(Half of) Olentangy RiverTrail Review

Last Sunday, I took my two-year old son on a bike ride on the Olentangy River Trail. He was in his trailer and was loving it, though he did fall asleep part-way through. It was a warm day but he had a drink and was loving going fast (as fast as I could get him to go with my heavy bike and heavy son!).

We started at the Clinton-Como Park entrance and went south. I was pleased that I was able to keep up a pretty good pace the whole way, though having the wind against me on the return trip back north was a little bit daunting. I don't have a bike computer or anything like that, but I estimate that we went about 12 miles in total just based on which mile-markers we passed.

The trail was in pretty good shape the entire length, with the heavy exception of the area around Ohio State University. I've said before that OSU does a good job of putting to rest the notion of liberal public universities. They really don't take care of the trail at all on their portion of it. The asphalt was torn up and bumpy the entire way and in many spots there was no yellow dividing line and it was down to only about 3/4 of one lane's width wide. Not very safe.

I'd like to see a couple of things along the trail that would make it easier for use by commuters, and aside from the improvements to the trail itself as noted above:
  1. Better signs along the way. There were lots of access points to the trail from the various neighborhoods that you saw, but many times you had no idea where you might be getting off the trail! If they put up some signs that said where you were (example: nearest cross street to a trail entrance) that would help immensely.

    Also, a sign that said where the Olentangy Trail ends and the other trails begin would be good. I wasn't quite sure where it ended and rode for a while on another trail.

  2. According to the guidelines I've read in a few places, the trails should be 12 feet wide, 6 feet in each lane. Well, I'm 6' tall, and I know that if I laid across a lane for most of the length of the trail, I'd be hanging off on either side. Down near the King Avenue area (I think - see #1) it was quite wide - possibly OVER the 12' guideline, but for most of its length I'd estimate it was 10' wide. Not a huge issue, but something I noticed.
Hopefully I'll get to go north within the next couple weeks. I'm anxious to see the work they've done up by Antrim Park.


  1. I've been mulling over this issue of late, due to all the chatter about it, and I can't say I'm all that sure of how to proceed. I know that there is a bikeways plan at OSU and that Steve Volkmann, University Landscape Architect, is in some way responsible for it (but not ultimately responsible, since he doesn't have the cash in hand). The site http://fod.osu.edu/pare/mp/bikeways.htm suggests they are awaiting funding for trail enhancements. I think it's just not a priority at all. So do we stage a protest? Demand a meeting with Steve? Tip off The Other Paper that this is a big deal (actually, I kinda like that idea...) This is a huge issue with tons of interested stakeholders; there is no reason for it not to get appropriate attention!

  2. This might be a topic to bring up when the proposed OSU commuter biking club rally is held.

    I'm with you on the Other Paper, too... they love picking up on a juicy story and running with it. I'm not sure how juicy this is to anyone who's NOT a cyclist, but it seems like the type of thing they'd run.

  3. I'd actually really like to see some water fountains along the trail. It amazes me that with all the parks and such, there is not a single water fountain in view of the trail. I get thirsty and finish my own water bottle and there is no where to fill it up!

  4. Yeah, the trail needs a lot of work around OSU and they are taking their time with it. Its a problem campus-wide, not limited to the bike path, i actually had to start a student group (Art School Students Union) to put pressure on the Art Department to get some leaks fixed on the 4th floor of the building my studio is in. OSU is not interested in spending money on issues and things it deems unimportant, and clearly cycling and the arts are very low on their list. As far as the trail going north is concerned, its in good shape and there are a few places the city has completely redone, but the area around Antrim is going nowhere quickly. They have had a gravel covered detour around the area in which they are building a bridge across the river, and recently they removed all the large gravel that was there and replaced it with what appears to be crushed limestone. Its better and from what i hear less people are getting in accidents in that spot. In addition at 161 you can continue on the trail and follow it up the east side of the river OR if you head west on 161 and turn north on Olentangy, the path carries on to around Snouffer road. But it abruptly ends for some reason im not quite shure of, hopefully they have a go and carry it on to wilson bridge...that would be really nice for me. Im rambling.

    Militant Cyclist

  5. Ramble away, oh Militant one. It certainly does seem that OSU has its priorities and maintenance of existing infrastructure doesn't seem to be on that list. They'd much rather build new stuff than fix the old. Hmmm... can a city-based university with little place to really expand be accused of sprawl?

  6. I take the trail regularly from Clintonville to events at OSU...the construction is a pain, but the last few months I've noticed there are actual workers on site making progress whenever I ride by during work hours. It's only about a half mile through campus where I've needed to take detours, then its pretty clean travel right to downtown.

    Great article!

  7. Oh, meant to add, I wrote up an article about my favorite spots on the trail--I found your post while I was doing research.

    How to explore Ohio's Olentangy River Trail


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