Pedal of Honor
New mountain-bike trail darts through Chestnut Ridge Metro Park
When first scouting Metro Parks land for a new mountain bike trail, Brian Adams struck out.
Good terrain at Battelle Darby Creek was in a hunting area. Nothing in Prairie Oaks had the contours to keep a trail dry. Three Creeks was as flat as Kansas.
Three swings, three misses.
Then a park executive suggested he look at some unused acreage at Chestnut Ridge, a small and often overlooked green space in the tiny town of Carroll. Adams saw potential immediately. Then, park staff took him to a secret spot—an old apple barn atop one of the area’s towering hills.
He was sold.
“I saw that view and that terrain, and I said, ‘Yeah, that’s awesome. That’s where we need to build,’ ” said Adams, the Metro Parks liaison for the Central Ohio Mountain Bike Organization, a local advocacy group.
Left over from an orchard that once occupied Chestnut Ridge, the barn sits on an Appalachian foothill overlooking part of Ohio’s wide, flat middle. Woods, farmland and suburbs sprawl beneath it, and the Columbus skyline shines in the distance.
The apple barn area is the pinnacle of the height and beauty of the 7.5-mile mountain bike trail system that opened in October—the first in the Metro Parks and only the second within 45 minutes of Downtown.
“The grand opening had well over 100 cars in the parking lot,” Adams said. “We’re hoping to get plenty of riders out there on it.”
COMBO did a lot with relatively little space, constructing the mileage within a western section of the park bordered by Mason Road NW. Volunteers are putting the finishing touches on a 1.5-mile addition on the trail’s northern end.
Difficulty increases as riders make their way south, so each can test skill and strength before choosing to enter a harder segment. The trail differs from the beloved loops at Alum Creek State Park by offering more elevation gain, slightly trickier climbs and a tighter flow.
“I tend to think Alum Creek is like a race track,” said Willy Browning, who in April traveled from Pleasantville to ride Chestnut Ridge. “This is a little more technical. It depends on what you are looking for that day.”
Easier portions near the trailhead pass through wide, grassy fields. Much of the middle runs through brushy forest with narrower dirt paths that dip into small creeks and climb slowly up hillsides with tight turns.
The most enjoyable portion comes after the fork for the more difficult loop. There the trail enters a fragrant pine forest, and looser design allows for faster flow and some thrilling, winding, downhill coasts. A few bridges can be found along the way.
Those who venture into the more difficult southern segment will find rockier footing, fast downhill and a long ascent to the apple barn that started it all.
Adams hopes this trail blazes many others nearby. “I would like to establish our relationship in the Metro Parks and make mountain biking a viable option for Metro Parks use.”