The much-anticipated completion of the Alum Creek Greenway Trail last fall connected three separate links into one 20-mile-plus stretch from Three Creeks Metro Park to the south to Westerville to the north.
The much-anticipated completion of the Alum Creek Greenway Trail last fall connected three separate links into one 20-mile-plus stretch from Three Creeks Metro Park to the south to Westerville to the north. Bike riders, joggers, Rollerbladers and dog walkers of all stripes who have packed the Olentangy Trail for years now have a new, much-needed option. "It's by far one of the most scenic stretches in Central Ohio, with a beautiful variety of terrain, from river to wetland to forest," says Brad Westall, the greenways planner for Columbus Recreation and Parks. "People are just now discovering it, but we expect the numbers to grow significantly."
The trail bisects 14 city parks, all of which provide a place to park and an easy entry onto the path. Over the span of its course, the trail crosses Alum Creek more than a dozen times, often via scenic timber-truss or steelsuspension bridges that provide overlooks to the creek.
"The bridges are the highlight for me," says Jody Dzuranin, a longtime bicycle advocate, co-founder of Friends of Camp Chase Trail and Metro Parks trail volunteer. "They've created some fantastic bridges that are eye-catching, and places people want to stop and take a picture or just look out."
In this, its first year of completion, Westall says he hopes to see 200,000 to 300,000 trail rides in 2016 (compared to more than 1 million rides on the Olentangy Trail, Central Ohio's original greenway).
One of the most-used sections of the Alum Creek Trail weaves through suburbia, connecting Strawberry Farms Park, Casto Park and Cooper Park. One of the trail's prettiest bridges, a timbered double-arch, traverses Alum Creek at Strawberry Farms. The trail continues north to Schrock Road, where it connects into Westerville's well-maintained trail system.
Sycamore Bottoms Bridge:
The Alum Creek Trail's newest bridge was dedicated by former Columbus Mayor Mike Coleman (left), a bike-trail fan, last October. Completion of the bridge was the final link connecting Westerville to Three Creeks. Access is available from Airport Drive, near DeMoyne's Greenhouse, or from adjacent Ohio Dominican University. The trail follows Sunbury Road north from here, through what many consider the most picturesque part of the entire trail. Riders will pass Valley Dale Ballroom, a series of dramatic cliffs near Mock Park and a boardwalk over wetlands near Innis Park before finally reaching the Easton soccer fields. "Between Easton and Ohio Dominican is as good a quality ride as you can find anywhere in Central Ohio," says Westall.
Wolfe Park Washout:
A 140-foot-long suspension bridge that carried riders over Alum Creek between Wolfe Park and Academy Park, just off Broad Street, gave out last summer. It's scheduled to reopen in July, but until then, a short detour down Broad Street is necessary.
Three Creeks Metro Park:
The first collaboration between Columbus Recreation and Parks and Metro Parks, Three Creeks marks the confluence of Alum, Big Walnut and Blacklick creeks, as well as the southern terminus of the Alum Creek Trail. With about 10 miles of trails within the park itself, a day of leisurely riding can be enjoyed here without ever leaving the property. If an Alum Creek ride isn't in the works, bicyclists also can connect with the Blacklick Creek Trail, which heads northeast and connects to two other Metro Parks-Pickerington Ponds and Blacklick Woods.