I went back to the Buckeye Trail yesterday, back near the place where I first discovered the beauty of this interconnected network of trails, bike paths, sidewalks, and roads. My 565.8-mile, 173-hour, year-long mission to complete the Northeast Ohio Loop of the Buckeye Trail has been accomplished for just about a week. But I couldn’t stay away.
I just like being on the Buckeye Trail. It’s come to feel like Home to me.
For those who may be less familiar with the Buckeye Trail, I thought I would share a list of my Top Ten Hikes. This list offers a representative sampling of some of the best that the Buckeye Trail has to offer, ranked Letterman-style: from #10 to #1. Each listing includes a picture and a link to the trail maps.
I hiked this section of the Buckeye Trail on August 16, 2019. It features classic Ohio forests, hills, falling rivers, and some particularly pretty meadows. But the most unusual feature of this hike might be the strange river-side sculpture known as the Henry Church Rock.
#9 – Deer Lick Cave
I’ve hiked this section of the Buckeye Trail on multiple occasions, but my most memorable experience on these trails might be from November 10, 2017. On that date, this cave became the site of one of the most profound personal encounters with God, as I feel He spoke to me during a season of darkness and depression. In addition to the sentimental reasons for appreciating this hike, however, it’s also a really interesting area to explore — with undulating hills and caves. One of my favorite sections of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and one of my favorite sections of the Buckeye Trail.
#8 – Downtown Akron
I hiked this section of the Buckeye Trail on January 4, 2019. It’s unique because it’s so urban: mostly concrete… twenty-story buildings… steaming manhole covers and sewer grates… traffic… But this section of the Buckeye Trail is also significant because it connects to the Ohio & Erie Canal Trail system which runs all the way north to and through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and south to the Canton area.
I hiked this section of the Buckeye Trail on March 15, 2019. I included the northern part of Stark County’s Quail Hollow Park along with several of the roads ambling through prototypical Ohio farmlands just north of Hartville (and they featured some great road names, too!).
#6 – Headwaters Park
I hiked this section of the Buckeye Trail on December 6, 2019. This segment of trail is extra-special because it ended up being the capstone of the whole project to hike the Northeast Ohio Loop of the Buckeye Trail. But it was a fitting “Finish Line,” with a broad, clear path through the woods, beautiful views of the lake and all the little tributaries that stream into the basin to form the headwaters of the Cuyahoga River.
I’ve hiked this section of the Buckeye Trail a few times, but I especially enjoyed a trip to this section of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Buckeye Trail with my kids on November 27, 2017. This area provides beautiful views across the Cuyahoga Valley (especially if viewed at sunset, as we did) and one of the prettiest waterfalls on the Buckeye Trail.
I hiked this section of the Buckeye Trail on May 24, 2019. Two nature reservations connect, via the Buckeye Trail, and they’re both fantastic. I especially enjoyed the gigantic trees around Gildersleeve Mountain in Chapin Forest. It felt like a primeval forest. And an actual mountain. The names in this area were great, and the places they described were even greater.
#3 – Mogadore Reservoir
I hiked this section of the Buckeye Trail on January 11, 2019. It features a beautiful, rugged, lakeside trail — which was especially gorgeous after a heavy snowfall. This also happens to be one of the sections of the Buckeye Trail that’s closest to Kent.
#2 – Camp Asbury to Hiram
I hiked this section of the Buckeye Trail on September 13, 2019. It’s one of my absolute favorites! It includes a beautiful bike path (built on top of a former railroad) tunneling through trees, a beautiful little waterfall, Aspen groves, and lovely rolling hills with farm fields.
I hiked these sections of the Buckeye Trail on October 10th and 11th, 2019. They were so beautiful I had to go back — two days in a row — even though it took longer than an hour to drive, each way! The Headlands section (the Eastern part of the lake-front trail) had the best forests and marshlands. The Lakeside section (the Western part of the lake-front trail) had better lake views. When I get the chance to do it again, I’ll park by the Mentor Harbor Marina and then hike all the way to Headlands Beach State Park and back.
Follow the Blue Blazes
So: let me know if you have any other experiences with the Buckeye Trail, from which I (or others) might be able to learn. I hope that my relationship with the Buckeye Trail will continue past 2019 — but in any event, I’m glad for the way it’s enriched my life this year.