Jay and Linda De Nise enjoy an autumn ride in Amish country west of LaRue.

Searching for Eagles and Ice Cream

By Dan Sheridan

Originally Published in Marion Star June 7, 2009


One Sunday afternoon several years ago, Lucy Lehner and I bicycled to Killdeer Plains wildlife area in search of bald eagles. As we scanned the wildlife area with our binoculars, an eagle silently approached from behind and glided low over our heads. I shouted in surprise, but the eagle continued to circle over us for a few minutes before moving away.

As Lucy and I discovered that day, an interesting destination can add to the fun of a bicycle ride. Destinations can be as diverse as ice cream shops, playgrounds, restaurants, shops, bakeries, wildlife areas, historical areas, recreational trails, parks, and swimming pools. Cyclists often choose an upwind destination, hoping for a nice tailwind on the return trip.

There are many wonderful recreational trails within easy driving distance of Marion, and in a future column I’ll describe some of my favorites. Closer to home, the Marion Tallgrass Trail, Marion County’s future recreational trail, will soon be a choice for those who enjoy nature. The trail will pass a beautiful pond in its first mile, and then offer views of abundant wildlife in the Big Island Wildlife area. This trail will be built in stages as grants and donations become available.

Terradise Nature Preserve, a Marion county park near Caledonia, offers a shelter house, short hiking trails, geocaching, and a chance to relax by the Olentangy River. The park is on Marion-Williamsport Rd, off St. Rt. 746. Riders can continue on to Caledonia, for a snack in the dairy bar.

Marion cyclists often ride to the “twin bridges”, a set of two beautiful bridges on Cardington Road, just south of Whetstone River Road. A few miles to the south, the Delaware Wildlife area has several quiet roads that offer great bicycling.

An experienced cyclist can ride from Marion to Delaware State Park, approaching the park from the west on Troutman Road. This requires riding a short stretch on the shoulder of US Rt. 23, but the distance is brief enough that riders can wait for a break in the traffic. Cyclists can purchase a snack at the camp store or the marina.

The village of Prospect is a popular cycling destination, with several organized bicycle tours stopping in the village each year. Many cyclists from Columbus park their cars near Bellepoint and follow the quiet roads along the east side of the Scioto River to Prospect. Once in the village, cyclists take a break at the grocery store, ice cream shop, or Prospect Park.

Waldo is a favorite objective for riders from Marion, who enjoy stopping for a snack at the stores or the dairy bar. The Waldo pool can be a great place for a swim break on a hot summer ride.

New Bloomington, Green Camp and Richwood also offer dairy bars, and the shelter house in Richwood’s beautiful park is a great place to take a break and refill water bottles. A new bicycle tour, Scoops 4 Stephanie (
http://scoops4stephanie.com/) will visit dairy bars in Waldo, Prospect, Green Camp, and Richwood on August 22.

Cardington is accessible via quiet farm roads, and is a favorite destination for Saturday morning bike club breakfast rides. Riders who arrive later in the day often visit the dairy bar, or buy a snack in the convenience store.

On the third Saturday of the month the Claridon United Methodist church offers a community breakfast from 7 to 10 am. Bike club members often ride to the church for breakfast, and then head out for additional miles to work off the calories.

Cyclists enjoy riding past Amish farms on quiet roads west of LaRue. A few miles northwest of LaRue, the Pfeiffer Station General Store (on Hardin County Rd. 144) offers sandwiches, ice cream, and candy. A gently rolling river road just across the Scioto River from the store leads west to an Amish farm where visitors can purchase baked goods.

Coon’s Candy (off Rt. 23, just north of Little Sandusky) is a fun destination for a ride. Leaving the candy store, cyclists descend Township Highway 124 into a beautiful river valley. Turning east on County Highway 62 for a few miles, riders come to the Swartz Covered Bridge, which crosses the Sandusky River on County Road 130.

Now that I’ve shared a few of my favorite cycling destinations, I’d enjoy suggestions for other great places to ride.

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Jay and Linda De Nise enjoy an autumn ride in Amish country west of LaRue. (Photo courtesy of Dan Sheridan)