North Coast Inland Trail

Chris and me with the Oberlin Depot in the background
Part of the trail in Oberlin
The end of the ride – Tom, Bill, and Chris
At the start of the trail in Elmore
The trail between Elmore and Lindsey
Formerly part of the Great Black Swamp, this area is very fertile
Farmland and the Ohio Turnpike
End of the North Coast Inland Trail in Fremont
Trail marker in Fremont
Elmore Depot
A lovely little downtown in Elmore
The Red White and Brew in downtown Elmore

Ah, the dog days of summer – when kids are back in school and this year Tom isn’t!  Which gave us time this week to ride for two days on the North Coast Inland Trail – two of the hottest days of the summer.  The North Coast Inland Trail is built on the abandoned roadbed of the Toledo, Norwalk and Cleveland Railroad, which ran from Cleveland to Chicago until 1975.

Eventually the North Coast Inland Trail will run from Cleveland to the Indiana state line.  Significant sections of the trail are completed, but they are not currently connected as a whole.  There are segments in Huron County, Lorain County, Sandusky County, and Ottawa County.  The Wabash Cannonball Trail is a 46 mile section of the North Coast Inland Trail west of Toledo.  The trail passes through hardwood forests, crosses several rivers, passes a lot of farmland, and offers wonderful views of northwestern Ohio.

On Monday we rode the Lorain County portion of the North Coast Inland Trail from Kipton to Elyria.  We parked in Oberlin at the Depot and then rode to Kipton, turned around, rode to Elyria, and rode back to Oberlin.  Tom and I really like the rail-trails because, although you have to cross roads, the trail is generally not on the road.  There was a very small section in Oberlin that was on the road, but otherwise the trail was beautiful, shaded, and set aside from the small town and urban life around it.  The trail ends very abruptly in Elyria and you have to ride on a busy road to get to the parking lot (although there was a nice bike lane) so we were glad we parked in Oberlin.

Kipton is a small town with an interesting history.  It was the site of the Great Kipton Train Wreck on April 19, 1891 when two trains collided head-on, killing eight people.  The wreck was the result of the station engineer’s watch being slow by four minutes, which caused him to miscalculate when to move one of the trains to a side track.  After this accident, new regulations were put in place where all station masters, engineers, and other railroad officials used the same quality watch manufactured by Webster Ball in Cleveland Ohio:  the Ball Railroad Watch.  The historical marker in Kipton suggests that this led to the origin of the saying “on the ball,” but I did a little fact-checking, and it appears that the phrase “on the ball” originated with the game of Rounders in the mid 1700’s.

We rode this section of the trail with a good friend from college, Chris Ferlinc and her friend Bill.  It was fun to ride with them, although you never ride as fast when you are riding with friends because you spend too much time gabbing.  The trail wasn’t busy and we spent much of the time riding three across.  The trail was asphalt and in good repair and we rode 28 miles.

On Tuesday we rode the North Coast Inland Trail from Elmore to Fremont.  This time we parked in Elmore because the description said there was an ice-cream store next to the trail.  Tom reminded me I had to ride BEFORE I got ice cream.  He’s such a slave driver.  Tuesday was even hotter and more humid than Monday.  Rain was expected, so we got going in the morning.

This part of the trail is more rural, running mostly through farmland.  It is also very straight with little shade.  The trail continues on the road through Fremont, but we decided to turn around at the park where the dedicated trail ended.  We only rode 21 miles but that was plenty in the heat.

When we finished, we rode up one block through the lovely and lively downtown of Elmore.  Elmore has 1,400 people and is part of the Woodmore (Woodville and Elmore) school district.  There was an ice cream shop next to the trail, but I wanted a sandwich, so we chose the Red White and Brew Cafe.  It was excellent, with a nice selection of sandwiches, coffee, soups, and dessert.  It was a busy place at lunch time with both locals and trail riders.  We enjoyed our sandwiches and cold pop and finished lunch with some no-bake cookies for Tom and an ice cream cone for me.  If you do this section of the trail, we highly recommend stopping here – but note that it is closed on Mondays and closes at 2 on Sundays and 4 the other days of the week.

It is so interesting to learn about all these wonderful places in Ohio.  I’ve lived in Ohio all my life and every day I learn something new about my home state.