Another Six Miles of Wabash Cannonball Trail Paved
The Wabash Cannonball Trail – the region’s longest all-purpose trail – just got 6 miles longer.
Metroparks Toledo worked with the property owner, the Northwestern Ohio Rails-to-Trails Association, to extend the paved section of the North Fork from Fulton-Lucas Road, just outside of Oak Openings Preserve, to St. Rt. 109 near the village of Delta.
Metroparks received funding through the Transportation Alternatives Program and managed the construction project, awarding a $2.2 million paving contract to Expercon, LLC of Toledo. The TAP funding paid for 95 percent of the cost. State TAP funds are for recreational trails and other non-automotive transportation and accessibility infrastructure.
“This extension picks up where the paved trail left off, providing additional trail miles for Metroparks walkers, runners and cyclists,” said Joe Fausnaugh, Metroparks chief of operations. “It is our long experience that trails are the No. 1 reason people come to the Metroparks, and our parks have never been busier. Additional trail miles matter to tens of thousands of people in our region who use them for recreation, exercise and to explore nature.”
The North Fork is a 46-mile trail, which is currently paved for 15 miles from North Jerome Road in Maumee west to Route 109. It continues to Montpelier, Ohio, mostly unpaved, with another paved stretch east of Wauseon.
The North Fork and a connector trail link Side Cut, Fallen Timbers Battlefield, Cannonball Prairie and Oak Openings Preserve Metroparks.
The trail also has a South Fork that stretches 17 miles from Maumee to Liberty Center, with the first 10 miles paved.
The first mile of the new trail extension will be dedicated in honor of Tom Duvendack, former manager of Oak Openings Preserve, who died last year. Tom was one of the leaders who advocated for the Wabash Cannonball, and remained involved with NORTA after his retirement from Metroparks.
“Tom and Marianne Duvendack knew they could not secure this property as a trail by themselves,” said Ed Snyder, president and founding member of NORTA. “So they helped facilitate public meetings around northwest Ohio to inform people of this wonderful opportunity; to build collaboration.”
Friends of the Wabash Cannonball Trail was formed to work towards a goal of preserving and one day developing the trail property, Snder said. NORTA was later formed to acquire the land in 1994, and has worked to develop the trail since.
One of Ohio’s longest rails-to-trails conversions, stretching 66 miles through four counties, the Wabash Cannonball is a former Norfolk Southern Railroad corridor abandoned in 1990 after 100 years of use.
The Trail is owned by several partners within the four counties, with the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments acting as coordinating partner for the project. Owners are: Lucas County, the City of Maumee, NORTA, Metroparks Toledo, the City of Wauseon and the village of Whitehouse.
“The opportunity to our area’s longest regional trail doesn’t come along every day,” Fausnaugh said. “When these opportunities present themselves, it takes cooperation among agencies and communities to take them from concept to reality, and the community beneficiary. In this case, we were pleased to work with NORTA again, not only to extend the trail, but to extend our longstanding partnership.”
Portions of the Wabash Cannonball Trail are also certified segments of the National Park Services’ North Country National Scenic Trail, a 4,600 mile long hiking trail stretching over eight states from North Dakota to Vermont.