Rustic

Road Trip

Skip the highways and head into the back country of southern Ohio and West Virginia to experience a secluded, beautiful and sometimes mysterious part of the country.

Story & Photos by Matt Bayman

Although often overlooked, those of us living in Miami County are only a short drive from an entirely different region of the country - Appalachia.

Appalachia is a place where small towns have retained their eclectic charm, where state parks are abundant and beautiful, where ma and pa restaurants and shops can be found in the most unusual places, and where local folklore speaks of strange things happening in the not-so-distant past.

It's also a place where industry has been in decline for decades. The skeletons of long-closed factories and the crumbling infrastructure that once supported them dot the landscape like gravestones, as do vacant homes and other depressed properties. Visiting the region then, is a mix of beauty, intrigue and insight.   

The following loop trip is designed to lead travelers through the heart of Appalachia. It is 455 miles roundtrip and does not use any interstate highways. Instead, it follows a series of uncluttered back roads that lead through rural landscapes, national forests and dozens of small towns and villages in Ohio and along the Ohio River in West Virginia.

With plenty of places to eat and sleep along the way, this trip can be extended for several days or longer. There are campgrounds and state parks, cabins in the woods and hotels in all price ranges. Just bring your smartphone to find the best option, and pack as if anything could happen!

While this trip has specific destinations in mind, it is meant to be something that travelers can interpret for themselves.

Photographers, for instance, will enjoy the countless opportunities this trip provides, and they may want to stray beyond the path to capture that perfect image. Hikers may want to plan an overnight backcountry hike at places like Zelenski State Forest or in Wayne National Forest. Those interested in the paranormal will want to research Point Pleasant, W.Va. before leaving home. The list goes on. 

Some other interesting stops on this trip include, but are not limited to:

  • Climbing the tower at Serpent Mound at sunrise or at dusk

  • Exploring abandoned dynamite bunkers while searching for the Mothman in Point Pleasant, W.Va.

  • Scaling the largest rope course in the world in Hocking Hills 

  • Getting your picture taken in front of a water tower that looks like a pumpkin

  • Touring the Snowville Creamery to see "Milk the Way it Used to Be" (e-mail ahead HERE)

  • Staying in a haunted room at the Lowe Hotel

  • Hiking the abandoned railroad tracks of Jackson, Ohio

  • Exploring the long-forgotten history and relics of Ohio's iron mining history

  • Finding the yellow springs (they're actually more orange in color) at John Bryan State Park in Yellow Springs

  • Hiking the amazing Rim Trail at Conkles Hollow State Nature Preserve

  • Cycling the Ohio River on bike paths in West Virginia

  • Seeing several of the largest locks and dams of the Ohio River

  • Shopping for antiques in the country and in small towns alike

and on and on...

There are also some great, one-of-a-kind restaurants to enjoy, as well as countless historical markers, lakes, rivers, bridges, buildings, courthouses and more.

To the right are the directions for this road trip. The Points of Interest that are underlined are linked, which may help those who'd like to plan their trip or learn more. Others may enjoy traveling the loop without any destination in mind and seeing where the road leads. Rest assured that whichever way you decide to travel, this is a unique trip that you won't soon forget.  

Kids get a kick out of the Mothman Statue in downtown Point Pleasant, W. Va. (Click HERE to read our Mothman Travel Article and to learn more about the Mothman Festival that takes place each September) 

Yellow Springs (pictured here), Circleville, Oak Hill, London and Urbana are a few of the small towns you'll pass through during this trip.

A Camero is parked in front of an abandoned school in West Virginia. 

The view from the Rim Trail at Conkles Hollow in early spring. There really is no bad time of year to hike this 2.5 mile trail. Just be careful! There are deadly cliffs around every corner and caution is advised for those with small children. Good advice with kids is to always keep them to your right - or away from the edge.

DIRECTIONS & POINTS OF INTEREST

Total Mileage = 455 miles

 

Directions are in black, with the mileage for each leg of the trip in red. Points of Interest are places that can be visited during that particular leg of the trip. The underlined Points of Interest are linked for more information. The map above is a rough look at the complete route. 

