The Niles and Lisbon Branch of the Erie Lackawanna RR once linked Cleveland and Pittsburgh with passenger and freight service. Now about 15 miles of this line have new life as the Niles Greenway in Trumbull County and the Mill Creek Metroparks Bikeway in Mahoning County. We combine these trails here because the Niles Greenway is just 4 miles long and connects seamlessly with the Mill Creek Bikeway. This pair of trails is part of the 110-mile Great Ohio Lake to River Greenway, which will eventually connect Lake Erie to the Ohio River in northeastern Ohio.
The asphalt trails run through varied settings, from the town of Niles at the north, through industrial areas and housing developments, past a reservoir, and through farmland, with periodic stretches of woods and wetlands. It ends at the south edge of the Metroparks demonstration farm.
Mill Creek MetroParks Trail
Location Between Niles and Canfield, Ohio
Trailheads Niles, Depot St, Mahoning Ave, Kirk, ODOT/ US 224,
MetroParks Farm, Kirk Road, Western Reserve
Length, Surface total 14.7 paved miles, 14.5 main stem, 0.2 access trail
Character mostly wooded, some industrial, some development, flat
Usage restrictions No motorized vehicles
Amenities Rest rooms, water at Niles and Metro Parks Farm
Driving time from Pittsburgh 1 hour 15 minutes northwest
These trails are notable for the number of road crossings. This is the Western Reserve, one of the regions in Ohio where the practice of surveying square townships with 1-mile square sections was established under the Public Land Survey System. This, plus the generally level terrain, led to a road network primarily on a square one mile grid, so you’d expect road crossings every mile. But this area has lots of other road crossings, too. There are over 30 road crossings in these 15 miles, so there’s a lot besides the scenery to pay attention to. Fortunately, the busiest crossings are grade-separated -- tunnels under major highways, bridge over Mahoning Ave.
In Mahoning County (northern section) the mileposts count down from 3.87 in Niles heading south to zero at the county border. In Ohio county (southern section) the mileposts start with zero at the county border and count up to 10.6 at Reserve Rd in the south. We describe he trail north to south.
The Niles Greenway begins at a nice trailhead in Niles, (MP Niles 3.87) just a couple of blocks from the business district (and restaurants). The trail dives immediately into a park, crosses Mosquito Creek, and winds through a residential area (with five of the road crossings) and then an industrial area before crossing the Mahoning River at Miles MP 3.05. Continuing past a few industrial buildings, it passes a large wetland on the left and the control structures for Meander Creek Reservoir on the right (Niles MP 1.34). The southern trailhead for the Niles section is at Depot St (Niles MP 0.4), and the Niles Greenway connects seamlessly with the Mill Creek Bikeway at County Line Rd (MP 0 for both trails -- Mill Creek counts up from north to south).
For the next couple of miles the trail is mostly in the woods. At about MP 0.8 the trail enters a tunnel to pass under I80. From about MP 2 to MP 7, housing developments can be seen on the other side of the wood line. Sometimes 100 feet away, other times 800 feet.
At Kirk Rd (MP 4.8 ) There is an award winning trailhead with benches, restroom, bike rental and parking. Another tun-ell to pass under I76 is about 400 feet past the trailhead.
Starting around MP 7 the trail returns to woods with industrial buildings at each of the road crossings until the crossing of SR44 at MP 8.6 which marks the trails entry to the MetroParks demonstration farm. A spur trail at MP 9.0 leads to a southern trailhead a quarter-mile to the left/east, but the trail continues to Western Reserve Rd, MP 10.6.
Local history, attractions
Open seasonally, Mill Creek MetroParks operates a 400-acre working farm to promotes agriculture through educational programming, tours, display areas, and a children’s playroom. Visitors can see the animals in the display barn, take a tractor-wagon tour through the farm, learn about agriculture in the hands-on AgVenture barn and children’s playroom and participate in scheduled activities. Call the MetroParks Farm at 330-533-7572 for facility hours and educational programs. Group tours are by appointment only.
Rental facilities at the Farm include a classroom and McMahon Hall, an all-purpose room for year-round use. McMahon Hall has a full kitchen and can accommodate up to 160 people (dining seating) and 250 people (seminar seating).
Across the Street from the Metro farms Trailhead is the Western Reserve Village and the Canfield Fairgrounds. The Western Reserve Village contains structures moved to the site from around the county. Along with the historic buildings are a variety of themed gardens that complement the buildings they surround. <<More to come>> http://towncrieronline.com/page/content.detail/id/513796/Living-history-grows-at-Western-Reserve-Village.html.
Extensions of the ride
To the north, it is possible to follow roads for about 5 to 6 miles and connect to the Western Reserve Greenway, a 44.5 mile trail from Warren to Ashtabula. See page SW-91
To the south, it is possible to follow roads for about 6 miles and connect to the Little Beaver Greenway, a 13 mile trail between Washingtonville and Leetonia. See page SW-101
This trail is part of the Great Ohio Lake-to-River Greenway (Page SW-7) There are hopes to connect it to the north with the Western Reserve Greenway Trail (See page SW-91). and to the south with the Little Beaver Greenway Trail (See Page SW-101).
