Hamilton County’s first mountain bike trail gets an upgrade

Thanks to a $5,000 grant from REI for major improvements on the Great Parks of Hamilton County’s Mitchell Memorial Forest bike trail, the park has improved signage and made restorations.

A total of 8.4 miles across 170 acres in the 1,473-acre park, the trail contains two loops: a 3.9-mile A loop for intermediate riders, and a 4.5-mile B loop for more advanced riders.  

The improvements to the trail, which first opened in 2008, include a new bike fix-it station with a bike pump and tools for quick fixes and everything a rider needs to repair a popped inner-tube; clearer signage and maps throughout the entire trail; habitat restoration; and trail restoration to mitigate erosion and drainage issues.

Great Parks received feedback from first-time users that navigation was difficult. “Improvements [were made] primarily to wayfinding and making it easier for all groups to navigate,” says Sean Creighton, landscape architect for Great Parks. Bikers, trail runners, and hikers regularly visit the trail.

Improved signage clearly marking each loop and maps that show the traveler’s location were placed throughout the trail.

“So far, I have heard no reports of people being confused about their location since the improvements were made,” says Creighton.

“Part of the updates included removing 400 feet of connector trail and reforesting the area.”

These efforts coincide with Great Parks’ goal of scientifically managing at least 80% of its more than 17,000 natural areas.

All of this wouldn’t be possible without Great Parks’ partner Cincinnati Off Road Alliance (CORA), which helps maintain the trail.

“They do a majority of the day-by-day maintenance on the trail,” says Creighton. “They are a huge partner for running the trail on a daily basis.”

Doug McClintock, President of CORA, says, “It was built in a collaborative effort.” He explains that the parks perform the major task such as tree removal and planting, and CORA works on the smaller more day-to-day tasks of removing brush and cutting back erosion. A trail crew meets for weekly maintenance followed, of course, by a recreational ride.

It remains the only trail in Hamilton County to be certified to International Biking Association Standards.

“This,” says McClintock, “has been the blueprint for what we should be doing for all the parks.”

Visit the new and improved trail at 5401 Zion Road in Miami Township.

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Read more articles by Emily Dillingham.

Emily Dillingham is a Cincinnati native and University of Cincinnati graduate with degrees in English and Geology. She writes full-time for a local material science company and lives in Brighton with her husband and pack of dogs. Follow her on Instagram @keeperoftheplants