Sunday, January 17, 2016

South Milford Trail

4 mile out-and-back – varied surface trail – all ages

This week’s hike departs from the delightful trail town of Milford, Ohio. Located on US 50 east of Cincinnati, this small town on the Little Miami River boasts the convergence of seven long-distance trails, along which the intrepid hiker can reach all corners of the state of Ohio and both coasts of the North American continent. With this diversity of paths from which to choose, the Rambler will be featuring many hikes in and around Milford; this week, we’re headed south.

What I’m dubbing the South Milford Trail is in truth the westernmost end of the Buckeye Trail’s Williamsburg section, which extends east from Milford for just over fifty miles to Mt. Orab in Brown County. This section of the Buckeye Trail also hosts the North Country National Scenic Trail and the coast-to-coast American Discovery Trail, although neither is specifically signed along the route.

The trail begins at the Milford Trailhead, departing eastward across the Little Miami River and following the blue blazes through downtown. From Main Street turn right (uphill) on Elm Street, right on High Street, then left to head southeast along Garfield Avenue. Upon reaching the intersection of Garfield, Mill, and Laurel, turn right on Laurel Street, then right on Oak Street and left on Cleveland Avenue. The Buckeye Trail is well-blazed along the sidewalks in town, but stay alert for frequent turns.

Proceeding southward on Cleveland Avenue—stay on the left (east) side of the street—take note of the multiple examples of well-maintained residential architecture; for those with an eye for detail, this neighborhood provides an enjoyable opportunity for admiration. When the sidewalk along Cleveland Avenue ends, cross the street to a wide paved shoulder (mile 1). Take care in re-crossing the road just ahead to enter Valley View Preserve; there is no crosswalk or warning signage in place on the road.

The Valley View Preserve comprises 150 acres along the East Fork of the Little Miami River and is managed by a non-profit board for environmental stewardship and education. The property is freely open to the public during daylight hours. While there are no improved amenities such as restrooms, the preserve boasts a five-mile network of unpaved trails, a community garden, seasonal activities, and multiple historic sites. Visit for additional information.

The trail into the Valley View Preserve descends a steep hill that will be muddy in wet weather – be careful not to slip. The trails in the preserve are not appropriate for strollers and are not handicap accessible. At the bottom of the hill, the blazed trail turns to the right. When you reach the historic barns, stay to the left of the buildings and look for an unpaved drive that continues ahead through the trees. Blazes are sparse along this section of the trail, but the path is not too difficult to follow.

Upon exiting the woods, follow the edge of the fields around to the community garden, then bear left between the garden and the treeline. Follow the fence line to a gateway and adjacent kiosk about the preserve. Pass through the fence and continue ahead alongside the elementary school drive out to South Milford Road. The trail turns left here and follows the shoulder of the road; you can choose to walk along the wide paved shoulder or in the grass adjacent to the roadway.

The trail continues across the East Fork of the Little Miami River on the shoulder of the road bridge. I advise, however, that you make this the end of your hike and return to Milford. Despite the fact that the Buckeye Trail continues to the east along Round Bottom Road (there is a left-turn blaze on the utility pole at the far side of the bridge), there is no trail to walk along. The only way to proceed eastward is to walk in the roadway, an especially hazardous proposition given the poor visibility along Round Bottom Road and the nearby railroad crossing.

The distance from the Milford Trailhead to the East Fork Bridge is two miles; return to town via the reverse route for a total trip of four miles.

Barn at Valley View Preserve

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