City Escape: Athens, Ohio

Text: Heather Oliver • Photography: Chris Myers

This City Escape features a loop from the Athens County Visitors Center’s “Ohio’s Windy 9” map. The Pioneer Pass offers rolling hills and leads through Wayne National Forest, Stroud’s Run State Park, and Gifford State Forest. As if that weren’t enough, a taste of the famous Triple Nickle (Route 555) is thrown in for some fun, challenging twists!

Length

Approximately 105 Miles

Meet-up Spot

The Front Room Coffeehouse, 1 Park Place, Athens, OH.

Lunch Stop

Boathouse BBQ offers delicious food and views of the Ohio River. Find it at 218 Virginia St, Marietta, OH. 

Scenery (4 out of 5)

This route takes you through hilly, agricultural countryside that provides plenty of panoramic views.

Traffic (4 out of 5)

Traffic is usually light, though you may happen upon an Amish buggy or two along the way.

Difficulty (3.5 out of 5)

Southeastern Ohio features some interesting roads which seem to have been laid across the landscape without much engineering. This route has some challenging sections, especially on Route 555.

Road Conditions (4 out of 5)

Overall, roads in this area and along this loop are generally well maintained, however, you will likely come across some loose gravel in spots. Watch for deer.

Points of Interest

  1. The Lafayette Hotel: Rich in history, this hotel was first built as the Bellevue Hotel in 1892. Destroyed by fire in 1916, the hotel was resurrected in 1918 and renamed the Lafayette Hotel, after French hero, Marquis de Lafayette, of the American Revolution. Artifacts are displayed throughout the hotel, reflecting its interesting history.
www.lafayettehotel.com 
  2. Valley Gem Sternwheeler: Take a break from the bike and enjoy a boat cruise along the Ohio or Muskingum Rivers. From narrated sightseeing tours, murder mystery dinner cruises, to ballroom dance cruises, and many in between, the Valley Gem Sternwheeler has something for everyone. 
www.valleygemsternwheeler.com
  3. Chesterhill Produce Auction: Serving customers spanning the Appalachian Ohio region and West Virginia, this produce auction provides fresh produce at wholesale prices to businesses and the general public. Hours: May–October, Mon. & Thurs. 4 p.m. 
www.ohiofoodshed.com/chesterhill