, a pair of horses ridden by very loud women.
Song: I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke, a nasty earworm that infected me the previous night while watching the Mad Men finale on DVR.
One of my goals this summer was to ride the entire Hockhocking Adena Bike Path from Athens to Nelsonville. I figured it would take several weeks before I attempted it, but during my ride yesterday I felt great when I hit The Plains and I just kept going. Before I knew it, I was cruising through the campus of Hocking College and on to Nelsonville, where I did a victory lap around the Square (depressing to see the destruction the fire caused there) and then back to Athens.
It was 37 miles round trip and took me about 3 hours, including a half-hour of time when I stopped to eat an apple, drink water and rest. Now I can start working on trying to do the ride in 2 hours round trip …
One thing is for certain: The bikeway is amazing. I had to cross roads only a few times during the ride, and pedaling beside the Hocking River is wonderful. There are several stretches where the path goes through beautiful, shaded woods, and there are several Porta Potties along the way for bathroom breaks. I did have to divert around the section from Stimson Avenue to Richland because they’re redoing that stretch of bike path, which was much needed.
And here’s a photo I shot of the mural at the Rocky Boots store in Nelsonville. Just to prove I made it …