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The North Coast Inland Trail will one day stretch across northern Ohio from Indiana to Pennsylvania on a network of connecting off-road trails. Today, large sections of the trail, especially from the Indiana border to Lorain County, Ohio, are well defined. One of these segments, a 19.3-mile route from Wakeman to Elyria, formerly known as the Oberlin Bike Path, is a popular and well-used trail. The other components of the North Coast Inland Trail are located in Lorain County and Sandusky and Ottawa counties.
The Lorain County trail follows the corridor of the former Toledo, Norwalk and Cleveland Railroad along a primarily paved pathway that offers a classic rail-trail experience: flat and mostly straight. Only the trail’s western tip, from Wakeman to Kipton, is crushed stone.
The route begins at County Line Road (also called Green Street) at the Huron County border in Wakeman. Enjoy a quiet ride through farmland for about 2 miles before reaching Kipton’s downtown community park.
Just past the park, you will find a plaque commemorating the Great Kipton Train Wreck. It was here in 1891 that two trains collided head on, resulting in eight deaths. The wreck was blamed on a train conductor’s watch, which was slow by 4 minutes and caused him to delay moving one of the trains to a separate track. Railroad officials hired prominent Cleveland jeweler Webb Ball to investigate railroad timekeeping and institute standards to avoid such accidents. Locals credit Ball’s capable work with the origin of the much-used idiom “on the ball.”
Heading toward Oberlin, you’ll pass rural homes and enjoy sweeping views of a community golf course. Before entering Oberlin, the route turns off the rail corridor and onto country roads for less than 1 mile. The on-road bike lanes are well defined, traffic is light, and the course is easy to negotiate. The rail-trail picks up again in the beautiful college town of Oberlin. The path travels through the town’s central park, which has drinking fountains and a playground, and passes Oberlin’s restored train depot. Here you will also find numerous restaurants and shops along nearby Main Street.
Past Oberlin, the vista becomes rolling farmland, with herds of cattle and roaming horses, as well as rural homesteads. Birdlife along the way includes cardinals, turkey vultures, bluebirds, warblers, and vireos. This end of the trail has recently been extended and now continues to the Black River Reservation in Elyria. This trailhead provides restrooms and water fountains, as well as a connection to the Bridgeway Trail.
There is no parking at the western end of the trail. The Kipton trailhead has the closest available parking and is easy to reach. From the Ohio Turnpike (I-80/I-90), take Exit 135, and head south on Baumhart Road/County Road 51. In 1.3 miles turn right onto OH 113. In 1.4 miles turn left onto Vermilion Road, which becomes OH 511. Go 5.2 miles, and turn right onto Rosa St. Park on the right in Kipton Community Park. The end of the trail is 2 miles west.
To reach the Oberlin trailhead from the Ohio Turnpike (I-80/I-90), take Exit 140. Head south on OH 58 to downtown Oberlin. Go 6.4 miles to reach the parking lot on the right at the Oberlin Depot (240 S. Main St.).
To reach the northern end of the trail: From I-90, take Exit 148 for OH 254 toward Sheffield/-Avon. Follow OH 254 west 1.6 miles, then turn left onto W. River Road. In 1.5 miles turn left onto Midway Blvd., and continue straight (veering left) onto Ford Road. In 0.5 mile turn left into the Black River Reservation and the High Meadows Picnic Area parking lots.
In May of 2017 I put in 30.3 miles riding out and back on the Lorain County section of the North Coast Inland Trail from the Gateway trailhead in Elyria to 1.5 miles west of Kipton, OH. In Elyria, the trail extends beyond the Gateway trailhead up to the Black River Reservation Metropark. However, I would suggest that this section could be tricky as traffic will be heavy around the commercial/retail area near Midway Mall. The trail itself is a wide paved path in good shape except for the last 1.5 miles, which starting at Baird Road switches to medium sized limestone gravel -- probably not a good idea for skinny-tired bikes. West of Kipton the trail ends and you would have to ride the roads to reach the next completed section. Bring sunscreen with you as the further west you go the more open the trail becomes as you get into farming country.
According to ohiobikeways.net this 15 mile section is part of the 67.5 miles of trail currently open. When completely done this trail will stretch from Elyria to Toledo, OH and will cover about 270 miles making it probably the penultimate East-West trail in Ohio.
