Reader Ride - Eastern Ohio

Text: Steve Mauk • Photography: Steve Mauk

Ohio boasts one of the highest numbers of registered motorcycles in the nation, and for good reason. The rolling hills that dominate the southeastern corner of my native state are laced with twisting ribbons of asphalt that offer some of the best motorcycling found anywhere. I have ridden Ohio's roads for over thirty years, yet ample new scenery exists for day trips that serve to fill in the gaps between longer tours. Internet research provided the inspiration for such a trip in the form of one road, Route 536. Located near the eastern border and only around ten miles in length, Route 536 has been called "Ohio's Dragon."

Ohio boasts one of the highest numbers of registered motorcycles in the nation, and for good reason. The rolling hills that dominate the southeastern corner of my native state are laced with twisting ribbons of asphalt that offer some of the best motorcycling found anywhere. I have ridden Ohio's roads for over thirty years, yet ample new scenery exists for day trips that serve to fill in the gaps between longer tours. Internet research provided the inspiration for such a trip in the form of one road, Route 536. Located near the eastern border and only around ten miles in length, Route 536 has been called "Ohio's Dragon." A reference, of course, to the famous paved corkscrew in Tennessee nicknamed "The Dragon." With that high praise, the road sounded like the perfect grain of sand to build a pearl around.

I put my planning to the test one August morning as I fire up the 650 V-Strom and leave my hometown of Zanesville. As I ride into the rising sun, the landscape is bathed in golden light, with lingering mist blanketing the valleys. Experiencing Ohio's best scenery and most challenging tarmac is my goal for the day, and the quest begins in earnest as I leave Chandlersville. Passing through an extensive tract of reclaimed mining land, I note that the topography is more reminiscent of the rolling plains of our western states, than of Ohio. Bisecting this parcel of land, Route 284 is an unusual mix of long, relatively straight sections of road interrupted by groupings of curves. The complacency that settles in on the straighter sections is repeatedly erased by the need to quickly scrub off speed in the corners. This road demands full attention in the curves! One notable area attraction is a wildlife conservation facility known as The Wilds. It is the largest facility of its kind in North America, and features an international collection of endangered species. No dragons, however, so I continue on.

Turning south, the road makes a roller coaster descent through rugged, forested terrain that ends at the Muskingum River. Choosing to relax and enjoy the scenery, I parallel the Muskingum as it winds south. The riverbank is lined with cottages under a canopy of Sycamore trees, and the water's languid surface is occasionally broken by the wake of boats. The river's path soon leads me to Marietta. Founded in 1788, Marietta is home to numerous unique shops and restaurants, as well as the Lafayette Hotel, which opened in 1918 and offers views of both the Ohio and Muskingum Rivers. Showing admirable willpower, I limit my time there to a quick coffee break at Cafénated, located in the heart of historic downtown.

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For the complete touring article, including facts & information, map(s), and GPS files, please purchase the July/August 2010 back issue.