1 of 5: Buckeye Trail "Little Loop" - Exploring Over 250 Miles of Northeast Ohio

Blog Date
Stuart O. Smith, Jr.

Buckeye Trail "Little Loop"
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The Buckeye Trail "Little Loop" is the over-250-mile part of the Buckeye Trail in Northeast Ohio that goes through the following counties: Lake, Cuyahoga, Summit, Stark, Portage, and Geauga. On Tuesday, November 10, 2020, at the northern terminus of the Buckeye Trail at Headlands Dunes State Nature Preserve, I completed the loop which I had begun on Sunday, November 4, 2018.

I want to start this blog post by thanking the Buckeye Trail Association (@HikeTheBT), and in particular, the volunteers of their Crooked River Chapter (@CrookedRiverBTA), for making the "Little Loop" section of the trail a reality for me to enjoy!

Buckeye Trail Crooked River Chapter

The Crooked River Chapter of the Buckeye Trail Association is the chapter for those who live near or along the Akron, Bedford, Burton, and Mogadore sections. These sections comprise the majority of the "Little Loop". Hikers who complete the "Little Loop" are eligible for a patch! The CRC’s extent includes the Cuyahoga, Lake, Geauga, Summit, Ashtabula, Trumbull, Portage and Stark Counties (Stark County is shared with the Muskingum Lakes Chapter). Use the following to connect with the Crooked River members:

Crooked River Chapter Facebook Page
Crooked River Meetup

I highly recommend signing up to get Crooked River Chapter Meetup notices. I learned about many of the events I attended in Northeast Ohio about the Buckeye Trail via their MeetUp Group. Also see the Crooked River Chapter YouTube Channel and the BuckeyeTrailTV YouTube Channel for informative videos.

I had a rough start traveling this path around northeast Ohio. I badly sprained my ankle that first Sunday in November 2018, and was told by my doctor that a few months' rest would increase my chances of preventing future ankle problems while hiking. I was glad when the ankle was healed, and I was able to return to hike the next section exactly three months later on Monday, February 4, 2019.

I originally started purposely hiking sections around the Buckeye Trail "Little Loop" (sometimes with a weighted pack) to prepare for extended backpacking trips. In 2018/2019, I was preparing for my 2019 two-month backpacking adventure on the Pacific Crest Trail, and for hiking another section of the Appalachian Trail. In December 2019/January 2020, getting ready for backpacking trips on the Continental Divide Trail and Appalachian Trail in 2020. My plan was to slowly complete, by hiking and biking, all the sections of the Buckeye Trail "Little Loop" over several years.

With the onset of the March 2020 COVID-19 crisis, the Continental Divide Trail Coalition and Appalachian Trail Conservancy requested that all out-of-state, long-distance backpackers cancel their trips, my plans radically changed. I decided now to continue where I left off, and to hike/bike the sections of the Buckeye Trail "Little Loop" to completion at the north terminus on Lake Erie in 2020.

I used my bike on a lot of the "Little Loop," so I want to send a shout-out to Ohio City Bicycle Co-op (@OhioCityCycles) for helping me fix my bike so that it was safe. I had been riding for a long time without good brakes and tires -- always fun.

This Buckeye Trail "Little Loop" blog post actually consists of five separate blog posts. First, this post includes information and resources (see below) about the Buckeye Trail that were shared at events I attended about the trail:

The other four posts are about each of the four sections of the "Little Loop." Here are links to the blog posts, along with a list of the counties and some of the parks that are part of each section:

Buckeye Trail "Little Loop" Map
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I hope you enjoy these blog posts, and that they encourage you to explore some or all of the Buckeye Trail! What follows are resources for hiking/biking this long-distance trail that encircles the state of Ohio.



