The Warren Bikeway was completed in 2013 and itl utilizes abandoned rail rights of way, city streets, and underutilized properties in eastern Warren. The project will create more accessibility within the city and may assist in neighborhood revitalization efforts.
The City of Niles four-mile trail was completed in 2012. The trail will originate from Church Street near downtown and follow a rail right of way out of the city, through Weathersfield Township, and end at the county line where the Mill Creek MetroParks Bikeway begins. The trail will also feature a trail head with a shelter pavilion and restroom facilities. As part of the planning for the project, the State of Ohio assisted the city in attaining right of way for sections of an underutilized rail corridor that could serve as a connection between the Niles Greenway and the Warren Bikeway.
Although the existing phases of the Western Reserve Greenway have only been around since 2004, the efforts to develop the trail began in 1989 with a committee of citizens and park experts who saw an opportunity to create a regional trail system. Over time, the committee has formed into the Great-Ohio-Lake-To-River Coalition, which meets quarterly and collaborates to solve problems and share information. Though the process of laying pathway can be relatively quick, along with engineering, design, and even property acquisition, the efforts to attain the funds necessary for such projects can be daunting. Initially, funding for the Trumbull County portion of the Western Reserve Greenway was difficult, as the park district discovered after making its first formal application for funding in 1992. In later years with changing political priorities and in partnership with the Trumbull County Commissioners and the Trumbull County Planning Commission, adequate monies were secured for the development of the Western Reserve Greenway. In 1997 MetroParks entered into a 15-year lease with the Ohio Rail Commission, a subsidiary of the Ohio Department of Transportation, to attain 153 acres of the former Penn Central 714 rail right of way. The corridor, which parallels State Route 45 from about a mile east, stretches from the county line in Bloomfield Township, past Hyde Oakfield Station in Bristol Township, and to Champion Avenue East in Champion Township. The first phase, consisting of a 10-foot-wide asphalt trail which ran approximately 8.3 miles from Champion Avenue East to Hyde Oakfield Road, opened on November 10, 2003. The second phase, which1 was completed the following year, extended the trail approximately 6.3 miles north from Hyde-Oakfield Road to the county line where a link was made to the Ashtabula County Parks Western Reserve Greenway. Phase II officially opened on November 10, 2004. Phase III was offically opened in 2014.
The Western Reserve Greenway has been MetroParks’ most successful project yet. Aside from the sights, the trail is also punctuated with historical locations, an asset which the Trumbull County MetroParks is working to capitalize upon by providing educational signage along the route. Visitors are encouraged to use several modes of non-motorized transportation on the trail, including bicycling, running, in-line skating, cross-country skiing, and walking. Horses are also permitted so long as they ride alongside the trail and not directly on the pavement, a rule set in place for the health and safety of the animals as well as to keep the trails clear of debris. Snowmobiles, while at one time allowed, have since been banned due to the damage the vehicles cause. Members of the Trumbull County MetroParks Bike Patrol volunteer their time to help visitors with any problems or questions they may have while on the trail. Bike Patrol members are recognizable by their light green Bike Patrol shirts and they work to keep the trail safe throughout the year. Additionally, signage for the Western Reserve Greenway is posted at each trailhead as well as each public road which the trail bisects. All intersections with roads are marked and feature warning signed to alert motorists to pedestrians and bicyclists. Benches are also available sporadically along the entire course of the route, including at the trailheads and major intersections, such as State Route 87. Maintaining the multi-million dollar trail and its two trailheads can be daunting and very expensive at times, particularly with springtime and autumn cleanups, pavement patches, mowing, tree clearings, maintenance and repair of amenities, and brush-hogging encroaching branches and plants. All areas of the trail have been subjected to littering and vandalism, including the destruction of benches and portable lavatories. MetroParks has found that keeping certain amenities out of sight from passing motorists tends to help the situation, although every case is different and the correct amount of visibility coupled with police presence could also discourage vandals. Most of the trail features a one-to-three-foot-grassy berm that is mowed for maintenance as well as aesthetic issues. MetroParks maintains a John Deere Gator at its Sunside Trailhead to quickly access the trail and perform the necessary maintenance work along with a leaf blower, mower, chainsaw, and other pertinent equipment. Most of Phase I was brush-hogged in late 2007 to clear away encroaching tree limbs, and similar work is required for much of Phase II. The special process, which was most recently contracted out to the Trumbull County Engineer’s Office, is needed about once every five years. Within the Mosquito Lake Wildlife Area, however, MetroParks is permitted to cut the existing grassland no shorter than 10 inches. Also, the canopy over the trail must remain untouched provided that it is at least 30 feet from the ground and does not pose a hazard to pedestrians of bicyclists. The Trumbull County Planning Commission continues to administer the development, grant writing, and management aspects of Phase III on behalf of the Trumbull County Commissioners and in collaboration with the Park Commissioners. Construction of the trail is anticipated between 2009 and 2010. Additional funding could be required dependent upon the volatile construction materials market. Upon completion, the trail will be donated to the MetroParks and the park district will be responsible for the trail’s ongoing maintenance as well as any future improvements. Additionally, the land leases from the Ohio Rails Commission will expire for Phase I and Phase II in the