[Alert! Violent "Knockout Game" comes to Alum Creek Trail. Learn more.]
The last gap in the trail was officially closed on October 2, 2015. The bikeway is now completed and is a main thoroughfare for the cross-state Ohio-to-Erie Trail through Columbus.
(Currently there is one bridge out along the trail near Wolf Park. Repairs are not expected to be completed until March 2016. Check the Updates page for the latest news.)
As with many trails that move through urban landscapes, there's a lot see along this bikeway. The trail skirts alongside housing developments, roadways, businesses and a golf course. It bobbs and weaves along the Alum Creek, moving under bridges and across the creek numerous times. Like the Olentangy Trail, connecting parks along its route is a major objective, linking the trail with recreational facilities, as well as water and restroom locations.
The trail also pays homage to a great bike racer, Major Taylor, who receives trailside honors. Bikeway visionary Ed Honton is also remembered with a plaque and bridge dedicated in his memory. Ed founded the Ohio-to-Erie Trail project in 1991.
If you are a fan of bridge design and architecture, you'll see an interesting variety of examples along the bikeway, with the bow truss being the most common.
The trail does a wonderful job of avoiding many busy road crossings by using bridge underpasses along the creek. This adds continuity to your ride and keeps you moving along. The only downside is that a number of these underpasses are prone to flooding and can be impassible during high water.
With some bikeways, such as the Ohio & Erie Towpath, trail closures due to flooding are not unusual. The heavy layer of dried mud we encountered along several Alum Creek underpasses demonstrates that it too suffers from flooding. For recreational riders this is a minor inconvenience. For commuters or those using the corridor for travel, this can present problems, especially where street-level crossings are not available.
During our visit, several of these underpasses were closed for construction.
Trail signage keeps you up to speed on the park names and distances as you travel. The occasional 'You are Here' plotted on a large trail map sign shows you the big picture and gives you proper perspective. Some signage is also located where connecting spurs join the main trail and gives distances and directions to nearby destinations. This is all very helpful.
Unfortunately, the signage that is most important to first time vistors is woefully inadequate. Once you're on the trail, that last thing you want to do is play "which way does this trail go?" Spurs, connectors, wide sidewalks and other pathways love to link up with city trails. All of these connections, when unmarked (or not marked properly), bewilder first time users.
(See this blog entry for more on trail - challenged signs.)
Some trail sections have an aging surface that has heaved up and cracked. As the trail was constructed, it was tied in with existing older segments in various parks, as well as a section of the aging I-670 Bikeway. As a result, you'll travel on surfaces that run the gamut from excellent to poor. But overall the surface condition is quite good.
On the Sunday that we visited the trail, the parks along the route were filled with people enjoying soccer and basketball games. The Easton complex is nice, only to be outdone by its Westerville counterpart further north where a grid of bikeways envelopes the park and city.
Seeing the network of park trails that exist in Westerville makes a lasting impression. Add in the city-wide trail network and it's obvious that ped and bike travel is a valued priority to the local community.
Local drivers also showed respect for the trail when parking alongside the bikeway.
The Alum Creek Greenway Trail roughly parallels the Olentangy Trail which runs alongside the Olentangy River to the west.
The two trails share similarities as both use waterway greenbelts that connect with parks along their routes. Both connect with bikeways to the south as well. The Olentangy with the Lower Scioto Trail and the Alum Creek with the Blacklick Trail.
At Cooper Park we happened across a signed bike route that connects the two trails. Look for more bikeway connections to be made in Columbus in the near future.
Length: 22 miles / asphalt & concrete
Condition: Overall Very Good
Facilities: Available in many parks along the route -- Westerville Sports Complex, Heritage Park, Alum Creek South Park, Sycamore Fields, Heron Pond, Madison Mills, 3 Creeks Metropark.
Food: Didn't notice (or seek out) any trailside restaurants. Undoubtedly there are establishments close by.
Parking: Available at parks along the trail -- Heritage Park, Alum Creek South Park, Cooper & Casto parks, Partridge Park, Nelson, Wolfe & Academy parks, Smith Farm, Sycamore Fields, Heron Pond, Madison Mills, 3 Creeks Metropark.
23.3mi 14.4mi 10mi 8.6mi 0mi