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Buckeye Trail Towns

The Buckeye Trail touches all four corners of Ohio and covers 1,444 miles. Here are four great trail towns along its route. 

The Buckeye Trail touches all four corners of Ohio and covers 1,444 miles. Few of us can tackle it all like Andy Niekamp did as he became the trail’s first solo thru-hiker. So, we asked the Dayton resident for his insight on towns along the way that can serve as stopping points as well as where to camp when you get there. 

1. Defiance, Defiance County: In 1794, Gen. Anthony Wayne built Fort Defiance at the confluence of the Maumee and Auglaize rivers, where the city named after it stands today. “There’s a lot to do where those two rivers come together,” says Niekamp. “There is the historic library [funded by Andrew Carnegie] and a nearby monument to Johnny Appleseed in Pontiac Park.” After passing two old Miami & Erie Canal locks, hikers can find a night’s rest at Independence Dam State Park. parks.ohiodnr.gov/independencedam

2. Peninsula, Summit County: The Buckeye Trail leads hikers into the tiny town of Peninsula, also a frequent stop for Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail travelers and Cuyahoga Valley National Park visitors. “There’s a Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad depot there, and the railroad takes you up and down the valley,” says Niekamp. Overnight travelers can find five primitive campsites ($25 per night) behind the 1806 Stanford House a couple miles north of downtown Peninsula. forcvnp.org/camping

3. Shawnee, Perry County: In the southern portion of Perry County sits Shawnee, a village frozen in time. “It’s a modern-day ghost town, [with] old storefronts that haven’t changed in 100 years,” Niekamp says. Nestled in an area dubbed the Little Cities of Black Diamonds, Shawnee was once the epicenter of the region’s vibrant coal mining industry. Travelers won’t find a campground, but the availability of dispersed camping in the nearby Wayne National Forest provides plenty of space to set up a tent.fs.usda.gov/wayne

4. Milford, Clermont County: Founded in 1796, this town is located at the intersection of eight long-distance trails that stretch more than 22,000 miles throughout the country. “A good stop for information and gear is Roads Rivers and Trails,” says Niekamp. The independent outfitter provides both equipment and outdoor expertise. If you’re looking for a place to set up camp, Jim Terrell Park offers overnight permits for $5 and is located within walking distance of downtown. milfordohio.org

Andy Niekamp is the author of Captain Blue on the Blue Blazes: The Fist Solo Thru-Hike of Ohio’s 1,444 Mile Buckeye Trail. To learn more about his book, visit buckeyetrailhiker.com. To plan your travels on the Buckeye Trail, visit buckeyetrail.org.

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