Thursday, February 1, 2018

Great Miami Trail - Joyce Park to Lodder Park


 

The second installment of our series on the Great Miami River Recreation Trail begins at the southern edge of Hamilton at the Joyce Park trailhead. The discussion of our previous hike from Fairfield's Waterworks Park can be found here.

Segment Two runs northward to Lodder Park near Miami University Hamilton, a one-way distance of two miles. As with the other segments of the GMRRT, the trail is paved, well-maintained, and easily accessible for strollers and wheelchair users.


From the parking area at the end of Joe Nuxhall Way in Joyce Park (past Wake Nation and the skate park), the trailhead is just west of the stop sign. Look for the large blue Hamilton Water display sign; there is also a picnic table, bike rack, and water fountain located here. A portable toilet is usually set up along the edge of the parking lot; seasonal restroom buildings are between the trailhead and skate park.

Southbound view at the edge of Joyce Park
The trail heads northward along the park road past a group of ball fields, then bends left toward the river. Passing through a forested area, the trail opens up briefly before crossing a wooden bridge and re-entering the woods.

Just ahead on the right is the southwest entrance to the Riverside Natural Area. This 150-acre park, formerly a disposal area for the city’s wastewater treatment plant, boasts diverse wildlife habitats and an extensive natural-surface trail system.

Continuing north along the paved path of the GMRRT, you will notice occasional informal trails leading off to the left and down to the river’s edge, frequented by fishermen and other locals looking for a hangout. The river here doesn’t rise very quickly, but the water height can vary dramatically throughout the year – use caution and common sense if you decided to venture off the paved trail.

Don't tell the White Witch!
About a mile from the trailhead, the trail comes into a larger open area – this is the northwest corner of Riverside Natural Area. The trail takes a gentle right-left S-curve to come parallel with a lightly-used service road for the City of Hamilton’s wastewater treatment plant. A sign near the roadway junction points toward a small lagoon (great for observing ducks and herons) and indicates the presence of a beaver dam. A small picnic shelter is ahead on the opposite side of the access road.

The trail leads north between the river on your left and the wastewater plant to your right. Just past the plant, there is a small parking area with a portable toilet and a kiosk for the natural area. This lot is signed as a parking area for the GMRRT and is located at the west end of Fairview Avenue off River Road. The parking area is about a mile and a half from the Joyce Park Trailhead.

Looking north toward the low dam

Keep following the trail onto a broad levee separating the river on your left from a series of flood control ponds on your right. As the trail converges with River Road across from Miami University Hamilton, there is another small parking area near the low dam. This is Kevin Lodder Park and serves as the northern terminus of this hike. Look for monuments commemorating the construction of the dam, the trail, and other civic improvements in the area.

Turn around here for a four mile round trip back to Joyce Park, or ramble on! another two miles northward past the dam and into Downtown Hamilton.


Trail Access:

Joyce Park - 25 Joe Nuxhall Boulevard, Fairfield, Ohio 45014

From I-275, take exit 36 (US 127) and follow Hamilton Avenue (US 127) north. In four miles, turn left onto Symmes Road. After a half-mile, turn right at the light onto River Road. At the next light, turn left onto Joe Nuxhall Way and enter Joyce Park (do not turn onto Joyce Park Drive!). Continue straight ahead for about a mile (past the skate park) for parking and trail access near the baseball fields.


Fairview Avenue Parking – 2451 River Road, Hamilton, Ohio 45015

From I-275, take exit 36 (US 127) and follow Hamilton Avenue (US 127) north. In five miles, turn left onto St. Clair Avenue. At the next light, turn right onto River Road. Continue for about a mile to the next traffic light, then turn left onto Fairview Avenue. The small parking area is ahead on your left.


Kevin Lodder Park / Low Dam - Neilan Boulevard, Hamilton, Ohio 45015

From I-275, take exit 36 (US 127) and follow Hamilton Avenue (US 127) north. In five miles, turn left onto St. Clair Avenue. At the next light, turn right onto River Road. Continue for about one and a half miles. When you see Miami University Hamilton to your right, the small parking area for the dam will be on the left.

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