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The Ridges and River Valley Nature Trails

Intermediate/Difficult
  5.0 ( 1 ) Favorite

Trail

2.7 mile 4.3 kilometer loop
95% Runnable
Intermediate/Difficult

Elevation

Ascent: 267' 81 m
Descent: -267' -81 m
High: 902' 275 m
Low: 704' 214 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 4% (2°)
Max Grade: 14% (8°)

Dogs

No Dogs
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Trail shared by Rachel B

This trail provides a peaceful run through some of the rolling hills, fields, and forest in Athens, Ohio.

Rachel B

Features Birding · Fall Colors · Spring · Wildflowers · Wildlife

No bicycles allowed.

Overview

This trail traverses old fields and makes its way to what is officially the highest point in Athens, Radar Hill. Both Radar Hill and the path leading up to it have beautiful views of the surrounding mountains and the city of Athens. The varied terrain of the fields and the forest gives the potential to see several varieties of plant and animal life. It also connects to a couple of smaller trails which can be easily incorporated into your run if you would like to extend it.

Need to Know

There are no facilities on the land for runners (there are some university buildings down the road). There are no parking fees or passes required for this lot. No bicycles are allowed on the path.

Runner Notes

The path is mostly gravel until you reach the top of Radar Hill. After that, it is grass until you reach the forest, where it turns to a packed dirt path with roots and rocks (this section can be slippery for a few days after it rains). The end of the trail is gravel.

Description

This trail is a well-maintained path leading up to Radar Hill, officially the highest point in Athens. It then goes down into a small forested valley before making its way back through the trees to the tops of the ridges. A little over half of the trail is exposed to the sun and allows for beautiful views of the surrounding mountains and eventually of Athens itself.

The first part of the trail is made of a mixture of gravel and the crushed pieces of old university buildings which were torn down. There are also some alternate routes you can take on this section of the trail to extend your run by following the paths of cut grass which connect to the trail at two points. When you reach a fork in the gravel path, turn left to run up Radar Hill for a view of the city of Athens.

Once you descend Radar Hill, you'll find yourself on the River Valley Nature Trail / Radar Hill Connector trail, which is a short segment composed of cut grass until you reach the forest. Once you enter the forest you'll be on the River Valley Nature Trail, which is a singletrack packed dirt trail until you get back to the ridges. There are some roots and rocks to navigate around, but nothing really difficult. It is important to note that this section of the trail can be extremely slippery if it has rained a day or two before your run. On this section of the path you'll come across a parking area which is connected to OH-682 (Whites Mill Road) which has some information on this section of the trail and some of its history.

Finally, you'll follow the Ridges / River Valley Nature Trail Connector back to the ridges trail. Here the trail is once more made of gravel and becomes a doubletrack trail. You'll follow this path until you meet up with the fork leading to Radar Hill. Turn left to go back to the parking lot.

As you travel along this trail, don't be surprised to see cameras or other equipment being used to study the wildlife in the area, as this plot of land is a land lab for the students of Ohio University as well as a running path.

Flora & Fauna

Tall grasses, wildflowers, buckeye trees, oaks, walnut trees, and coniferous trees line the path. Some wildlife which are commonly seen are bees, butterflies, dragonflies, squirrels, and birds.

History & Background

The 700 acres of land this trail is on was first owned by the Athens Asylum, where its tenants tended to the fields, orchards, and the cattle that resided there. The land was then bought by Ohio University, and the running path was created by the intermediate class of 1998/99 as a service project. The work of creating the trail was completed almost entirely by the students and took a year and a half of work to complete. The land and trail is still maintained by Ohio University and is used as a land lab by students to study the local flora and fauna.

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Contacts

Land Manager: City of Athens, Ohio

May 28, 2019: Solid Ground School

Mar 22, 2019: Ora Anderson Trail

Jan 9, 2019: Margaret’s Landing Home Stay

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  5.0 from 1 vote

#1

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#1502

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Featured Run Rankings

#1

in Athens

#19

in Ohio

#1,502

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135 Since Jun 21, 2019
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Photos

Rolling hills alongside trail.
Jun 21, 2019 near Athens, OH
The beginning of the trail.
Jun 21, 2019 near Athens, OH
Trail through the forest.
Jun 21, 2019 near Athens, OH
Field alongside trail.
Jun 21, 2019 near Athens, OH
Second half of the Ridges Trail.
Jun 21, 2019 near Athens, OH
Entering the forest.
Jun 21, 2019 near Athens, OH

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