Welcome to Ohio!
Ohio is not a wilderness state, although there are places where it gets fairly wild. For the NCNST hiker, Ohio comes in basically two flavors: the generally flatland western section, and then the hillier eastern section. Much of the NCNST in the state is followed through roaded rural areas, although the trail penetrates several towns, and in the Dayton/Cincinnati area, the largest urban area the trail passes through. Still, for a state so populated, and with so little public land, there is a surprising amount of off-road trail.
The NCNST enters the State of Ohio from Pennsylvania SGL 285 in the Little Beaver Creek Watershed. From road walk to an abandoned rail grade in Beaver Creek State Forest the NCNST finds itself in the Beaver Creek State Park along the abandoned Beaver Canal Towpath with historic lock structures visible today. The trail passes through the town of Lisbon, an early settlement in the Ohio country. The trail generally follows the route of the Sandy and Beaver Canal Systems through Columbiana, Carroll, Stark and Tuscarawas Counties the NCNST joins with the Buckeye Trail just outside the historic Village of Zoar. Just passed the village the two trails converge on the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath across the Tuscarawas River.
The trail heads south, following the route of the Buckeye Trail for over 800 miles, taking in eastern, southern, and western Ohio before the NCNST departs the BT to head for southern Michigan. In eastern Ohio the trail heads south through the Muskingum River Watershed. Leesville, Tappan, Clendening, Piedmont, Salt Fork, Senecaville and Wolf Run Lakes offer lakeshore vistas of the forested hills of the Appalachian Plateau.
A loop of the BT exists in southeast Ohio, the NCNST heads south and east through the Marietta Unit of the rugged Wayne National Forest and down to historic Marietta at the confluence of the Muskingum and Ohio River. Marietta is Ohio’s first settlement and the gateway to the Northwest Territory. The trail turns northwest to finish out the loop in Stockport, Ohio on the Muskingum River.
From Stockport to Logan, OH on the Hocking River the trail continues through Ohio’s hill country, the Village of Chesterhill, a point on the Underground Railroad, Burr Oak State Park, the Athens Unit of the Wayne National Forest, and the Village of Shawnee. This region is known for its coal mining heritage and the continuing restoration efforts underway.
From Logan, OH to Tar Hollow State Forest the trail passes through the Hocking Hills Region, one of the most spectacular and most visited places in Ohio. Awe inspiring sandstone cliffs, caves, waterfalls, hemlock forests create habitat for unique species of plants and animals and good reason to explore the trail.
In South central Ohio the trail passes through Scioto Trail, Pike and Shawnee State Forests/State Parks, private and Ohio Historical Society lands. This area is rich in history and prehistory along with natural biodiversity. Fort Hill and the Serpent Mound are two outstanding examples of Ohio’s prehistoric heritage right on the NCNST.
The trail is mainly on road between Shawnee State Forest and East Fork State Park eventually arriving in Milford Ohio, the junction of 22,000 miles of recreational trails, including the American Discovery Trail, the Ohio to Erie Trail, the Underground Rail Road, the Sea to Sea Route, the Little Miami Scenic Trail, the Little Miami River Water Trail and of course the Buckeye and North Country Trail. Other than a spur that heads south to Eden Park in Cincinnati, OH the NCNST heads north along the Little Miami Scenic Trail to Yellow Springs, OH.
The trail arrives in Dayton, OH, the North Country Trail’s largest Trail town on a system of metroparks and bikepaths into downtown and then north to Tipp City, OH joining the route of the historic Miami and Erie Canal. Through Troy, Piqua, New Bremen, and other historic canal towns and on to Defiance, OH the Trail continues to follow the general route of the canal towpath into a region of Ohio once known as the Great Black Swamp that fed Lake Erie. Many locations in northwest Ohio were the frontline of the War of 1812.
Continuing on the towpath the Trail passes through Napoleon, OH where the NCNST and the Buckeye Trail diverge. The NCNST joins up with the Wabash and Cannonball Rail Trail administered by the Northwest Ohio Rail Trail Association. The NCNST short cuts a portion of the rail trail through Maumee State Forest and the unique habitat of Oak Openings Metro park. Rejoining the Wabash and Cannonball Trail heading west the NCNST before departing north towards the Michigan state line.