Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Director Mary Mertz officially designated the Buckeye Trail as a State Trail with “Blue Blazes” marking its 1,450 miles. The recent ceremony was held during the annual Brrrrr Oak Winter Hike at Burr Oak State Park in Athens County in Southeast Ohio, but hikers this summer will find new adventures around the Buckeye State.
The Buckeye Trail loops around Ohio, reaching into every corner of the state. The designation as a “State Trail” recognizes the prominence of the Buckeye Trail in the network of Ohio’s recreational trails and solidifies the partnership between ODNR and the Buckeye Trail Association.
The Buckeye Trail is only the third trail in Ohio to receive this recognition.
“Following the Buckeye Trail is one of the best adventures you can find in Ohio’s great outdoors,” Gov. Mike DeWine said. “This designation shows how important this trail is for Ohioans who want to see the sights our state has to offer.”
The designation as a State Trail recognizes the prominence of the Buckeye Trail in the network of Ohio’s recreational trails and solidifies the partnership between ODNR and the Buckeye Trail Association (BTA).
“Trails are something we are very passionate about at ODNR, and the Buckeye Trail is one of my favorite paths in Ohio,” Director Mertz said. “From the shores of Lake Erie to the banks of the Ohio River and through the hills of Appalachia, this looping trail highlights something in every corner of the state that makes Ohio beautiful.”
The Buckeye Trail passes through nearly 40 ODNR properties including state forests, state wildlife areas, state nature preserves, and nearly 20 state parks. This includes a 26-mile stretch of Buckeye Trail through the new Appalachian Hills Wildlife Area in Morgan County.
The inspiration for the Buckeye Trail began in the 1950s. That vision has grown into 1,450 miles of trail connecting big cities and large tracts of forested lands throughout Ohio.
The Buckeye Trail Association is the leader in building, maintaining, protecting, and promoting the use of Ohio’s longest scenic hiking trail for our citizens, communities, and partners. The trail has been expanded and maintained by the association along with dedicated volunteers and landowners.
“This designation is a great compliment to the hard work of generations of Buckeye Trail Association volunteers who have built, maintained, protected, and promoted the trail they dreamed to hike, and share with us all,” said Executive Director Andrew Bashaw of the Buckeye Trail Association. “This designation is not just an acknowledgement of past achievements with a vast network of partners like ODNR, it is also a commitment to the future work creating an even better experience that is there for all of us when we need it most.”
The other two trails to receive this designation are a 40-mile segment of the Miami and Erie Canal Towpath Trail in Northwest Ohio and the Blackhand Gorge Trail in Licking County.
U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles, Ohio recently urged a U.S. House of Representatives committee to begin the process for designating the Buckeye Trail in Ohio as a “National Scenic Trail,” which would provide it with federal money for educational programs and maintenance. The study is the first step needed to secure the designation. Ryan said there are currently 11 national scenic trails, and the Buckeye Trail would be the fifth longest.
Bashaw said the national designation would bring more recognition for the Buckeye Trail, increase the use it gets and the resources devoted to it. He said it physically connects sites around the state such as Northeast Ohio’s Cuyahoga Valley National Park, the Ohio and Erie Canal towpath and Headland Dunes State Nature Reserve “in one unified trail experience.”
“For some the Buckeye Trail is their very first outdoor adventure in a new parent’s backpack carrier on a local nature trail, an outdoor classroom on a school field trip, or the first real overnight backpacking trip with their scout troop over the challenging ridges of the “Little Smokies” of Shawnee State Forest and Wilderness Area,” he said. “For many it has been the safe place to meet and reconnect during the Covid-19 pandemic, and for others it’s the needed time and space for a combat veteran to walk off the war by completing a three-month thru-hike – and for millions of everyday citizens, a welcome few hours of respite from modern-day life.”