Vicinity - Northern Trailheads: Directions begin on Ohio turnpike at the intersection with I80, exit 218.. To reach this point from Pittsburgh, take the Parkway North/I279N, take Pennsylvania Turnpike West/I76. Continue on the Ohio turnpike/I76, Take exit 218.
Niles Trailhead: MP 3.87 At the 218 exit, follow signs for Youngstown and merge onto I80 East. Go 3.3 miles and take exit 223 for OH46, turn left/north onto OH46N. Go 3.9 miles and turn right/east onto E State St. Follow State St as it bends left. Go 0.2 miles and turn right/east onto Church St and then left into the parking lot.
Depot St: MP 0.4 At the 218 exit, follow signs for Youngstown and merge onto I80 East. Go 3.3 miles and take exit 223 for OH46, turn left/north onto OH46N. Go 1.2 miles and turn left/west onto Depot St. Go 0.3 miles and just before crossing the trail turn left/south into the parking lot.
Mahoning Avenue Trailhead: At the 218 exit, follow signs for Akron-Canton/County Rd 18/Mahoning Ave. Go 1.2 miles and take the left fork to follow County Rd 18 West, merging onto Mahoning Ave. Go 2.3 miles and just before the trail bridge, turn left/north onto Harold Street. Go 300 ft and turn left/west into the Mill Creek Park Bikeway parking lot. The trail entrance is across Harold St. Turn left/north away from Mahoning Ave. At the “T” turn left/north to go to Niles, turn right/south and up over Mahoning Ave to go to Mill Creek Farm.
Kirk Road Trailhead: MP 4.8 At the 218 exit, follow signs for Akron-Canton/County Rd 18/Mahoning Ave. Go 1.2 miles and take the left fork to follow County Rd 18 West. Merge onto Mahoning Ave. Go 2.2 and turn right/south on S Tuner Rd. Got 2.1 miles and turn left/east on Kirk Rd. Go 0.1 miles and shortly after crossing under I76, the parking lot will be on your right.
Vicinity - Southern Trailheads: Directions begin on Ohio turnpike at the intersection with OH7, exit 232.. To reach this point from Pittsburgh, take the Parkway North/I279N, take Pennsylvania Turnpike West I76. Continue on the Ohio turnpike I76, Take exit 232.
ODOT lot, US 224, Weekends only: At the 232 exit follow signs for OH7N. Go 2.0 miles and turn left/west on W Western reserve Rd. Go 5.0 miles and turn right/north onto OH46N. Go 1.6 miles and keep left to continue on OH46. Go 0.8 miles and turn right/northeast onto Lisbon ST/Youngstown Salem Rd. Go 0.1 miles and turn left/north onto Railroad St. Go 0.4 miles and turn left/west on Main St. Go 200 feet and turn right/north into the DOT parking lot on the corner. The trail is some 600 to 700 feet further down the sidewalk along Main St. This trailhead is only available on the weekends.
MetroParks Farm trailhead: MP 9.0 At the 232 exit follow signs for OH7N. Go 2.0 miles and turn left/west on W Western reserve Rd. Go 5.0 miles and turn right/north onto OH46N. Go 1.6 miles and turn left/west into the parking lot for the Mill Creek Metro Parks Administration Office. The trail head is located in the far right corner of the parking lot.
W Western Reserve trailhead: MP 10.6 At the 232 exit follow signs for OH7N. Go 2.1 miles and turn left/west on W Western reserve Rd. Go 5.3 miles and just after passing the trail on the right, there are two parking spaces on the left.
Rest rooms, water: Water at the Niles trailhead, at Kirk Rd, and a faucet on the side of the MetroParks Farm building. SST at the Niles trailhead, at Kirk Rd, and at MetroParks Farm Trailhead,
Bike shop, rentals: At the Kick road Trailhead MP 4.8, Austintown Glenwood Cycle Austintown,Oh (1mi E) agcycle.com/ no rentals; Frankford Bicycle Inc Girard,OH (2 mi E) frankfordbike.com
Restaurant, groceries: Niles, Austintown, Canfield,
Camping, simple lodging: [[[find]]]
Swimming, fishing: Mahoning River
Winter sports: [[[find]]]
Wheelchair access: OK.
Mill Creek MetroParks
P.O. Box 596
Canfield, OH 4440
Maps, guides, other references
USGS Topographic Maps: Warren, Canfield, Salem (all Ohio)
Trail Map/Brochure available from MetroParks or PDF on the web.
Text version of 17 Nov 2021 edition. Rode the entire 15 miles 10/2021. Conditions will have changed; you are responsible for your own safety. Oldest segment check 10/2021..