The Wayne National Forest is a patchwork of public lands covering over a quarter million acres of rolling Appalachian foothills in southeastern Ohio. Central Hardwoods, primarily oak and hickory, are predominate in this area, intermixed with pine and hemlock. The Covered Bridge Scenic Byway on State Route 26 runs through part of the Forest, along a route that follows the Little Muskingum River. This scenic drive showcases historic barns, century old covered bridges, several of which are on the Forest.
A variety of recreation opportunities are currently available on the Forest, but the REI Co-op MasterCard/NFF partnership will help launch Phase 1 of the Baileys Trail System, an ambitious project to transform the area into a popular mountain biking hub. When complete, this 88-mile system to be a premier mountain biking destination that will spur revitalization in this economically distressed area. The goal is to become a designated International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA) Ride Center.
12 million people live within 100 miles of the area, and it is estimated that the Baileys Trail System will attract nearly 200,000 visitors annually. This will provide Athens County and the surrounding cities and villages the ability to diversify their economy through enhanced outdoor recreation and tourism opportunities.
The trail project has garnered support from local governments and businesses, Ohio University, health organizations, and user groups. A stakeholders working group, along with the Wayne National Forest, hired some of the industry’s top trail designers to develop a sustainable, world-class trail system optimized for mountain bikers, but also attractive to hikers, trail runners, and other non-motorized, human-powered trail users.
In Phase 1, in partnership with local community groups and volunteers, we will build 14 miles of beginner to advanced level trails, beginning at a trailhead in Chauncey Village Park. These trails will be constructed to meet course standards for the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA), providing an opportunity for local schools to develop mountain biking leagues.