Connecting Little and Great Miami bike trail excites local cyclists

Plans are underway to connect the Little and Great Miami Bike trial to Mason.

The Great Miami River Trail already runs from Miami township to Washington township, but a new, multi-state initiative aims at completing and extending the network to Cincinnati. Eventually it is scheduled to connect with the Little Miami Scenic Trail in Warren County. The project is being conducted by Tri-State Trails and will also be connecting Warren and Butler counties.

The project, which was proposed in 2001, has yet to begin. Recently, the Mason City Council met to discuss supporting and funding the project since the extension of the trail would move it closer to home.

Senior Austin Woodruff, who trains in competitive cycling, said that a trail’s long terrain, such as those of the Little and Great Miami, is important for cyclists.

“If I’m not on trail, the best places in Mason to ride are difficult for me to access, just because there are a lot of areas in Mason where you don’t have sidewalk access outside of a neighborhood,” Woodruff said. “A runner can take a side walk, other athletes can use fields, but because when you’re cycling and you’re travelling at great distances the terrain in which you are riding can change greatly within just one or two miles that the accessibility of the area can completely diminish you. Having that long path is amazing because it allows you to have such versatility in how you cycle.”            

Such an extension appeals not only to bikers and athletes, but to health advocates and economic development officials. The extension of the trail into Mason will also expand fitness and exercise opportunities, said Woodruff.

“(The trail extension) would drastically change the way people in Mason see cycling as a physical activity or interest,” Woodruff said. “For many people who are just starting up with cycling or biking, or just want to do it for fun, it can be really difficult to bring themselves to drive that large a distance just to ride. But by bringing the trail into Mason, that would offer a really great opportunity for people to begin getting interested in cycling.”

Preceding the Tri-State Trails project, is an extension of the Little Miami Scenic Trail through the Village of Newtown and Anderson Township in Hamilton County. The project will add 3.15 miles to an existing 78 mile trail, already one of the longest paved trails in the United States.

Studies in 2008 and 2011 assessing the impact of the Little Miami Trail on single family residential properties also found retail price to go up by over seven dollars for every foot closer to the trail. According to Kimberly Whitton, the Marketing Communication Coordinator for Great Parks of Hamilton County, the extension project aims to accentuate the many benefits the trail provides.

“This trail offers enhanced transportation and recreation opportunities for multiple communities in the Cincinnati region,” Whitton said. “Besides being great places to walk, run or bike, studies are showing that multi-use trails and other greenways improve air quality, health, reduce crime, improve property values, spur tourism revenue, prompt economic growth, increase worker productivity and job satisfaction. A trail can even boost community pride and appeal.”

After receiving $1 million from Ohio’s capital budget for the project and $1.94 million in federal funding, the Great Parks of Hamilton County began construction on the Little Miami trail mid 2015 and is looking forward to completion in spring.

Whitton said that the extension project aims to supplement resources and connect the communities through which the trail passes.

“The project will enhance the existing trail system serving Hamilton County and improve the transportation and recreational opportunities for area communities,” Whitton said. “The continuation of the trail is a significant milestone for the Cincinnati tri-state region as we continue to connect communities together through amazing trail systems.”

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