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Follow The Blue Blazes Ohio Buckeye Trail

Reviewing: Ohio University Press Follow The Blue Blazes  |  Rating:
Joan Young By Joan Young on
Badge: Editor | Level: 34 | Travel Gear & Planning Expertise:
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This guide leads you on a tour of some of the best sections to hike on the Buckeye Trail in the state of Ohio.

Of course my first travel guide review would be for a hiking trail! This is a 292 page paperback, written by Robert J. Pond in 2003. Black & White photos. Bob is a friend of mine, and he not only hikes the Buckeye Trail, but is a long-time supporter and also works to build and maintain trail. He knows his subject!

The subtitle is “A Guide to Hiking Ohio’s Buckeye Trail.” The Buckeye Trail is the longest loop trail in the world. It encircles the entire state of Ohio for 1200 miles. The trail includes off-road portions, road walks (back roads wherever possible), and urban pathways. The Buckeye Trail Association is working hard to continually move more of the trail off-road; not an easy task in a well-populated state.

Two other major trails are concurrent with the Buckeye Trail. For 800 of its miles the North Country National Scenic Trail follows the BT along the east, south and western portions. The American Discovery Trail follows it through southern Ohio, on its way from the Pacific to the Atlantic.

First of all, let me say that this is not a guidebook to the entire BT. In that I was a bit disappointed since I am a long-distance hiker. This book focuses on the most interesting segments of the trail. Since most people are day hikers, this is the perfect guide for them. The Buckeye Trail Association publishes excellent annotated maps for those who wish to connect all the dots along the trail. (And they also have an active circuit hiker group that is always working on hiking all the way around the state.)

The foreword is by Steven Newman, a man from Ohio who has walked around the world! (and written his own books about the adventures). The first 14 pages of the book describe the trail in general, and give a bit of history. There is a section for how to plan a hike, and what to take on a day hike to be prepared.

Then there are 11 chapters describing regions of the trail:

Southern Wonderland

The Bluegrass Region

Ohio River Country

Little Miami River Valley

Planes, Trains, Bicycles and Canal Boats

The Great Black Swamp

The Watershed Trail

Connecticut’s Western Reserve: Big Loop to Little Loop

The Upper Cuyahoga River: East Branch of the Little Loop

Lake Country

Hill Country

Within each of these chapters there is an overview of the region, and then true trail guide descriptions of selected hikes in that area. There are maps of the featured areas that would be adequate for hiking those sections. Distance and estimated time are given for each hike, and a difficulty rating. The paper is an off-white non-glossy stock. This is very nice for taking notes while you are using the book along the way. Pencil or pen will write on it well. The book is 5.25 x 8.5 inches. This is larger than pocket size, but fits easily in a pack or tote bag.

The final chapter is about the Buckeye Trail Association, the group that makes this whole trail possible. There is a bit of history and then a tribute to the hundreds of volunteers who work on this trail in all seasons to keep it hikeable, and to improve it.

Appendices give the geologic history of Ohio and a geologic map. There are many rock cuts in Ohio where this can be studied without major difficulty. There is an index to help you locate particular place names.

Bob donates the profits from this book to the BTA, so a purchase benefits not only you, but the trail as well. The book can be obtained from the Buckeye Trail Association, PO Box 254, Worthington, Ohio 43085 (1-800-881-3062). It is also available in many bookstores throughout the state.