Hamilton’s Beltline bike/hike trail already getting strong use

By this time next year, Phase 2 should be finished.

Phase 1 of Hamilton’s Beltline biking/hiking path only recently opened, but it’s already getting fairly heavy use from people who are bicycling, walking, jogging and just getting outdoors with their dogs.

As Joseph Wegman, 25, and his girlfriend, Bella Herron, 21, walked the path with their silver Labrador retriever, Murphy, they expressed delight with the new asphalt path.

“I was literally talking about it the whole way here, because I grew up down the street, and I remember this being train tracks,” Wegman said. He said he remembered the “sketchy bridges” along the former rail spur that was used by the former Champion Paper mill to transport materials to and from the mill.

One of those “sketchy bridges” has been replaced with a beautiful new 120-foot-long, 10-foot-wide span that overlooks a small waterfall in Two Mile Creek.

“I was mind-blown,” Wegman said. “I was like, ‘No way!’

Herron’s favorite part of the trail was the bridge overlooking a small waterfall.

“So many memories on this trail, but this is really well-done,” said Wegman, who now lives in Cincinnati, and was showing Herron, also of Cincinnati, the area where he grew up. “It’s well-paved. That bridge is really nice. A really pretty view.”

Herron said her favorite thing about the trail was “the bridge, and the waterfall.”

The train tracks and bridges “were fun to play on as a kid, but not the safest,” Wegman said.

More to come

The first segment is about a half mile long, between Cleveland Avenue, next to Jim Grimm Park, and Eaton Avenue, near the Flub’s Dariette ice cream shop.

Next year, Phase 2 should be finished, said Allen Messer, senior civil engineer for the city.

“That should be done by next Memorial Day,” Messer said.

Phase 2 will link Cleveland Avenue eastward with North B Street near the under-construction Spooky Nook Sports Champion Mill indoor sports complex. It will run through the most beautiful part of the Beltline’s route, where people will feel like they’re out in the middle of a forest, except for train horns in the distance.

When that segment is finished, the trail will be about a block and a bridge away from the popular Great Miami River Bikeway. The city also has won money to extend the bikeway from there southward along the river to Main Street. City staff members also are looking for grants to extend the trail westward to the under-construction intersection of Main Street/Cereal Avenue/Haldimand Avenue/Western Avenue, which already has a sidewalk pointing toward what will be the Beltline there.

“It seems to be very well-received,” Messer said. “Every time I’m there, I see people on it.”

“I’m very pleased,” Messer said, “pleased with the contractor (Brumbaugh Construction). They did a very good job.”

Only one man, who declined to give his name, expressed disappointment with the bicycle path. He has a mountain bike, with knobby tires, and said he enjoys riding on unimproved parts of the path. It’s not as enjoyable for him to ride that bike on pavement, he said.

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