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(Finally) Through Ohio on the Buckeye Trail

Dave

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
First: Camino Francés 2002; most recent: Norte/Primitivo 2019
19 months ago, I started walking the American Discovery Trail in Cincinnati, Ohio, heading westward. A lot has happened since then! I was supposed to arrive back in Cincinnati roughly a year ago, having started that leg of the trip at the Atlantic Ocean, but I shut things down in West Virginia as the pandemic escalated. Last May, I decided to try a re-start, when the situation with COVID seemed to be trending in the right direction. I quickly realized that was a poor choice and gave up any hope of returning to the walk any time soon.

Well, I'm vaccinated now, thanks to my state prioritizing teachers in the queue, and I realized there was just enough time to close the loop and make it across Ohio. It took a lot of shortcuts, diverting from the ADT, but I only had the week and this allows me to now say that I've walked from the Atlantic to the Rockies, which is rather satisfying.

The biggest thing to know about the American Discovery Trail as it passes through Ohio is that it follows the Buckeye Trail for most of its length, and also overlaps with the North Country Scenic Trail for a bit. The Buckeye Trail is a loop route that covers a significant chunk of Ohio, meandering for 1400+ miles through a ton of state parks and wildlife areas, along with a mix of towns. The NCST is even more ambitious, spanning 4600 miles across eight states. There is way more geographic and scenic diversity in Ohio than you might expect! Hocking Hills, in particular, has some of the prettiest scenery to hike through that you'll find.

Here are my posts from each day of walking in this state:
I'm behind on uploading all of the pics to the trip Facebook page, but there's a smattering on the Instagram. I also produced an episode on Ohio for the Sea to Shining Sea podcast, which I need to get back to at some point...

Anyway, if you're in the US and looking for some domestic hiking options, you could do a lot worse than Ohio!
 
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TMcA

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Pamplona to Santiago (2013)
Le Puy to Pamplona in segments (2013 - 2016)
Pamplona to León
In general and specifically for Ohio, how much road walking and how much walking on trails?
 

Dave

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
First: Camino Francés 2002; most recent: Norte/Primitivo 2019
The Buckeye Trail prioritizes scenery and good walking, so the majority of it is off-road. However, there's certainly a fair amount of variation. For example, the walk through the Hocking Hills is overwhelmingly on footpaths, while the nearly the entire final stage is on pavement (though a handful of miles are on a rails-to-trails bike track). There are also places where you have options, in case you want to divert for food or accommodation, or just to save distance. Those shortcuts inevitably shift you from winding trails to more direct roads.

The ADT is even more varied in terms of surface. Nearly all of Delaware is paved. The overwhelming majority of Missouri is unpaved, thanks to the Katy Trail. The ADT is like the Camino in at least one way--unlike a wilderness trail, it actively seeks out towns and other notable places. As a consequence, that necessitates more road walking at times.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Spring 2016: Camino Frances, Finisterre and Muxia
April 2019: Frances, Salvador, Primitivo
Thanks for this. I was following you as you walked in early 2020 until you stopped in WV. I look forward to catching up. I live in NW PA, so I'm interested in the Ohio trails.
 
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trecile

Camino Addict
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
Is it possible to walk shorter stages and find accommodation? Or would you have to use a taxi to shuttle back to the hotel?
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
The overwhelming majority of Missouri is unpaved, thanks to the Katy Trail.
The Katy Trail is well known for biking and there are quite a few youtube videos on it. I have biked the section from St. Charles, Missouri to Hermann over a few days just over 60 miles. It is considered one of the prettiest sections with limestone cliffs, vineyards and a few quaint towns. I have considered walking that section with family this spring sometime, but have made no real attempts at researching...I seem to lack the enthusiasm I have always had for the Caminos.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
I have considered walking that section with family this spring sometime, but have made no real attempts at researching...I seem to lack the enthusiasm I have always had for the Caminos.
Maybe because it seems to require more planning than the Caminos in Spain where you can usually just show up and start walking?
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
Maybe because it seems to require more planning than the Caminos in Spain where you can usually just show up and start walking?
No, not really. I don't mind planning and have always done lots of research even on my first Caminos where I was mostly winging it. My final two were fully planned out every day with distance and lodging...it has to do with being less interested "here", cuz I'd rather be "there".🙄
 

Dave

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
First: Camino Francés 2002; most recent: Norte/Primitivo 2019
Is it possible to walk shorter stages and find accommodation? Or would you have to use a taxi to shuttle back to the hotel?

I'm sure it's possible in places. Like, before Logan, OH there's the Burr Oak Lodge and some towns where you might be able to find an Airbnb. In the Hocking Hills area, there are a ton of cabins for rent. But there are some potentially long gaps in that, and there's also a price issue. Where there is accommodation, it can be quite pricy.