November 8 & 12, 2018 - Attended Buckeye Trail Thru-Hike Presentations

“Thru-Hiking the Buckeye Trail: Things That Will Change the Way You See Ohio” with Andy “Captain Blue” Niekamp
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In November 2018, I attended talks at the Lakewood Public Library and Chardon Public Library about thru-hiking the Buckeye Trail. The presenters shared information from their hikes, which they wrote about in the following books:

You can find more books about the trail on the Buckeye Trail Association online store at: Shop.BuckeyeTrail.org

Here are tweets with photos from Thursday, November 8, 2018, Lakewood Public Library - “Thru-Hiking the Buckeye Trail: Things That Will Change the Way You See Ohio” with Andy “Captain Blue” Niekamp:


Additional reply tweets after the presentation:

Here are tweets with photos from Monday, November 12, 2018, Chardon Public Library - "Discover the BTA - A Buckeye Trail thru hike Presentation"with Chuck and Beth Hewett:



November 15, 2018 - Met with Everett Brandt Who Set Buckeye Trail Thru-Hike Speed Record in 2018

Everett Brandt
Everett is a musician and outdoor lover who took 8 weeks during the summer of 2018 to hike all day every day on Ohio’s 1444 mile Buckeye Trail.

At the end of the thru-hike talk at Lakewood Public Library, I met Everett Brandt, who had just set a thru-hike speed record of the Buckeye Trail in 2018. He was so kind to invite me to his home to learn about his hike/run of the trail, and about the gear he used. He has a wealth of knowledge about the trail!!

We "talked trail" for several hours about the Buckeye Trail and other trails. I wrote in my notes that he hiked 31 miles a day on average (not including zero days), finishing the entire Buckeye Trail in 55 days, 6 hours, and 12 minutes, with 7 zero days. Be sure to take a look at his online map (you may need to "clear filters" on the map to see his entire trek) at: share.garmin.com/everettbrandt

While preparing this blog post, I found his "FKT: Everett Brandt - Buckeye Trail (OH) - 2018-08-06" listing on the Fastest Known Time (@FastestKnown) website at: FastestKnownTime.com/fkt/Everett-Brandt-Buckeye-Trail-OH-2018-08-06

"I started at the northern end of the Akron Section and headed south toward Marietta. I did the 145mi "Wilderness Loop" clockwise, then got shuttled from the Whipple/Stockport junction back to the Belle Valley/Road Fork junction to complete the loop in a southerly direction. I continued clockwise towards Cincinnati then got shuttled from the Williamsburg/Loveland junction in Milford to the trail's southern terminus in Eden Park overlooking the Ohio River to start the Loveland Section heading north. Once back in Cleveland I finished the 250mi "Little Loop" clockwise to finish at the Massilon/Akron junction." - Everett Brandt


Here are two Ideastream (@ideastream) videos where you can learn more about Everett Brandt's journey:

Video: 1,400 Miles on The Buckeye Trail

You might not of heard of the Buckeye Trail but you’ve probably been on it even without knowing.
Ideastream caught up with Everett Brandt halfway through his attempt to hike all 1400 miles.


Video: The Finish Line: The End of A 1400 Mile Journey On The Buckeye Trail

What is the longest you've ever walked. Everett Brandt set out on 6/12/18 from the Brecksville Reservation on a quest to hike all 1440 miles of the Buckeye Trail in one very long walk. After 8 weeks on the trail he sprinted across the finish line.



Buckeye Trail Maps, Apps & Guides

Buckeye Trail Maps
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The Buckeye Trail Association offers both electronic and printed maps & guides.

When I met with Everett Brandt at his home on November 15, 2018, he showed me the Buckeye Trail Association paper maps, and the Garmin inReach Explorer (Satellite Communicator with Maps and Sensors) he used to track his hike. I subsequently used a Garmin inReach Mini when backpacking in 2019 on both the Pacific Crest Trail over-600-mile desert section and part of the Appalachian Trail.

I have downloaded Everett Brandt's hike tracking points from share.garmin.com/everettbrandt (see photo below), and used the points marking the Buckeye Trail with the FREE Garmin Earthmate® smartphone app (the navigation app is included with the purchase of an inReach® satellite communicator).

Everett Brandt's Buckeye Trail 2018 Track -- https://share.garmin.com/everettbrandt
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Everett Brandt also told me that the Buckeye Trail Association has been developing a trail guidebook. As I was writing this blog post, I learned that the first edition (2019) of the Buckeye Trail Data Book is now available! The book was written by Chuck and Beth Hewett, who are the speakers I heard at the Chardon Public Library on November 12, 2018.

Buckeye Trail Data Book (First Edition, 2019)
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On February 10, 2019, Julie (my wife and co-blogger) and I attended a talk by the Crooked River Chapter of the Buckeye Trail Association (@HikeTheBT - @CrookedRiverBTA) about the "Little Loop"  -- more details in the next section. At the talk, we learned that in the coming year, both Buckeye Trail Avenza Maps and Buckeye Trail Guthook App would be created. The organizer of the talk even arranged for us to download for free the Avenza Map of the Mogadore Section of the Buckeye Trail (normally $6.99) for us to try out during the hike that he led after the talk.