Went on our normal bike ride on the NCITrail with 12 people stopped at the Oberlin Café for lunch . Found out the city of Oberlin passed laws against locking your bikes to lamp post ,park bench, tree, they will confiscate your bike. Charlie
I came from Michigan rode my bike from Monroe I rode the segment from Elmore to Bellevue I'm planning to ride the hole length nice
"Dave" August 17, 2016 The west end of the trail is rough gravel and leads to a busy road (RT20. The east end leads to a 2 lane one way Ed with the trailhead nowhere near the end. The best part was a McDonald's smoothie in Oberlin.
We've ridden the entire length of this trail several times, from Kipton to Elyria and back. It's typically a very pleasant, easy ride with friendly people who always say "hi" as we pass. However, today (7/4/2016), on our way back from Elyria, we encountered a "gang" of at least 15 youths (probably aged 10-14) between the "green" crossing after McDonald's and before the golf course.
They were grouped together both deep and wide. We saw an opening on the right and said "excuse us...on your right" and they started trash-talking, challenging us to race them (they would have lost), being rude and threatening. We did not engage them, hoping they would lose interest.
They continued taunting and jabbering for about 4 minutes, before turning left off of the trail.
We've seen the occasional "shady" individual or groups of two on the trail, and just continue on our way. But, this was a bit scary. Knowing the Oberlin area, I'm actually surprised it hasn't happened before. So, be careful out there. Maybe carry a small can of mace, just in case.
I guess im spoiled riding in PA and WV . Gave this a try being only an hour away . Next time ill make the extra drive out of state or at least the Towpath in Cuyahoga Valley . If you like a bike road that is straight and flat with no scenery than this is for you .
this is our closest & one of our most favorite trails! we either ride a quick 11 mile roundtrip Kipton to Oberlin or time permitting Oberlin to Elyria 16 miles roundtrip or the full 26.2 miles Kipton to Elyria on the weekend. beautiful countryside, smooth & flat ~ always fun! excited to see work at Baird Rd to extend the trail westbound. we LOVE this trail!
Love this trail. If you park in Elyria there are no bathrooms & really none on the trail. Only a few benches along the way. There is a McDonalds about 8 miles in to the ride. The trail is not usually too crowded. There are stretches with direct sun exposure so sunscreen is suggested and plenty of water. The trail ends and you have to ride on the road for about 1.5 mile but there is a designated lane for bikes. It's worth it to do it because the trail picks back up and it's a nice part of the trail.
There is an option to ride into the college town of Oberlin. There are some sandwich shops and ice cream.
The trail is as discribed. We rode from Kipton east to Elyria and back. Was a nice early fall day for the 26 mile round trip. I would imagine that in the dog days of summer, during mid day, this might be a rough ride as the trail is not overly canopied.
Anyway, we traveled from the east side of Cleveland to check out a new trail and found it well worth the trip. Enjoy!
This is one of my favorite places to ride. I can use my headphones and not worry about car traffic, other than crossing backroads. It's very pretty, even in winter. Go later in the evening and you'll see rabbits and deer crossing your path. It's a gradual incline and decline so you will pedal. If the winter is not harsh this year, I will keep riding all winter as well.
We rode on the Ohio North Coast Inland Trail, starting in Kipton and heading toward Oberlin, in August 2012. Our ride was unfortunately shortened by a rainstorm, but we had a great time and the trail is in great shape. We look forward to returning!
As a novice rider, I really enjoyed this trail. Straight and mostly flat with very gradual inclines, the trail takes you through great farmland and small towns. Be careful at intersections. A lot of the trail is without shade, so an early start keeps you cool during summer months. Get off the trail in Oberlin to see the historic college's great buildings, have brunch in one of the small restaurants, and head back to finish the trail. The trail still ends outside of Kipton. I don't know if anyone will connect this great trail as was mentioned in the reviews from a decade ago but if they do, I for one will be riding it.
Words can not describe or do justice to this flat and easy to ride trail.
You must be careful as many of the streets to cross are highways. One especially is very blind. Signs warn you of this.
People are friendly to bikers there. Traffic stopped in both directions so we could cross. I have not seen this before.
"This is a peaceful trail, great for biking. It is presently underutilized even on weekends, and I selfishly hope it stays that way for a while."
Great trail -- can't wait until they get it all done.
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