Starting Point: Troy

- Take Rt. 41 east to US 68 in Springfield (24 miles)

- In Springfield, take U.S. 68 south toward Wilmington by way of Yellow Springs (10 miles)

Points of Interest

- Young's Dairy

- Downtown Yellow Springs 

- John Bryan State Park

- Little Miami State Forest Preserve

- In Wilmington, take Rt. 73 south and continue through Hillsboro until you reach Serpent Mound, which is is located on Rt. 73 near Peebles (40 miles)

Points of Interest

- Downtown New Vienna

- Fallsville Wildlife Area 

- Collett Woods Nature Reserve

- Serpent Mound

- After exiting Serpent Mound, continue south on Rt. 73 to nearby Rt. 32. Take Rt. 32 east toward Jackson

(56 miles)

 

Points of Interest

- Scioto River

- Lake White State Park

- When you reach Jackson on Rt. 32 east, take St. Rt. 93 south until you reach Ironton and the Ohio River. This will pass directly through Wayne National Forest 

(44 miles)

 

Points of Interest

- Downtown Oak Hill (Amish Community)

- Telegraph ATV Trailhead

- Abandoned Iron Furnace

- Lake Vesuvius Recreation Area 

- Historic Mt. Olive Charcoal Iron Furnace 

- Lake Vesuvius Backcountry Trails

- Historic State Route 75 Tunnel

- Oakley Clark Memorial Bridge

- Downtown Ironton

- After exploring Ironton, take U.S. 52 east toward Huntington W.Va. and cross the Ohio River into West Virginia (19 miles)

 

Points of Interest

- South Point, Ohio

- Southern Most Point of Ohio

- See 3 States at Once on Ohio River

- Immediately after crossing the Ohio River on U.S. 52, take U.S. 60 east through the City of Huntington, then merge onto Rt. 2 (Ohio River Road) north to Point Pleasant, W.Va. (42 miles)

 

Points of Interest

- Hillbilly Hot Dogs & Chapel

- Green Acres Regional Center

- River's Edge Scenic Campground

- Gallipolis Lock & Dam 

- Robert C Byrd Locks & Dam

- Shady Waters Campground

- Village of Gallipolis Ferry

in POINT PLEASANT

- The Legend of Mothman

- Tu-Endie-Wei State Park

- Mothman Museum

- Old Dynamite Factory

- Haunted Lowe Hotel

- Mothman Statue

- Point Pleasant Biking & Hiking Trail on the Ohio River

- Murals

- After Point Pleasant, continue north on Rt. 2 until you reach U.S. 33 near Ravenswood, W.Va. (28 miles)

 

Point of Interest

- Keraland Recreational Area

- From Rt. 2, take U.S. 33 north back into Ohio until you get to Meigs (20 miles)

Point of Interest

- Kountry Resort Campground

- From US. 33 in Meigs take Rt. 124 south for a few miles before taking Route 143 north until it dead-ends into U.S. 50 (26 miles)

Point of Interest

- Snowville Creamery 

- Take U.S. 50 west to McArthur (15 miles)

Points of Interest

- Lake Hope State Park

- Zalenski State Forest Trails

- In McArthur, take Route 93 north to Route 56 east, arriving at Ash Cave in Hocking HIlls State Park

(15 miles)

Points of Interest

- Hocking Hills State Park

- Ash Cave

- Conkles Hollow 

- Old Man's Cave 

- Rock House 

- Cedar Falls

- Cantwell Cliffs

- R Adventure Park

- Rose Lake

 

- After visiting the Hocking Hills area, take Rt. 56 west to Route 29 west into Urbana (88 miles)

Points of Interest

- Historic Circleville

- Circleville Water Tower

- Deer Creek State Park

- Downtown London

- Champaign Berry Farm 

- Historic Urbana

- Cedar Bog

- Finish the trip by taking Route 55 or U.S. 36 back into Miami County (27 miles)

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