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Knox County Revisited: Tale of Two Trails

Knox County Revisited: Tale of Two Trails

 

By Giles Kennedy

 

Family and Travel Columnist

 

With recent restrictions due to COVID 19 in Ohio, Columbus Wired continues their goal to bring you fresh content and ideas for family trips.

 

Many people head north of Columbus to rural Knox County; a hidden gem thanks to its park system and residents.

 

Many people head to the likes of the Kokosing Valley and nearby Mohican State Park and Forest.

 

Many others; however, make the nearly 45 minute-1 hour plus drive to two of its signature trails.

 

The elder statesman Kokosing Gap Trail (which starts in Mount Vernon) and the newer Heart of Ohio Trail (aka the HOOT) with its start point/southern terminus in Centerburg.

 

The northern point of the HOOT and the start point/southern trailhead of the Kokosing Gap Trail meet in Mount Vernon.

 

The entire lengths of both trails line the former Pennsylvania Railroad lines which used to connect Cleveland and Columbus.

 

It is only fitting that the former PRR station houses a way station for hikers and bikers alike. It also hosts offices for the Mount Vernon City Park and Knox County Park services. As well, a local model railroad club; the Kokosing Valley Central, calls the lower floor its home.

 

The station stands on the eastern boundary of Ariel Foundation Park.

(Stay tuned to the website; at time of publishing….the station is closed due to COVID-19)

 

Since restroom facilities are limited on the park grounds, plan accordingly.

 

https://www.arielfoundationpark.org/

 

The main part of the park is on recycled land from the former PPG Glass plant.

 

It includes a smoke stack turned observation tower, repurposed buildings for events and picnics, and renewed green space for hiking, biking and fishing.

 

While there are many dining and exploration points in Mount Vernon; the Heart of Ohio, Kokosing Gap and more north Mohican Valley Trails make for an adventure in itself.

 

We will continue to focus mainly on the two trails.

 

https://knoxcountyparks.org/trails/bike-trails/heart-of-ohio-bike-trail/

 

www.facebook.com/groups/heartofohiotrail

 

http://www.kokosinggaptrail.org/

 

The Kokosing Gap Trail has been around since 1991; the Heart of Ohio Trail has been available to folks since the late 1990’s.

 

Winding southward from Mount Vernon; many places have trailheads along Ohio State Route 3.

 

-501 S. Main Street, Mount Vernon 43050 at C.A.&C. Depot

-7760 Thayer Road, Mount Vernon 43050

-7500 Patton Road, Mount Vernon 40350 (Handicap Accessible Parking Lot)

-7180 Simmons Church Road, Centerburg 43011 (Mount Liberty)

-59 Johnsville Road, Centerburg 43011 (Memorial Park)

-101 N Hartford Street, Centerburg 43011 Fix-it Station and (Future site of the Heart of Ohio Trail Welcome Center)

-2750 Huffman Road, Centerburg 43011

 

Many of the businesses in Centerburg are open. Please refer to the Knox County Visitors Bureau for details on places to dine.

 

https://www.visitknoxohio.org/business/category/13/food-and-drink

https://www.facebook.com/ColumbusWired/photos/pcb.4035293373201962/4035292129868753/

Bonus notes

 

Many bicyclists ride through the small village of Croton; made famous by the Hartford Fairgrounds. This is home to the regionally famous Hartford Fair.

 

In town, a small coffee and sandwich shop is a great waypoint for explorers through the region.

 

Bouncing Bean Coffee and Tea has great coffee drinks, smoothies, sandwiches and snacks.

 

https://bouncinbeanco.com/

 

https://www.facebook.com/bouncinbean

 

Also, many hikers and cyclists start their hike/ride either in Centerburg, Sunbury or Westerville.

 

Again, plan accordingly and prep accordingly.

 

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