Since my husband and I travelled to NEO in separate vehicles, he agreed to give me a ride down the Zoar Valley Trail. This meant I could just run back to my vehicle, parked in the Fort Laurens parking lot.
Dennis dropped me off where the “trail” should be. The last time I was down this way, it was an old abandoned rail bed:
Now it looks more like a road, which some active construction activity going on.
Oh well, I knew the road would lead me to the Dover Dam, as I had run an out-n-back from Camp Tuscozoar exactly one year ago .
I wonder who is in charge of the Zoar Valley Trail, as there are no marks at all on the trail on the east side of the Tuscarawas River. I knew where I was going, because of previous recon trips, but I believe a person could not really make much sense out of this guide.
Okay, apparently the Camp Tuscazoar Foundation is in charge of the Zoar Valley Trail. Perhaps I will give them a hand with a new map or assist with marking the trail. I wasn’t sure if I should actually be on this “road” but as it was Sunday, there was no working going on.
The Dover Dam is still under its 101 Million Dollar Rehabilitation Project.
As you leave the dam, there is this old jeep trail (its the ZVT) but you would have no way to know this! No blazes, no nothing.
But this is all very runnable. Very very flat.
The Zoarville Station Fink Truss Bridge. The last to exist in the country.
The Zoarville Station Bridge is a rare survivor of the earliest period of iron bridge construction in the United States, an era when unprecedented railroad expansion gave American bridge builders an international reputation for innovation. German immigrant Albert Fink first developed this truss design for the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad in the early 1850s.
Because it is the last of its type, features unique engineering, uses Phoenix columns in its structure, and is ancient with an 1868 construction date, this is a bridge that is rivaled by few in terms of importance.
The bridge features the highly unusual Fink truss configuration. These endposts are vertical and utilize a modified Phoenix Column. Phoenix columns are also used for the top chord and vertical members. Phoenix columns were a special patented type of built-up member. Very few examples of them remain today.
As I stopped to take pics, I realized how hot I was! Goodness, I don’t expect eighty degrees and humidity in October! Of course, running right next to a river doesn’t help with the mugginess either.
Right after the Zink Truss Bridge, you continue forward and you see State Route 800 in front of you.
You have to know to turn left, run about 1/4 of a mile, crossing over the Tuscarawas River, cross to the north side of Rt 800, and look for the little road (which is the ZVT) there.
This is actually where signage begins!
This is also where blazes on trees begin. Although this looks white, the blazes are blue. The Buckeye Trail joins the ZVT on the west side of the Tuscarawas River for a six mile stretch.
I am glad someone thoughtfully posted a sign about alligators in the Tusc River. I had almost forgot about the “alligator in the Tusc River incident from 2009”
The alligator, estimated to be about 4 feet long, was seen earlier in the day sunning itself on a log in the river but went into hiding before the sheriff arrived at about 1 p.m. Wilson said he saw photographs that were taken by Newcomerstown Police Chief Tim Miller, who apparently was aware of the reptile Monday.
The sheriff’s department was notified about the reptile by a Newcomerstown area resident late Wednesday afternoon. Wilson said a deputy was sent at that time but was unable to locate it.
And this is where, apparently the official “end” or beginning of the Towpath Trail, The Ohio & Eric Canal Towpath.
The signage for the Towpath Trail is much improved also. I do not recall seeing any of the brown signs on my earlier recons
of the area.
And yes, there was a mile 83 marker.
Besides myself, there were five other people on the trail on this warm fall day. I didn’t expect to really see people on the western side of the Tusc River, but I thought more people would take advantage of a nice sunny day and get outside.
The Towpath Trail down here in Tuscarawas County is nothing like the Towpath Trail that one finds in Northern Ohio. The Trail up north is at least eight or ten feet wide. The trail here is about three feet wide. Two or three people could run or walk abreast, but that is all.
It is also not a smooth trail at all, compared to the Northern sections.
This is the huge bridge that was built across Interstate 77. I believe you could drive a tank across this bridge. Or several tanks, all at once.
The Buckeye Trail splits off here, following the equestrian trail, and I took the pedestrian path into Fort Laurens. Note the good Towpath Trail Signage.
It does seem like there are future improvements
planned for the Towpath Trail, to extend it further south:
Working with the Tuscarawas County Canal Lands Committee the Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition was awarded a “Clean Ohio” grant from the Ohio Public Works Commission to purchase 71 acres of land to extend the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail to Route 800 near Zoarville.
This property will allow for the completion of an additional section of the 101-mile Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail running from Cleveland to New Philadelphia, connecting cities and villages in Tuscarawas County to cities and villages in Stark, Summit and Cuyahoga Counties.
I think one of my winter runs should be to figure out the southern half of the Zoar Valley Trail. It appears that the rest of the trail is all on road. I think a good winter project would be to really improve on the ZVT map!!