Within the next several weeks the community of Shawnee will notice a lot of activity taking place at Tecumseh Lake.

Andrew Bashaw, executive director for the Buckeye Trail Association informed members of village council last week the Wayne National Forest has approved the rerouting of the Buckeye Trail/North Country National Scenic Trail (BT/NCT) in southern Perry County.

The project will reroute six segments of the BT/NCT and construct two community trails in the Wayne National Forest. They will run to the west and south of the Village of Shawnee through the Tecumseh Lake picnic area, and to the north and east of the Village of New Straitsville. According to Bashaw the trail will be rerouted to include the Upstream Rock Run watershed reclamation area. Almost two miles of trail will be decommissioned where existing trails are difficult to maintain and currently receive heavy unauthorized off-highway vehicle use.

“This project blends community input and partnership with the Buckeye Trail Association to increase safety by rerouting hiking trails off of roads, placing the trail in sustainable locations, and discouraging unauthorized motorized use,” said Athens District Ranger Jason Reed.

Once constructed, the trails will provide a unique hiking destination in the heart of the Wayne National Forest for the community in and around the historic Village of Shawnee and for visitors along Ohio’s 1,400+ mile state Buckeye Trail, the 4,600 mile North Country National Scenic Trail, and the American Discovery Trail.

“This is fantastic news,” stated John Winnenberg, longtime Shawnee business owner and director of Sunday Creek Associates. “I believe that Shawnee can become a destination for hikers as the Buckeye Trail and it amenities are upgraded in and around Shawnee. The benefits of having the headquarters for the Buckeye Trail in Shawnee are many, as this development demonstrates.”

The project

• Three miles of trail with varying degrees of difficulty to serve community health and wellness goals;

• More miles of the BT/NCT located off of public roadways and in safe and scenic locations;

• Relocate the BT/NCT through the Lower and Upstream Rock Run watershed restoration areas, thus providing unique regional experiences and the opportunity to interpret efforts to restore watersheds impacted by past land use;

• Create opportunities along the trail network to assist in the BTA’s campaign to make the BT/NCT more friendly for backpacking and thru-hikers;

• Continue to reduce motorized traffic on this hiking trail through improved trail design and location;

• Increase volunteer opportunities for trail improvements on the WNF.

“With a new loop trail around Tecumseh Lake, connection to the historic Village of Shawnee, and the network of loop trails in the Stone Church Hollow area, the Buckeye Trail, North Country National Scenic Trail and American Discovery Trail are creating a backbone of one of Ohio’s largest multi-day hiking experiences that we hope local people will be able to leverage into ecotourism based entrepreneurism,” said Bashaw.

In concluding Bashaw said, “I am happy to be working with the Wayne National Forest to upgrade and create a destination trail worth hiking and backpacking.

BTA history

The Buckeye Trail Association (BTA) has been the leader in building, maintaining, protecting and promoting Ohio’s State Trail since 1959. Though the entire route is marked with blue blazes, the Buckeye Trail continues to change and improve. The BTA continues to look for ways to relocate the BT off of roads, construct the BT as a primitive hiking trail and upgrade those off-road sections to high quality trail.

But the Buckeye Trail Association is more than just a management organization. It is also a social group. Hundreds of events are planned each year, both formally by the BTA, and by individual members and 5 regional BTA Chapters. Most of these events are open to the public. Visit the Buckeye Trail Association for more information on events and how to get involved.

The North Country Trail coincides with the Buckeye Trail for over 800 miles. The American Discovery Trail also coincides with it through southern Ohio.

The Trail passes through many of the most scenic locations in the state, such as the Hocking Hills region. It also goes through many small towns in Ohio, making this trail both an outdoor and history experience.

Construction on the new loop trail around Tecumseh Lake is expected to begin within the next few weeks through grant funding obtained by the Buckeye Trail Association. The Wayne National Forest is partnering with the American Conservation Experience to provide an AmeriCorps trail crew for eight weeks, starting in June, to reroute sections of the BT/NCT in the Shawnee area. Additionally, the Buckeye Trail Association is partnering with the Hocking-Athens-Perry Community Action Program (HAPCAP) and the Perry County Jobs and Family Services (PCJ&FS) to provide an additional youth crew for eight weeks this summer to complete project work.

Further information about the project with maps can be seen on the Wayne National Forest website at http://www.fs.usda.gov/projects/wayne/landmanagement/projects .

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