The Roads Less (not) Traveled

Jun 11, 2013 View Comments by

Roads Less TravledAnyone following my blogs knows by now that I’ll take a good dirt road over tarmac any time, and I feel that we’ve got some of the best right here in southern Ohio. A lesser known fact is that a fair number of the “roads” still shown on county maps exist in a completely unmaintained state, and are available for dual sport riders to enjoy without fear of trespassing on private land.

These roads are probably the result of small family farms being abandoned, and once the sole purpose for a road’s existence is gone, cash-strapped county road crews simply stop maintaining them. Fairly quickly trees begin to encroach from the sides, erosion ditches form on the hills, and fallen trees create obstacles to detour around. In short, a public trail is formed, which usually connects to gravel roads.

I recently re-visited Stone Quarry Road near Danville, OH on my marginally street-legal Honda XR250R. I’ll do a follow-up blog on the XR in the near future. It’s a fun bike, and perfect for this type of riding. Stone Quarry Road was part of my first RoadRUNNER experience when I guided the Eastern Ohio Off-Road Shamrock Tour® published in April of ’09. I haven’t ridden it for a couple of years, and a visit was long overdue.

The lower end of the road looks like a farmer’s field access, and one must know what it is since there is no sign. A small stream crossing is encountered shortly after the “road” enters the woods at the corner of a field, and a nearly continuous erosion-scarred uphill section begins soon after the stream crossing. Though the hill is not particularly steep, some of the ditches are two or three feet deep at times and are usually littered with various branches, logs, and rocks. Sadly, several discarded tires were added to the collection of natural debris since my last visit. Two detours around fallen trees were also new attractions. The downed trees were probably a casualty of the same storm I experienced on the first day of my recently published “Haunted Ohio” tour.

I hope that these roads continue to exist and perhaps even grow in number as Ohio’s rural areas revert back to their natural state over time. This seems contradictory to the usual pattern of endless urban encroachment on rural areas, but it seems to be happening here in my corner of the universe. If only someone would compile a list or map of these roads so more people could enjoy them. Wait a minute…then they wouldn’t be the roads not travelled anymore. On second thought, maybe things would be best left as-is. Please disregard this blog.

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