Best of Columbus 2009

Best Bike Trail

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From the Best Bike Trail edition

Olentangy Trail

Web: centralohiogreenways.com

In the future, the Central Ohio Greenways trail system will include a handful of distinct multi-use swaths across Franklin County, providing access to picturesque corridors and giving residents more travel options throughout the region.

Much of the network exists only in theory, but the poster child for its benefits is the Olentangy Trail.

Running alongside the Olentangy River from Downtown to Worthington, the path has become a favorite route to Antrim Lake, an Ohio State University wildlife preserve, a necklace of city parks, quaint North Side neighborhoods and retail districts along High Street.

"[The Olentangy] is the most used greenway trail, probably because it's such a destination corridor," Erin Miller, a Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission spokesperson, told me in June. "That trail paved the way for the rest of the Greenway trails."

Currently, the only hang-up is a stretch under construction near Ohio State University. Elsewhere, it's smooth sailing for the tens of thousands of bike commuters, walkers, cross-country skiers, Rollerbladers and picnickers who flock there each year.

As local officials and activists push for alternative transportation and greener living, the Olentangy Trail provides a template for how to connect natural resources, a city and its people. Its popularity is proof that finishing the Greenways is a good idea now and for the future.

Runners up: Alum Creek Trail, Antrim Lake

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