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TrailFest brings hikers to Yellow Springs

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Two to three hundred hikers from around the state will descend on the village this weekend for the Buckeye TrailFest, an annual event sponsored by the Buckeye Trail Association, or BTA, that is taking place for the first time in Yellow Springs. The event kicks off on Thursday, April 27, and runs through Sunday, April 30.

“Our region has become known as the outdoor adventure capitol of the Midwest,” said villager Mark Heise, who was instrumental in bringing the festival to the village, in a press release. “I am proud to bring this event to my home in Yellow Springs.”

Throughout the weekend the hikers, who will be staying at the Camp Birch Boy Scout camp just southeast of the village, will take organized hikes through Glen Helen, Clifton Gorge, Massie Creek Gorge, John Bryan State Park and parts of Caesar Creek State Park, according to the website They will also have free time to explore, eat and shop in the village.

Villagers may participate if they are members of the Buckeye Trail Association; they can join at a membership event on Thursday, April 27, at 7 p.m. at the Little Art Theatre. Non-members may also take part by showing up at the camp and paying a slightly higher fee, according to the website. For members, the weekend cost is $75 and for non-members, $95. For one day, the cost Friday is $25 for members and $45 for non-members, with a cost of $35 or $55 for Saturday’s activities. Children 17 or under are free.

Kicking off the festival will be a ceremony at 5 p.m. on Thursday, April 27, designating Yellow Springs as an official Trail Town, at an event that takes place on the bike path next to the train station and is open to the public.

The village will be joining the other official BTA Trail Towns of Troy, Piqua, Xenia, Dayton, Milford and Zoar. The designation identifies the village as an official BTA hiking destination as well as a site on the Buckeye Trail, the 1,440 mile trail that winds around Ohio and passes through Yellow Springs.

“Being designated a Buckeye Trail Town highlights this special part of Yellow Springs, and how much we value our trails and hiking,” said Village Council Vice President Brian Housh this week.

The local segment of the Buckeye Trail enters Yellow Springs from the south on the Little Miami Trail bike path, then veers off the bike path and heads west on Dayton Street before it turns north on East Enon Road toward Fairborn.

“It’s one of our greatest treasures and greatest secrets,” said Heise of the trail.

Developed in the 1950s, the Buckeye Trail is Ohio’s state scenic trail, according to a press release, following a 1,440 mile loop around the state.

Becoming an official Trail Town will promote awareness and tourism from hikers and cyclists, Heise has said, literally putting Yellow Springs on the official map of the Buckeye Trail. The trail was developed and is maintained by the BTA, which also seeks to promote hiking.
As well as being part of a healthy lifestyle and open to those of all ages, hiking in one of the local state parks or Glen Helen is a magnet that brings people to Yellow Springs, according to Housh.

“It’s a way to attract people to enjoy our town and our way of life,” Housh said.
The Buckeye TrailFest is jam-packed with activities. Following the Trail Town designation event, BTA members are invited to the Little Art Theatre at 7 p.m. to see “Trail Magic: The Grandma Galewood Story,” a documentary about the 67-year-old Ohioan who was the first woman to hike the entire Appalachian Trail, then returned to Ohio determined to create a trail closer to home.

“She said, we need our own long trail,” Heise said.

Nonmembers who wish to join BTA can do so at the theater.

On Friday morning, TrailFest participants have a plethora of hiking and outdoors activities to choose from. At 6:15 a.m., Glen Helen Director Nick Boutis will lead “Birding the Little Miami River Valley,” starting out in the parking lot in front of the Turner Building at Camp Birch. At 9 a.m., Trail Fest participants may choose from a six-hour hike in the Buck Creek Reservoir, a three-hour mountain biking event at John Bryan Park or, at 9:30 a.m., a hike through Clifton Gorge. At 10:30 a.m., hikers may participate in a 10-mile hike through John Bryan State Park and Glen Helen, led by Lucy Sanchez of Five Rivers Metropark. Also, beginning at noon on Friday, hikers may join a four-hour walk through the west side of John Bryan and through Glen Helen, ending up at the Yellow Springs Brewery, where they will enjoy local beer. After about an hour, participants will either head back to camp or explore Yellow Springs.

That evening, at the Camp Birch dining hall at 6:30 p.m., participants will “enjoy adventures, inspiration and a splash of tomfoolery” from keynote speaker Tom Helbig, the creater of Tomfoolery Outdoors and an outdoor enthusiast who is currently hiking the Buckeye Trail.

The busy schedule continues on Saturday, April 29, capped off with a keynote talk at 6 p.m. at Camp Birch by Stacey Kozel, who will speak on her experience as a paraplegic who hiked the Appalachian Trail.

For more information on all activities Friday, Saturday and Sunday, go online to For more information on the Buckeye Trail, go to

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