next few years and new lease agreements will have to be negotiated. Certain funding opportunities to make improvements along the trails may be limited if the remaining lease period is less than 50 years. Phase III, however, will likely be owned as fee-simple real estate, allowing MetroParks greater freedom and flexibility. Another concern is the continuation of the GOLTRG from the Warren Bikeway to the Niles Greenway, a project which could involve MetroParks. No political entity has declared ownership of the project and additional rights of way remain to be acquired. The planned route would follow an abandoned rail right of way, paralleling State Route 169 from the city limits ofWarreninto downtownNiles. MetroParks, the Trumbull County Commissioners, and the Trumbull County Planning Commission will need to investigate the possibility of developing the corridor as a fourth phase of the Western Reserve Greenway. ________________________________________ GEOCACHING: We are very fortunate to have a large number of quality geocaches on the Greenway bike trail and around Mosquito Lake State Park. The lake has some easy to very challenging caches and takes you to trails you may not have known were there. Around the lake approximately 150 quality caches are hidden. The Western Reserve Greenway trail hosts approximately 80 caches in Trumbull County, with another 160 in Ashtabula County and 50 in Mahoning County, on the nicely paved trail. The new North Road Metro Park in Howland Twp, has 16 hidden. Geocaching is a great outdoor family friendly game. Geocaching takes you to places you may never have visited, had it not been for the game. Hiking , biking, historical and geological places, puzzle and earth caches, travel bugs are all part of this fun sport of GEOCACHING! The Game What is geocaching? Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location. How is the game played? At its simplest level, geocaching requires these 8 steps: 1. Register for a free Basic Membership. 2. Visit the "Hide & Seek a Cache" page. 3. Enter your postal code and click "search." 4. Choose any geocache from the list and click on its name. 5. Enter the coordinates of the geocache into your GPS Device. 6. Use your GPS device to assist you in finding the hidden geocache. 7. Sign the logbook and return the geocache to its original location. 8. Share your geocaching stories and photos online. There are many other levels to the game. What is the meaning of the word geocaching? The word Geocaching refers to GEO for geography, and to CACHING, the process of hiding a cache. A cache in computer terms usually refers to information stored in memory to make it faster to retrieve, but the term is also used in hiking/camping as a hiding place for concealing and preserving provisions Go to Geocaching.com to get started Future Development Plans MetroParks has the opportunity to further enhance the existing portion of the Western Reserve Greenway and to refine plans for future phases. Though adequate signage is provided along those roads which cross the greenway, the trail may benefit from additional trailhead directional signage along State Route 45 and State Route 46. MetroParks may also benefit by investing in a battery-powered portable counter system which could determine the number of trail visitors at any given point along the trail. Usage data could be valuable in future grant applications or funding requests for the trail. Small counters could be placed out of sight so as not to attract unwanted attention and could be used at MetroParks other properties throughout the year. Sunside Trailhead TrumbullCounty’s southernmost trailhead, Sunside, offers visitors 34 parking spaces, sheltered picnic tables, benches, and cook-out grills as well as an information kiosk. It is the busiest parking lot in MetroParks’ inventory and is in need of expansion. The present parking lot will likely be extended behind the pavilion, providing 20 new spaces to accommodate present and future demand. MetroParks is also working to procure electricity at the site to provide lighting and to run a vending machine. Other considerations for the site include the creation of a solar station that would serve as an educational exhibit while also offsetting Trumbull County MetroParks’ electricity expenses. Additionally, the park district may consider the installation of a vault-style restroom at the premises away from State Route 305 to ensure privacy and discourage vandalism. MetroParks will also consider installing a drinking fountain and yard hydrant Phase I Improvements MetroParks may wish to install direction signage in Champion Township to encourage citizens to use the Clarence Darrow parking areas to access either Phase I or Phase III of the greenway, which may alleviate concerns regarding parking along Champion Avenue Eastat the trail terminus. Areas of the pavement near the Oakfield trailhead have developed smooth ruts that may require attention in the near future. Otherwise, aside from annual maintenance of the trail, no other major improvements are anticipated for the trail over the next five years. Oakfield Trailhead With a new pavilion, information kiosk, and picnic tables, there is little else needed at the Oakfield trailhead aside from continued maintenance and cleanup services. The 2.3 acre area features a 20-car parking lot located immediately offHyde Oakfield Road, about one mile east from State Route 45. Similar to the Sunside Trailhead, water would be a welcomed amenity at the Oakfield Trailhead. Access to electricity is also readily available should it become desired in the future. Future Considerations Within the next seven years, MetroParks may have the prospect of adding a fourth phase to the Western Reserve Greenway to connect the Niles Greenway with the Warren Bikeway through Weathersfield Township and the City of Niles. The park district is also in need of additional Bike Patrol members, which could be helped with a marketing campaign that includes signage at all trailheads, advertising at MetroParks events, and press releases. In terms of attaining additional funds for the trail, MetroParks may also market the opportunity for interested citizens and corporate organizations to donate a bench, sign, or service. Also, with codification of its rules and guidelines, MetroParks may be in a better position to coordinate with local and county police agencies and attain help in curtailing improper usage of the trail, particularly in the case of ATVs.