Kokosing Gap Trail, Mount Vernon Ohio

During one of our “slow” days in Ohio, Tom and I rode the tandem on the Kokosing Gap Trail.  We rode this trail once before, before I started writing the blog.  It is definitely a blog-worthy trail so we rode it again.

Railroad bridge on the Kokosing Gap Trail
Railroad bridge on the Kokosing Gap Trail

The Kokosing Gap Trail is a 14 mile rail-trail between Mount Vernon and Danville, Ohio.  Although there are times when you feel like you are going up or down, the trail is mostly flat and nicely paved.  It was built on the former Pennsylvania Line and uses 250 foot railroad bridges to cross the Kokosing River twice.   You can see the railroad origins in the bridges as well as the little town of Gambier.  Gambier, the home of Kenyon College, has restored the depot, a 1940 Alco 0-6-0 locomotive, and a 1924 Chesapeake & Ohio caboose that are located next to the trail.


Another interesting landmark along the trail is located in Howard.  You can ride under a brick bridge built by the railroad for a watercourse for an old mill.  The restored mill is now a residence along the Kokosing Gap Trail.  There is a playground on one side of the mill and the Hellbender Riparian Preserve on the other side.  The Hellbender is an aquatic, giant salamander found in isolated places in the eastern United States.  Although endangered, the Hellbender still lives in Jelloway Creek and the Kokosing River.

columbus-028You can access the Kokosing Gap Trail from the southeast side of Mount Vernon, the Kenyon College campus in Gambier, Howard, or Danville.  Each of these spots has a clearly marked trailhead, restroom, and drinking water.  Although the trail is open year-round, the water is shut off in the winter in Danville and Howard.

We jumped on the trail in Mount Vernon, rode to Danville, and then back.  The ride took us about two hours and there were very few other people on the trail.  Of course, we were riding on a weekday afternoon when it was 87 degrees.  Probably too hot for a lot of people, but the trail was mostly shaded and it didn’t feel too hot.

columbus-075The Kokosing Gap Trail ends just two miles from the Heart of Ohio Trail on the other side of Mount Vernon.  There are plans to join the trails eventually and the railroad bed is clearly set aside.  You can ride through several residential neighborhoods to make your way to the Heart of Ohio Trail.  Mount Vernon also has restaurants and hotels.

Tom and I enjoyed our ride.  The Kokosing Gap Trail is a nicely designed and maintained trail that travels through beautiful Ohio countryside, small towns, and a small city.  You can ride all of it or just a part and savor some of the sights along the way.

At the Mt. Vernon end
Tom ready to roll
Kokosing River
Gambier “depot” restrooms
Restored locomotive
Railroad crossing stuff
Most of the trail looks like this
Tunnel and old mill
Brick tunnel in Howard
You can hike the Buckeye Grove Loop Trail here
Danville end