Venture: Little Miami Scenic Trail

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Taking the two-wheel route between Xenia and Springfield this month, you'll need to watch out for leaf piles and black walnuts, pesky wheel-stoppers of the most irritating order.

Other than that, you're good to go. Seriously.

One of numerous recreational trails popping up around suburban Dayton, the Little Miami Scenic Trail is an absolutely beautiful bike path that's completely flat, straight as a pin and protected from the wind by two borders of tall, colorful trees.

It's similar to the Olentangy Greenway Trail - minus pets, street noise, crowds, roller skaters and busy intersections. This gem of Ohio's growing rail-trail network is your easy entry to the world of long-distance riding.

All told, its 70 miles run uninterrupted to Milford, a suburb of Cincinnati. I rode the 20-mile Xenia-to-Springfield stretch on a fixed-gear track frame and barely broke a sweat. A friend riding a heavy Schwinn Traveler, virtually unchanged from the mid-'80s, made it quite comfortably, too.

From Xenia, the trail winds northeast near U.S. Rt. 68, though none of it is shared roadway, a feature common to most Ohio bike routes. You're secluded enough to collect your thoughts, yet never too far from a bathroom or a place to rest your legs.

Quaint family farms lie just beyond the tree line, punctuated with silos, grazing livestock and split-rail fences. The Little Miami River makes several appearances, with several bridges spanning its clean, quiet waters. Every so often, you come to a winding country road that gets only a handful of cars a day.

It's a side of Ohio you can't see any other way, and you won't regret having to turn around and head back through again.

Trip tips:

The trail between Xenia and Springfield roughly follows the path of U.S. Rt. 68, though you never share the trail with cars. Here's how to get the most out of your time on two wheels.

Getting on the trail ...

Start your trip at Shawnee Park, a beautiful green space just north of downtown Xenia. There's plenty of parking, and the trail is easy to find near the northern end. Visit

Grabbing a bike ...

Take a quick walk up the street to K&G Bike Center, 594 N. Detroit St. Staff is very friendly and rents plenty of comfy cruisers. Call 937-372-2555 or visit

Taking a detour ...

Historic Glen Helen Ecology Institute, 405 Corry St. in Yellow Springs, has a host of activities, including a hands-on introduction to its raptor center Sunday at 2 p.m. Other times, simply enjoy the quiet paths and pristine views. Call 937-769-1902.

Eating lunch ...

Once in downtown Yellow Springs, discover shops, an eclectic hippie vibe and delicious pies from Ha Ha Pizza, 108 Xenia Ave. You can choose standard fare or top 'em with falafel and bananas. Call 937-767-2131.

Treating yourself ...

On your way back from Springfield, hit one of the state's best ice-cream shops, Young's Jersey Dairy, 6880 Springfield-Xenia Rd. When you hit Jackson Road, just north of Yellow Springs, look for a giant sign pointing the way to the fresh, frozen treats. Call 937-325-0629.

For photos of the Little Miami Scenic Trail and other outdoor adventures, click to the Venture blog.

Day Tripper: Little Miami Scenic Trail

Route: Springfield to Milford

What I liked: A flat, straight shot between several charming towns

What I didn't: Fallen leaves and black walnuts. It'll take a day or so for the leaves to dry out after a rain.