Chrissy's point about the Katy Trail is well-taken. If I were suggesting a one-off, based on the parts of the ADT I've walked so far, I'd pick the C&O in Maryland over the Katy. The Katy can feel like an endless green tunnel at times and some of the more interesting places are significant detours for walkers. (I think it's probably a lot more enjoyable as a bike ride and it definitely has a nice B&B culture that has developed with that demographic in mind.) The C&O was more enjoyable, to me, and it still has a lot of towns along the way. You'd probably need to mix in taxis in a couple of places, but other parts are easier to pull off, and some of the accommodations along the way are accustomed to picking people up.

I get Chrissy's other point, too. I've come to appreciate walking in the US, and there's a lot to be gained from walking in one's own country, but there's something invigorating about being away--and probably all the more so after these past months!
 
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Year of past OR future Camino
2017
I've looked at the Buckeye trail, the Katy and the C&O plus the GAP trail since my camino got canceled in 2020. I even joined some groups for the C&O and the GAP, but they are all dominated by bikers, and I heard over and over that accommodations would be harder to arrange with walking distances than for bikers. On all of these but especially the Buckeye Trail, I am concerned locals would be rather suspicious of people walking with a backpack? I train for my caminos on sections of the Ohio rails to trails, and I know I get looked at oddly with my pack and poles. lol In the end I just did some backpacking trips in the state parks because I was worried that it would be too hard to try to get accommodations or camp sites without having to rely on an uber or whatever. Were you able to walk straight to accomodations? Were you seen as suspicious to business owners coming in with a pack?
 

Dave

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
First: Camino Francés 2002; most recent: Norte/Primitivo 2019
Were you able to walk straight to accomodations? Were you seen as suspicious to business owners coming in with a pack?
The latter is easier to field: I've spent more than three months walking in the US now and have felt welcomed or tolerated nearly all of the time. Sure, there are a few exceptions that stick out in my memory, but given how badly trust has been eroded in recent decades, the rarity of those moments serves to highlight just how positively disposed many people are to travelers passing through. I've had many more people stop to offer me food or rides than I have had people direct animosity my way.

The former is a lot more complicated. For example, on this most recent trip, time was tight and I had a target that I really wanted to hit, so my entire strategy was to go fast and light, staying in accommodations every night and not carrying all of the extra gear for sleeping outside. That required some compromises, diverting from the Buckeye Trail in places and following minor roads instead, and it also demanded long days--27, 34, 16, 29, 24, 19, and 32 miles. A couple of those could have been broken up, but the two longest were non-negotiable without calling in a taxi, and even those can be hard to come by!

With the C&O, leaving DC/Georgetown, I'm pretty sure you could pull it off with mileage distances in the ballpark of 13 (Great Falls), 21 (White's Ferry), 13 (Point of Rocks), 12.5 (Harpers Ferry), 12.5 (Sharpsburg - detour to the Antietam battleground), 13.5 (Williamsburg). Some of those might not have great accommodation options on-site, but, as one example, hotels in Leesburg, VA offer a shuttle to/from the White's Ferry dock.

Anyway, that's my best suggestion! It gets you some great historical spots, some nice natural features, and a lot of turtles sunning themselves on logs.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
2017
Thanks so much! Saving this info and going to check out your blog too. I'm hoping to get to Spain by Spring of next year, as nothing is quite like the camino, but one of the many things this pandemic has shown me is that I need to be more aware of options close to home.
 

Ptermini

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
(10/2018)
19 months ago, I started walking the American Discovery Trail in Cincinnati, Ohio, heading westward. A lot has happened since then! I was supposed to arrive back in Cincinnati roughly a year ago, having started that leg of the trip at the Atlantic Ocean, but I shut things down in West Virginia as the pandemic escalated. Last May, I decided to try a re-start, when the situation with COVID seemed to be trending in the right direction. I quickly realized that was a poor choice and gave up any hope of returning to the walk any time soon.

Well, I'm vaccinated now, thanks to my state prioritizing teachers in the queue, and I realized there was just enough time to close the loop and make it across Ohio. It took a lot of shortcuts, diverting from the ADT, but I only had the week and this allows me to now say that I've walked from the Atlantic to the Rockies, which is rather satisfying.

The biggest thing to know about the American Discovery Trail as it passes through Ohio is that it follows the Buckeye Trail for most of its length, and also overlaps with the North Country Scenic Trail for a bit. The Buckeye Trail is a loop route that covers a significant chunk of Ohio, meandering for 1400+ miles through a ton of state parks and wildlife areas, along with a mix of towns. The NCST is even more ambitious, spanning 4600 miles across eight states. There is way more geographic and scenic diversity in Ohio than you might expect! Hocking Hills, in particular, has some of the prettiest scenery to hike through that you'll find.

Here are my posts from each day of walking in this state:
I'm behind on uploading all of the pics to the trip Facebook page, but there's a smattering on the Instagram. I also produced an episode on Ohio for the Sea to Shining Sea podcast, which I need to get back to at some point...

Anyway, if you're in the US and looking for some domestic hiking options, you could do a lot worse than Ohio!
How does it look for bike riding?
 

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