Drove to southeastern Ohio to run on the Moonville rail trail this weekend.
The information about the trail was a little sketchy but I knew where it started, where the Moonville tunnel, King Switch tunnel, and the end was. The start was in the small town of Zaleski, named after a Russian investor in the railroad line that in the 1850s was part of the Marietta and Cincinnati railroad company. That company later was bought by the Baltimore and Ohio railroad and later owned by CSX who would be responsible for tearing out all the track and trestle bridges going over numerous sections of the Raccoon river (4) and Hewett Fork (6).
The trail was minimally maintained with the surface mainly being rock and dirt but wide enough to be considered double track for most of it. The vegetation was 6 to 8 inches high most of the time and lighter on the rocky areas. It was a comfy 91° when I took off around 2 pm. It was mostly overcast so I didn't notice the open areas on the way out. I crossed a couple small bridges that I read were made by putting box cars across but didn't think to look under the bridges. I made it to Hope Moonville Rd which immediately did a 180 so I crossed it again a short time later. This is where the trail changed drastically. It was completely overgrown and there was barely a single track to follow though you could always distinguish the raised rail bed. I got to the first bridge that was out and made my way across as it was only a few inches deep. The hard part was dropping down about 60 ft from the rail bed and climbing up the other side in briers and thick vegetation. A short time later I came to the river again and decided I had enough. I was close to 45 minutes so I turned around and made my way back. My path from the river was not as good on the way back and the brier scratches made a puzzle of my legs. I felt pretty good until I got to 75 minutes when I started getting a little dehydrated. I figured I could finish in 1:27 (which I did) so I only had another 12 minutes. Now that the sun was out I really noticed the mile or so that was open. I got some tree cover the last few minutes back to my car where I had some ice cold red pop waiting. The car thermometer said it was 96°. Since I didn't make it to the Moonville tunnel, I drove to the trail head and walked the short distance. The trail association is in the process of putting a bridge across that section of the trail and was almost finished. You could still walk down and cross the river over rocks without getting wet since the river was so low. Once I got through the tunnel, I climbed up and over on a single track trail. There was a trail on top that ran along the ridge but I didn't follow it. With another 9 bridges to install, I doubt the trail will be usable in its entirety for quite a few years if ever. With nearby Lake Hope state park having miles of mountain bike trails and Zaleski State forest a 28 mile backpack trail, it will be really hard to get the funding needed
After driving into Parkersburg WV Saturday evening so I could watch the Mens Olympic 10k, I drove back to the other side of the Moonville trail in Mineral, Ohio. My legs were pretty creaky the first few minutes and I shortly came upon a motorcycle and large tent on the trail. Just after them was a creek crossing. I had worn my "trail" shoes the day before and was in my "nice" pair of shoes so I took a couple minutes to scout a trail and see if there was a dry way across. There wasn't so I plowed through the water and made my way to the King Switch tunnel. While the Moonville tunnel was made of brick, the King Switch tunnel was made of railroad tie like wood. It was also a little longer. Here are some before and now pics. https://bridgehunter.com/oh/athens/kings-hollow-tunnel/
After going through the tunnel, I crossed the King's Hollow road and the trail became pretty dense again. I got to another water crossing making my way down the hill, across and back up the other side. I ran a little farther and did the same again. Finally when I got to another crossing, I gave up and decided to turn around. I had only been out a little over 19 minutes. I made my way back the way I came glissading down the steep banks and scrambling up the other side. I plowed through the water of the first crossing beside the tent and motorcycle and could see them inside still sleeping as I ran by. It was past 10 am so they were probably up all night partying. When I got back to my car I only had 34 minutes in and the trail went the other way even though the map said it ended where I parked. This section was the clearest I had been on and went almost a mile back to a small lake that even had a sandy beach 30 ft long. At that point, the trail was overgrown so I turned around and finished my run in 49:30. I didn't have cell service where I was so I headed to Nelsonville and got there just in time to see the results of the women's marathon.