Avenza App Map - Mogadore Section, Buckeye Trail
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I have been using the Guthook App (@GuthookGuides) for many years on the Appalachian Trail, and in 2019 on the Pacific Crest Trail. While sending an email to the creators of the Guthook App about a suggested update for their app based on my experience backpacking a section of the Appalachian Trail in 2019, I learned that they not only had the Buckeye Trail maps on their app, but that they were offering all of their electronic maps at a special discount price on Small Business Saturday. 

Buckeye Trail Guthook App
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On November 30, 2019, I received 30% off with the Small Business Saturday discount on both the Continental Divide Trail maps and Buckeye Trail maps for the Guthook app. In 2020, I expected to hike some of the Buckeye Trail to get ready for the Continental Divide Trail, but now with the coronavirus crisis canceling my trip to hike in New Mexico, I ended up hiking many of our great local parks and finishing the Buckeye Trail "Little Loop." I highly recommend getting the Buckeye Trail Guthook App if you enjoy hiking.

Buckeye Trail Guthook App
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All the information you need on how to purchase the Buckeye Trail Association apps, maps, and guides can be found at: BuckeyeTrail.org/Maps.php


Crooked River Chapter of the Buckeye Trail Association May 19, 2019, Video: Electronic Mapping 101

Here is a video of the 2019 Trailfest presentation on electronic Mapping. No Sound, but has all the basics. Send Questions to electronicmapping@buckeyetrail.org



February 10, 2019 - Little Loop Presentation, Hike, and Trail Town Information

Little Loop Presentation, Hot Chocolate, and (snowshoe?) Hike

Breakaway excursions will be our host for this presentation. After the presentation we will do a short 1-2 hour hike. Bring your snowshoes if there is snow. If you need to rent a pair contact Breakaway Excursions or click the following link: https://www.breakawayexcursions.com/snowshoe-rental

Northeast Ohio has a special advantage of having a 250 mile “Little Loop” of the Buckeye Trail. This presentation will give a brief history and evolution of Ohio's scenic hiking trail and a pictorial presentation of the sections that make up the “Little Loop”. Come take a virtual tour around the "Little Loop" and learn about the Little Loop Challenge - a collective effort to hike the entire Little Loop in one day!

In addition to learning about new Buckeye Trail apps (mentioned in the previous section of this blog post), the February 10, 2019, "Little Loop" presentation provided a wealth of information about the Buckeye Trail's history, present route, and specific details about the "Little Loop" section. I really enjoyed Buckeye Trail Association Trustee Randall Roberts's (@RandallDRoberts) talk, and really appreciated learning the history of the trail. If you are part of a group interested in the outdoors and in Ohio history, I highly recommend inviting Randall Roberts to speak to your group about the Buckeye Trail "Little Loop."

My tweets include photos with "Little Loop" information and some of the slides from the talk:

It was great to learn about how much had been accomplished by the volunteer leaders of the Buckeye Trail Association over the years!! I recently learned that they have only had a professional staff person for ten years -- learn more by listening to the Introducing Ohio's Buckeye Trail podcast by @TheHikePodcast, which I also mention below in this blog post.

The Buckeye Trail was dedicated in 1959, so 2019 was a special year celebrating the 60th Anniversary of the trail. Learn more about the Buckeye Trail Association's history and its most famous founding member, Emma "Grandma Gatewood" Gatewood, by reading the web page: The Buckeye Trail Story . . .

The first 20 miles were dedicated on September 19, 1959 in Hocking County. Several of the founders and early leaders were among the 34 people making that dedication hike, including the BTA's most famous grandma, Emma Gatewood. From that beginning, the trail grew to over 1,444 miles under the auspices of the BTA. It was completed near Deer Lick Cave in the Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area in 1980.

