5 Great Riding Roads in Ohio

5 Great Riding Roads in Ohio

Do you live in or near Ohio—or are planning a two-wheel visit to the state—and are looking for some routes to stretch your mount’s legs? Here are five awesome roads that get the wanderlust simmering and let you experience the state’s magnificent scenery.

Three Rivers Ride

This jewel in Coshocton County is local riders’ favorite, offering a smorgasbord of twists and turns that route through beautiful, tree-lined landscapes. Three Rivers Ride passes through enough villages, towns, and landmarks to stretch the 105-mile ride into a leisurely, all-day affair.

Using historic Roscoe Village as a start/end point, there are two distinct loops that make up the Three Rivers Ride. The character of the roads range from sweeping curves and open stretches to slightly more challenging sections.

The first of the two loops takes riders through West Lafayette, Baltic, and New Bedford. Basing back through Roscoe, the second loop passes through Warsaw, Walhonding, Newcastle, and West Bedford.

Situated in the foothills of the Appalachians are verdant forests and outcroppings of rock cut by glaciers long before man arrived. The route takes you through quaint backwoods townships and tranquil valleys and through farmland in Amish country where aged old barns are kept anew for postcard-like scenery. You may even find yourself sharing the road with Amish horses and buggies.

In addition to the picturesque Roscoe Village, where you will find a choice of eateries, other landmarks include Clary Gardens, the covered bridge at Helmick, the dry land Gospel Hill Lighthouse, and the traditional stop point at Pearl Valley Cheese chalet. The region is also home to Three Rivers Wine Trail that takes you past the region’s wineries.

Triple Nickel

Laying claim to being Ohio’s Tail of the Dragon, the Triple Nickel feels custom-tailored to motorcyclists. Approximately 159 miles of twisting road through forests and open farmland, the route has a number of points of interest to explore off the bike as well.

Basing in the city of Zanesville on I-70, the Triple Nickel route loops south over choice winding roads that meander through numerous small enclaves. This route is an easy day trip and allows plenty of time to make stops at various attractions.

For starters, there’s the beautifully restored Lorena sternwheeler moored at Zane’s Landing in Zanesville. This authentic paddle-wheel steamboat is available for sightseeing excursions and twilight cruises.

Also in Zanesville is the John and Annie Glenn Museum, where you can see the boyhood bedroom of the first American astronaut to orbit the Earth in 1962. The museum features artifacts and exhibits from Glenn’s historic mission, including a model of the Friendship 7, the capsule Glenn piloted. Also on display is Glenn’s space suit, and other memorabilia. Allow an hour and a half for the full tour, which includes a 20-minute award-winning movie of Glenn’s famous space travel.

Nearby is Harper Cabin, the birthplace of William Rainey Harper, who founded the University of Chicago in 1891. Located on the National Road, visit the renovated S Bridge, and, close by,  the National Road & Zane Grey Museum.

State Route 26

Not far from the Triple Nickel is this reasonable 136-mile (rough trip) outing, which conveniently sticks to SR 26, making it oh-so-easy to not get lost and allow you to freely take in the sweeping turns.

Starting in Wayne Township in the north, SR 26 weaves southwest to Marietta, passing through Jerusalem, Center Township, Graysville, and Dart. Try charting a different route back to your start point on the many small roads, or simply turn around and go back the way you came.

Personally, I love to take roads in both directions, as it provides a sense of familiarity but with a completely different character.

SR 26 between these two points allows you to enjoy Ohio’s stunning beauty. Given the dense Wayne National Forest, fall is a great time to visit as the leaves are turning—although be mindful of slippery foliage on the road.

The route will also take you past several covered bridges—their numbers are in decline, so enjoy. Pavement quality is reported to be well-maintained and locals report sparse traffic, which is always good to hear when traversing on two-wheels.  

Lazy Rivers

Proving itself a motorcycle-friendly state, the Athens County Convention and Visitors Bureau of Ohio created the Windy 9, a series of nine routes designed specifically for motorcycle riding. Carefully mapped out to take riders through Ohio’s beautiful landscapes, sprawling farmland, and charming townships, Lazy Rivers is one of the nine and is perfect if you want to sample Ohio’s offerings of pavement and scenery.

The Lazy River takes its name from the route, which traces the Hocking River to its confluence with the Ohio River. Over its approximate 101 miles, you’ll see the impressive Ohio River dams, as well as the amazing engineering of the locks, possibly even in action with good timing.

The route loops out east from Athens and takes you through Pomeroy, a rider-friendly town that claims to have the best views of the Ohio River. A host of small towns line the route making it ideal for stopping, shopping, eating and relaxing—Stewart, Reedsville, Portland, Racine, and the aforementioned Pomeroy.

The ride is easy cruising, with limited challenges and free of tight curves, making it perfect for heavy cruisers laden with baggage and riding two-up.

Attractions along the route include Buffington Island Battlefield State Memorial Park and Forked Run State Park. An interesting side trip is Jorma Kaukonen’s Fur Peace Ranch and Psylodelic Gallery in Pomeroy, which is a center for art and culture. With a name like that it’s worth checking out.

If wine tasting is your thing (please be responsible) there’s Shade Winery in the township of Shade.  

Black Diamond Run

Another one of the rides that make up the Windy 9 in Ohio is the Black Diamond Run. Looping north out of Athens in a lazy figure eight to Somerset, the run provides an easy, laidback roundtrip ride of 103 miles, meandering through some of Ohio’s wonderfully scenic landscapes.

The route is populated by turn-of-the-century mining towns, which stand as living examples of Hocking Valley’s coal heritage. The route skirts Wayne National Forest, with dense expanses of trees providing sections of canopy and dramatic views.

Nelsonville is the major stop on the ride, an opportunity to stretch and experience the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway. For lovers of the outdoors there’s the Rocky Outdoor Gear Store.

The Black Diamond Run figure-eights in Straitsville, where there’s Robinson Cave, which is the birthplace of the United Mine Workers. Did I mention coal figures prominently in local history here?