Growing up in Colorado and living here my whole life, I have been spoiled by the outdoors. I have also have a slight bias when it comes to single track trails. I spent three years living in Crested Butte, arguable the greatest place in the world for mountain biking. Having endless trails right outside my door, I could ride a new trail everyday of the summer and never ride the same trail twice. Even after living here for 28 years now, I still am constantly finding new and exciting trails.
Now enter Ohio. When I think of Ohio I think of the Cleveland Indians. Or maybe of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I think of dreary grey weather that is a constant. Nothing like the great sunny weather of Colorado. One thing I certainly don’t think of is high quality single track. So when I made my trek east for my first ever trip to the Great Midwestern state of Ohio I kept my expectations low, and man I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Every so often, and I think all mountain bikers can relate to this, you start riding a new trail and there is an instant feeling of joy. The sound of your tires, the smell of the surroundings and the sights all around. As my girlfriend and I made our way to the Mohican State Park I had no idea what I had in store.
Joined by a friend, I felt the over powering need to make a remark to her comment, “Everyone always thinks Ohio is flat.” Come on! In Colorado our trails start going straight up a mountain. You can easily climb 2,ooo feet in a short four miles. So when Heidi tried to make a comparison to steepness I felt the need to smash down my one and only gear a little harder.
As I passed the two chatting girls something came over me. I had this overwhelming desire to go fast! The rolling trail was littered with roots, rocks and the occasional muddy puddle. The downhills were fast and swooping while the climbs were short and punchy. There wasn’t the hour long climb I was use to in Colorado, which was a bit of a relieve.
The terrain and environment were both very different from anything I have ridden in before. Ferns covered the ground and seemed to stop perfectly on the edge of the narrow trail. Massive trees were all around, blocking out what very little sun poked through the clouds. Rock and wooden bridges scattered the trail regularly to avoid major water drainage or mud bog. This trail had me feeling like a 12 year old boy.
As I flew along through the winding trail, I knew instantly that this trail would be placed on my favorite trails list. The part I loved most? It was nothing like any trail I had ever ridden before. True, this trail was not flat. Over the 24 miles we climbed and descended 3,500 feet. But also true was that it didn’t have a major grunting climb, which I enjoyed. The trail was sustained. It seemed just as soon as you had enough climbing it would roll over to a ripping downhill. Off camber, rocky, buff, wet, loose, steep switch backs, high speed rollers, this trail had it all!
By the time the 24 mile marker was seen my legs had a good burn, but I wanted more! It can be hard to describe the fun I had, but one thing is for sure. My view point of Ohio singletrack will forever be changed. Another thing is for sure, the Mohican Trail will be placed high on my favorite list along side trails like 401, Doctor’s Park, Red Ridge, Green Lake and Whole Enchilada! So if you find yourself making a trip to the wet grey state of Ohio, fear not as there is fun to be had in them there hills!
There are a variety of great places to stay near Loudonville, Ohio but the best choice would be to stay in the Mohican State Park. Both primitive camping and cabins are available. Classic Ohio country side surrounds the park, so don’t expect the hustle and bustle of Cleveland. Each year the Mohican 100 race uses this trail along with a few others in the area, so if you are up for a good challenge check out this race.