Last week I was in Columbus, OH for business, so I decided to bring along my running shoes and see what I could discover – as many of us know, running in a new city is probably the best way to see it. Since I was staying in a downtown hotel, it made sense to see if there was a path along the river, which bisects the central area. On Google Maps, the Scioto Greenway appeared promising, with bridges here and there to cross over and return on the other side. If you’re anything like me, you’ll take a loop over an out and back any day. I mapped out a 3 miler, because I’m still horribly out of shape, MAF training, and it was supposed to be warm and humid.
Just my luck the Scioto Greenways project has just begun, tearing up the better part of the most scenic section of trail – a dam used to slow the water down, creating stagnant areas and appearing less than optimally beautiful. The project removed the dam, narrows the river bed, and creates new opportunities for additional trail miles, a definite bonus to the folks who use the trail. Skirting the construction area, I got on the path and headed along the river. Only a small section of the trail has river views, which was disappointing, and hopefully they’ll trim the vegetation to make it more scenic.
Returning on the other side wasn’t much more scenic, with the same overgrown trees and brush blocking river views. Along the downtown section, the hardscape is quite beautiful, but the rest has a slightly desolate feel. So, while it wasn’t all beautiful, it’s still a nice place for a run if you’re in the downtown area. While the improvements will certainly make a difference, this all-pavement path could use a parallel path that is wood chips or gravel, for a softer feel and to separate the runners from the cyclists (though I only saw 1 bike rider and no other runners, I would think that weekends are busier). This trail does connect to other trails, including a longer one that goes out to the University, so these obviously are beneficial for commuters.
It sounds like I’m being harsh, which is unfortunate, because these should be great trails – running along a body of water in a city center is a true pleasure. Here the views are obstructed, so much of the run does not benefit from the proximity of the river. Hopefully the Scioto Greenways Project, which has a few years left to go, will make this a dynamite place to run, rather than just adequate.