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Miami Valley trails get lots of love from National Geographic

Recreational enthusiasts enjoy the Great Miami Riverway in downtown Dayton.
Recreational enthusiasts enjoy the Great Miami Riverway in downtown Dayton.

Credit: Brent Anslinger

Credit: Brent Anslinger

The magazine praises local agencies for providing people with an escape from home during the pandemic

“An escape route for thousands.”

That’s how National Geographic referred to the Miami Valley Trail Network in an article published Thursday. It’s a story about recreational trails across the country booming with visitors, but the focus of the story is on the largest network of paved trails in the United States centered around Dayton.

A runner exercises during the lunch-hour on the Mad River Trail that runs from the Great Miami River to Eastwood park and is part of the Miami Valley Bike Trails network that includes more than 300 miles of trail to explore.--Staff Photo by Ty Greenlees
A runner exercises during the lunch-hour on the Mad River Trail that runs from the Great Miami River to Eastwood park and is part of the Miami Valley Bike Trails network that includes more than 300 miles of trail to explore.--Staff Photo by Ty Greenlees

In the three weeks following the March stay-at-home order, a 50-mile stretch of trail between an eastern Cincinnati suburb and the town of Xenia saw a 98 percent increase in usage, according to the article.

National Geographic commended the agencies that oversee the trail network, including Five Rivers MetroParks, on how they were able to keep open “one of the only ways residents have to escape the confines of home, while ensuring trails users stay safe and physically distanced.”

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“To have National Geo travel to showcase Dayton as a go-to when they want to do a story about trails is a credit to our reputation as the outdoor adventure capital of the Midwest,” said Brent Anslinger, MetroParks Outdoor Recreation Program manager. “When you look back at the last few months, it has taken everybody doing their part to keep nature open, the trails open and everyone safe.”

The article cited that Miami Valley’s especially wide trails — sometimes 14 feet wide — is especially attractive in a time of pandemic.

Continuing to dote, the article described the Dayton area’s trails in the best light possible.

“Built largely atop abandoned railway lines and riverbanks, the network links more than a dozen post-industrial and rural Midwestern towns, including Dayton, Springfield, and Xenia. This almost entirely flat trail winds through endless fields of corn and spectacular woodlands, revealing a true sense of present-day life in America’s heartland.”

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In a section of the article titled “A new normal”, National Geographic wrote that there are signs that many of the initial kinks of adapting to the pandemic have been straightened out.

“Five Rivers MetroParks says it has opened at least one restroom at most of its facilities; this month, they launched an app with precautionary directions to help prevent the spread of the virus.”

National Geographic concluded the feature by mentioning where the trail passes “Yellow Springs’ funky town center” and gets input from Bob Hartman, president of the Dayton Cycling Club.

“I personally avoided the trails for a few weeks and did most of my riding on rural roads,” said Hartman, who rides between 30 and 60 miles at various times of the week. “It’s great to see so many people discovering the amazing trail system we have in this area.”