The Buckeye Trail: Exploring the Longest Trail in Ohio

Read on to learn more about The Buckeye Trail – Ohio’s longest trail!

About the Buckeye Trail

What is the Buckeye Trail and how long is the Buckeye Trail? 

The Buckeye Trail is a 1,444-mile trail that circumnavigates Ohio. The trail is on both wooded trail and road, however, the Buckeye Trail Association is working hard to redirect road sections into wooded areas for a better trail experience. The trail also hosts two other long-distance national trails – the North Country National Scenic Trail, from New York to North Dakota; and the coast-to-coast American Discovery Trail.

Buckeye Trail near Vaughn Road in Cuyahoga Valley National Park

The trail covers some of the most scenic locations in Ohio, including Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Hocking Hills. My experience with this trail comes from the parts of the 37 miles that traverse through Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Looking for more information on visiting Cuyahoga Valley National Park? Check out my guide here!

How to Navigate the Buckeye Trail

The Buckeye Trail is marked by a series of two-inch by six-inch blue blazes. These blazes mark where to follow the trail. A single blaze denotes where the trail is straightforward and double blazes mark where the trail turns. The upper blaze will be turned to mark the trail’s new direction. If the upper blaze isn’t turned, it means the trail may not be obvious in this section. 

If you’re looking for a map of the trail, the Buckeye Trail Association has many options available on their website. There are paper maps as well as an app option and geospatial PDF files. Many of the day hike sections of the trail are available on the AllTrails app. 

Map from The Buckeye Trail Association Website

The trail is divided into sixteen distinct sections. For a list of all of the sections and how to access them, click here. The sections I’ve completed were located in the Akron and Bedford sections as those sections pass through Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Brecksville Reservation. Make sure to check out the Buckeye Trail Association’s website before hiking any of the sections to get the latest trail alerts and information. 

Don't forget to bring your ten essentials for hiking with you when hiking on the Buckeye!

How to Hike the Buckeye Trail

Where does the Buckeye Trail start?

The great part of a giant loop trail is that you can start anywhere there is a trailhead. I really enjoyed the shorter sections I did that passed through Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Hickley Reservation, and Brecksville Reservation. I’d recommend a quick search on AllTrails to find a section near you. There are MANY options!

How long does it take to hike the Buckeye Trail?

This can vary greatly depending on what you’re doing. For a section hike, check out more information on the specific section or route you’re attempting. For a thru-hike of all 1,444 miles, you’d need months. Everett Brandt, an Ohio resident and avid hiker, completed a through-hike of the trail in 55 days and 6 hours, which is currently the Fastest Known Time (FKT) for the trail. 

Can you bike the Buckeye Trail?

You cannot bike all 1,444 miles of the trail. Bikes are not allowed on many of the footpaths. However, if you want to experience a similar route on a bike, Bikepacking.com has put together a 662 mile route that runs from Cincinnati to Cleveland. They state this route takes about eight days to complete. If you’re interested in biking the route, check it out here!

My Buckeye Trail Experiences

As part of the Full on CVNP 2 challenge, I completed multiple different sections of the trail. Read more to find a route that works for you!

Buckeye North 

This trail covers a 5.5-mile loop with 524 feet of elevation gain. This was the first trail I attempted on the challenge and it was hard for a beginner hiker. I did this one in January after a snowfall had melted and it was incredibly muddy. This trail alone could give CVNP its Subpar Parks review – “Very very very muddy. A lot of mud”. When I went, the snowmelt had created some giant puddles that were covered with sheets of ice that cracked and dropped me into about three inches of freezing water when I stepped on them.

However, this trail got me hooked on the challenge – I loved the challenge of navigating the terrain in less than stellar conditions. However, I’d recommend this trail when it’s covered in snow or in better weather. Note that only the first half of this trail is on Buckeye and the second half is on the Valley Bridle Trail.

Evidence of Buckeye Trail being “Very very muddy”

Buckeye South 

This out and back hike covers 5.4 miles with an elevation gain of 488 feet. I did this on a snowy weekday in January and it was lovely. It was steep in parts with single track trail and challenging footing. It was a pretty empty trail, which could have been because it was a winter weekday but I could see it being crowded on a nice day in peak season.

A beautiful snowy day on the Buckeye Trail

Columbia Run

This 5.7-mile section of the trail includes the scenic Blue Hen Falls and a TON of elevation gain. It was super challenging but an amazing section of trail. For more information about the waterfall and my experience on this section of the trail, check out my guide to Blue Hen Falls Trail. 

Trail Maintenance

The trail is maintained by the Buckeye Trail Association, a non-profit volunteer organization. This group coordinates volunteers to supervise and maintain sections of the trail. If you’re interested in getting involved with them, check out their immediate volunteer needs. You can also become a member of the association, which has special member events and benefits! The organization uses member dues to improve the trail. 

Looking for more trails in Cuyahoga Valley National Park? Check out these ones!
- Wetmore Trail
- Ledges Trail
- Beaver Marsh Trail
- Hunt's Farm Trail

Have you hiked the trail before? What was your favorite section? Let me know in the comments below!

Updated May 3, 2024

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