After 10 years of residence in the Buckeye State, I introduced myself to a few of the hills and curves in and around the Hocking Hills region of Ohio. Here's what I found...
Some of you may have had a change to ride in the region, but if you haven't heard of it, the Hocking Hills region lies in South Central Ohio, bounded by Lancaster, Athens, Jackson, and Chillicothe to the North, East, South and West, respectively. State Route (SR) 56 meanders east/west through the middle of the area while US50 and US33 run through the Southern and Northern reaches of the region. North/south routes include SR374, SR664, SR93, SR328, SR278, SR356, SR691.
If you're with the dirty bike crowd, I suspect that you'll find sufficient entertainment for a day or weekend. While gassing in South Bloomingville today, 3 KTM's emerged from County Road 249, asked one of the locals for directions, and pinged their way East down SR56. I gotta admit, I was a little jealous.
Of the roads listed above, I sampled SR56, SR374, SR664, and SR278. SR56 from Circleville to South Bloomingville wasn't all that inspiring. From there to the intersection with SR278, SR56 begins to shine. Well marked, recently maintained, and not too technically demanding invites a spirited pace. And I hear that it gets better from there to Athens. CanÔÇÖt wait to try it out.
SR664 is a well-maintained bit of road that leads the Tourists to Old Man's cave. (A scenic bit of Ohio that is interesting enough to be worth one trip, but no more than that.) The section I rode runs from northeast/southwest between Logan and South Bloomingville. Good shoulders with a bit of extra asphalt to keep the gravel where it belongs. The southern most bit from the intersection with 374 to South Bloomingville is probably the best part. Keep an eye out for the Tourists when approaching the Old ManÔÇÖs Cave area, as they have to walk across SR664 from/to the parking lots.
3 miles North of South Bloomingville, SR374 intersects SR664 and meanders North to US33 near Rockbridge. SR374 from SR664 to SR180 is pretty good. Twisty and Hilly, two good adjectives that go great together. Again some paving at the shoulder, but this disappears on the northern section of SR374 from SR180 to US33. No shoulders at all which encourages the cages to drag gravel onto almost every corner. The next trip won't include this piece of SR374.
SR278 between SR56 and Nelsonville was the best part of the day. The same attributes that make SR56 so enticing work their magic here as well.
Well, thatÔÇÖs about all I saw today. Sometime before the weather turns to total c**p IÔÇÖll have to go back and scout out a few more ÔÇ£opportunities to excelÔÇØ. I promise to let you know what I find.
Oh, any suggestions from those who have run in this area before?