Here are related tweets with links for information about Emma "Grandma Gatewood" Gatewood:

After the February 10, 2019, "Little Loop" presentation, everyone attending went on a short hike on the Buckeye Trail -- see photos in the tweets that follow:


Note: In the map in the first tweet above, you can see that the part of the Buckeye Trail is also part of the American Discovery Trail (@American_Trail) and the North Country Trail from which you can connect to even more long-distance trails in the United States! See the websites DiscoveryTrail.org and NorthCountrytrail.org to learn more about these long-distance trails! Here is a map from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources website (@OhioDNR) that shows how the trails overlap to which I added insert maps that show the location of the multi-state trails:

A section of the Buckeye Trail is also part of the American Discovery Trail and the North Country Trail.
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Trail Town - Buckeye Trail
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Buckeye Trail Towns

Our Buckeye Trail Towns provide destinations around which you can plan your outdoor recreation. Head here for a weekend or more and set up your base camp at a local campground, or enjoy creature comforts at one of the local motels or bed and breakfasts. There are hometown restaurants, shops, and other in-town amenities to complement your outdoor forays on the Buckeye Trail and other hiking trails, along creeks and rivers in your kayak, or out on mountain bike trails on your bike.

Get to know the backroads and byways and genuine friendliness of small town Ohio as you base your next outdoor expedition from a Buckeye Trail Town Community!

After the hike, Julie and I visited the trail town of of Mantua, Ohio, for lunch. Check out the list of trail towns, and the resources in these towns, on the Buckeye Trail Association website at: BuckeyeTrail.org/TrailTowns.php

From my backpacking experience, I know the importance of the work of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy to build relationships with towns along the trail that provide resources to backpackers. It is great that the Buckeye Trail Association is also forming relationships with Ohio towns along the path of their trail.



Saturday, July 18, 2020 - Buckeye Trail Little Loop Challenge 2020

The Little Loop Challenge - Together We Hiked It All!
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A BIG thank-you and congratulations to Buckeye Trail Board Member Randall Roberts (@RandallDRoberts) for successfully organizing over 50 hikers and bikers in collectively completing the "Little Loop" section of the Buckeye Trail in one day! I really like the event's tagline -- "Together We Hiked It All" -- since it conveys how people come together to reach a larger goal.

Like other events this year, the Little Loop Challenge was done social-distancing-style, with the bikers and hikers encouraged not to travel with non-family members. Also, the traditional BBQ dinner gathering at the end of the day was canceled. It still felt good to know that I was one of many participating in this one-day challenge.

2020 Fourth Annual Buckeye Trail Little Loop Challenge
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2020 4th Annual The Little Loop Challenge

To Collectively Hike the 250 Mile Buckeye Trail "Little Loop" in a Day

How do you get 70-100 hikers on the trail and still social distance? Spread them out over 250 miles. Once again we will attempt to hike the entire 250+ mile "Little Loop" of the Buckeye Trail in one day! That's right! We will do it collectively. We've divided the Little Loop into 77 segments ranging from 1/2 mile to 6.5 miles. . . . participation is FREE. I have 50 patches left from previous years and will send these out if we are successful to the first 50 who register with a priority given to first time participants.

At the February 10, 2019, "Little Loop" presentation, I learned about the Buckeye Trail Little Loop Challenge, and knew I would like to support this effort by the Northeast Ohio trail community to complete the loop in one day. Normally, I would have been out of town on a backpacking trip in mid-July, so with my Continental Divide Trail trip canceled, it was great to be able to participate in the Buckeye Trail Little Loop Challenge 2020!

Learn more on the Buckeye Trail Little Loop Challenge web page, and in my blog post about the day:



Tuesday, November 10, 2020 - Buckeye Trail Podcasts

Introducing Ohio's Buckeye Trail

Andrew Bashaw, Executive Director of the Buckeye Trail Association, gives an overview of the Buckeye Trail. He shares info to consider as you get out for a day hike, section hike or thru hike. We chat about trail towns, trail maintenance and creating a community around the trail that encompasses all generations.

Thru Hiking the Buckeye Trail with Mei-Ling Liber

Mei-Ling shares her experience hiking the Buckeye Trail (BT) as part of a Warrior Expeditions adventure. She also goes into some background of how she set out on a section hike of the Appalachian Trail leading up to doing the BT.  We talk about trail towns, the amazing volunteers of the Buckeye Trail Association and what it's like to be a trail angel and trail maintainer.

