Run, Walk, or Bike The Olentangy Trail

In this Olentangy Trail Guide, I share information about running, biking or walking the Olentangy Trail. I share trail maps, access points, and photos to help you best make use of your time exploring the trail. I started using the trail in 1993 for casual bike rides and nearly weekly since 2010 as a runner. It is one of my favorite places to run in Columbus.

This scenic trail which runs along the Olentangy River, is centrally located, making it a great trail for Central Ohio residents and visitors.

Trail Overview

The trail runs from Worthington Hills Park just north of I-270 on the North side of Columbus and goes approximately 13 miles to the South towards downtown Columbus. It has been voted as one of the most scenic paved running trails in Central Ohio and is one of the most popular in all of Ohio in terms of daily use.

Along the trail, you will pass through several well-known parks and neighborhoods. For example, the trail passes through Whetstone Park / Park of Roses and Antrim Park, two popular Columbus parks.

One of the nice things about the Olentangy Trail is the easy access to explore the trail from various trailheads.

The Olentangy Trail is broken up into two continuous sections, the North Olentangy and South Olentangy trails segments. A neighborhood at Northmor Park connects both.

North Olentangy Trail (Worthington / Clintonville)

The North section of the Olentangy trail runs from Northmor Park in Clintonville and runs North to Worthington Hills Park. You can access the trail from either end or along a couple of access points along the way (see below).

North Olentangy Trail Map and Trailhead Access Points

The North section of the Olentangy Trail can be accessed through the following access points. There are a few other access points from neighborhoods that border the trail but would require street parking. The following trailheads have parking.

Worthington Hills Park (7740 Olentangy River Road – Worthington)
Olentangy Parklands (600 West Wilson Bridge Road – Worthington)
Thomas Worthington High School (parking area is West of the stadium close to river)
Antrim Park (5800 Olentangy River Road – Columbus)
Northmor Park (3601 Olentangy Blvd – Columbus)

Olentangy Trail Map - North section (worthington to northmor park)

Image credit: Columbus Parks and Recreation

Olentangy Trail Connector at Northmor Park

The trail appears to end at Northmor Park. However, heading South towards Northmor Park, exit via the Northmor Park entrance towards the neighborhood, then turn right on Olentangy Blvd. Olentangy Blvd eventually turns into W. Kenworth Rd. Proceed a few hundred meters, then turn right on Milton Avenue. Here you will cross West North Broadway at the traffic light, and just past the intersection is Riverside Drive. Turn right on Riverside to pick up the trail again. Signs will mark the route.

South Olentangy Trail (OSU / Downtown)

The South portion of the Olentangy Trail runs from Northmor Park to downtown Columbus’ Scioto Mile along the scenic Riverfront. It passes through Clinton / Como Park, the OSU Wetland Research Park, Tuttle Park, and The Ohio State University.

From there, it ends at the Scioto trails. The Scioto trail heads West towards the Camp Chase Trail or SouthEast to Berliner Park. The Camp Chase trail heads West towards the West side of Columbus. Both trails can add additional mileage for you.

As you pass through the campus area, look for the OSU rowing team practicing on the river, depending on the day and time.

South Olentangy Trail Map and Trailhead Access Points

There are several neighborhood access points along the southern part of the trail. However, not all offer parking. Please watch for tow-away signs and ensure you park in designated areas, especially around campus.

Here are some suggested areas to find parking.

Northmor Park (3601 Olentangy Blvd – Columbus)
Clinton / Como Park
Tuttle Park / Tuttle Recreation Center

Scioto Trail – You will head North to pick up the Olentangy Trail.
Parking Garages near Bicentennial Park
Parking Garages near Nationwide Area
Parking Garages near Scioto / Audubon Park

Image credit: Columbus Parks and Recreation

Most Crowded Times

Saturday and Sunday mornings from 7 am to 12 noon are the busiest time on the trail. Several running and cycling clubs and hundreds of independent walkers, runners, and cyclists frequently use the trail for training.

The busiest area tends to be around Antrim Park. There is a large parking lot with soccer fields and a playground, and a lot of people fish at the lake.

Least Crowded Times

Weekdays and most evenings are the best time to visit the trail if you seek a quieter trail experience.

The trail is fairly slow on weekdays, but it’s certainly not abandoned either. There is always someone using the trail. However, you can sometimes go a half mile or so and not see someone.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the most common questions people have about the Olentangy Trail

Is the Olentangy Trail Safe?

The trail is relatively safe, which has much to do with Columbus being a safe city overall. However, just like any public place, this trail and any like it can have its share of problems from time to time.

In the past ten years, I can think of three or four occasions where someone was attacked or threatened on the trail. Most of these occurred when the trail was isolated, and most incidents occurred South of Whetstone Park, towards the OSU campus and downtown area.

However, considering the tens of thousands of visitors that use the trail each year, the trail is statistically safe. I would recommend using the trail with others if safety is a concern. Plus, having a friend along is a great way to hang out and get fit!

I never felt unsafe on the trail, but I would not want my daughter to use the trail alone, especially during dusk or dawn hours. But looking at media coverage of the attacks that did occur, almost all of them occurred during the late morning or afternoon hours, and in more secluded areas on the trail.

I would avoid leaving valuables in your vehicle. Again, I have never had an issue, but I have seen broken glass in the Wilson Bridge Road trailhead parking lot and know of at least one runner who had his car broken into early one Saturday morning while out on a training run.

Is the Olentangy Trail Paved?

Yes. The entire trail is paved. Antrim Park has a loop that goes around a large lake. That portion is hard-packed gravel/dirt but the Olentangy Trail itself that runs along the West Side of the lake has a paved path.