I though it appropriate that I found and listened to two podcasts by @TheHikePodcast on the day I completed the Buckeye Trail "Little Loop." I highly recommend listening to the interview of the Buckeye Trail Association's Executive Director Andrew Bashaw to learn more about the trail. The podcast with Buckeye Trail Thu-Hiker Mei-Ling Liber also has interesting information about her section hike of the Appalachian Trail and about the Warrior Expeditions program.

Thanks to @HikeTheBT for sharing these podcasts on Twitter so that I could learn about @TheHikePodcast's twitter feed.

After listening to the podcast with Mei-Ling Liber, I looked at the Warrior Expeditions' recent tweets and found:



Buckeye Trail Circuit Hikes & Patches

The circular nature of the Buckeye Trail lends itself to the circuit hike, a variation of the 'end-to-end' hikes common of more linear trails. Many people have completed the entire trail (generally over several years) by slowly 'completing the loop'. If you have accomplished this, you are entitled to a BTA patch.

When you complete the "Little Loop," or even the nearly 1,444 miles of the Buckeye Trail, be sure to let the Buckeye Trail Association know for their records and to receive your Buckeye Trail completion patch(es). The "Buckeye Trail Circuit Hike" web page has information about the patches, and about leader-led BTA Circuit Hikes.

Buckeye Trail "Little Loop" Completion Patch - "I Completed The Little Loop"
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Buckeye Trail Completion Patch - "I Hiked Ohio!"
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I want to thank Buckeye Trail Association Trustee Randall Roberts (@RandallDRoberts) for mailing me the new “I Completed The Little Loop” patch and a note of congratulations:



Related Blog Posts

Julie (my wife and co-blogger) and I always like to list related blog posts so you can learn more about the places we visit or events we attend. We have written many blog posts that relate to my experiences hiking and biking the Buckeye Trail "Little Loop." See the following blog subject links:

  • Most of the venues that Julie and I write about in our sosAssociates.com/Blog are currently closed, so we have written our "Social Distancing Series" blog posts to capture the activities we are able to do at this time. We have written about visiting a lot of parks, and are very grateful for the several northeast Ohio park systems that we have been exploring during this time. Once the coronavirus crisis is over, it will be interesting to read these to see the contrast between these times and "normal life."

I also want to recommend an excellent blog post by Cleveland Traveler (@CLEtraveler) about the section of the Buckeye Trail near Cleveland:

We expect to continue to practice social distancing for the next several months, so please come back to read more and...

Stay well!


Please use these links to read more about my experiences completing the "Little Loop."

I hope you enjoyed learning about the Buckeye Trail "Little Loop!'


Submitted by Stuart Smith on Mon, 01/25/2021 - 19:42


I recently wrote to Cleveland Metroparks Outdoor Recreation Manager Rachel Nagle to thank her for some information she sent me about the park's Trail Challenge (click here to see blog posts). When she wrote back, she mentioned that she is working on completing the Buckeye Trail "Little Loop" and that she is "making fun YouTube videos of [her] route along the way."

Tonight, I found her Adventurous Heart - Rachel Nagle YouTube Channel at: YouTube.com/User/AdventurousHeartRMN

Here are direct links to her Buckeye Trail "Little Loop" videos:

  1. June 3, 2019 - Buckeye Trail Section Hike-Little Loop: Part 1-Our House to Medina Line Road/303

  2. June 16, 2019 - Buckeye Trail Section Hike-Little Loop: Part 2 - 303 to Bedford Reservation (Meeting a Thru-Hiker)

  3. October 14, 2019 - Buckeye Trail Section Hike-Little Loop: Part 3 - Bedford to South Chagrin (LNT Principles)

  4. December 3, 2019 - Buckeye Trail Section Hike-Little Loop: Part 4 - South Chagrin to Orchard Hills (Finding Calm)

  5. December 28, 2019 - Buckeye Trail-Little Loop: Pt 5-Orchard Hills to Mentor Lagoons (Staying Warm & Campsite Selection)

  6. January 26, 2020 - Buckeye Trail-Little Loop: Pt 6- Mentor Lagoons to Big Creek (Solo Adventure & Weather Advisories)

  7. August 21, 2020 - Buckeye Trail-Little Loop: Pt 8- Burton to Mantua (Unexpected Adventures)

  8. August 21, 2020 - Buckeye Trail-Little Loop: Pt 8- Burton to Mantua (Unexpected Adventures)

I hope you enjoy learning more about the "Little Loop" by watching the Adventurous Heart - Rachel Nagle videos.

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