Underground Railroad (UGRR)

Underground Railroad Mobile, AL to Owen Sound, ON 5 Map Set GPX Data | Overview | Buy | Mobile App
1. Mobile, AL to Fulton, MS Detail
2. Fulton, MS to Owensboro, KY Detail
3. Owensboro, KY to Milford, OH Detail
4. Milford, OH to Erie, PA Detail
5. Erie, PA to Owen Sound, ON Detail
UGRR Detroit ALT Everett, OH to Owen Sound, ON 2 Map Set GPX Data | Overview | Buy | Mobile App
1. DET ALT 1 - Everett, OH to Sombra, ON Detail
2. DET ALT 2 - Sombra, ON to Owen Sound, ON Detail
UGRR Pittsburgh Spur Pittsburgh, PA to Erie, PA 1 Map Set GPX Data | Overview | Buy | Mobile App
1. PITT SPUR - Pittsburgh, PA to Erie, PA Detail

Due to limited resources, the paper map versions of some sections of this route have been discontinued and will no longer be available once sold out. All sections of this route are still available digitally. More info here: Going Digital: App or GPX.

Route Options

The Underground Railroad Bicycle Route (UGRR) memorializes the Underground Railroad, a network of clandestine routes by which African freedom seekers attempted to escape slavery before and during the Civil War. This page describes the 1,997.1-mile Underground Railroad Bicycle Route from Mobile, Alabama to Owen Sound, Ontario. You may also be interested in the UGRR Detroit Alternate, UGRR Pittsburgh Spur, or the day-trip rides in Ripley, Ohio (PDF).

Ride America’s legendary route to freedom.

The history of this remarkable period comes alive as you pedal along the 1,997.1-mile corridor that traces the Underground Railroad route from the Deep South to Canada, passing points of interest and historic sites. Beginning in Mobile, Alabama, — a busy port for slavery during the pre-civil war era — the route goes north following rivers through Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Kentucky. Waterways, as well as the North Star, were often used by freedom seekers as a guide in their journeys to escape slavery. Upon crossing into Ohio, the route leaves the river to head toward Lake Erie and enters Canada at the Peace Bridge in Buffalo, New York. In Ontario, the route follows the shores of Lake Ontario and ends at Owen Sound, a town founded by freedom seekers as early as 1843. Owen Sound is located on the southern side of Lake Huron’s Georgian Bay.

The southernmost map begins in historic Mobile, Alabama, and follows several river courses northward. In the 1800s Mobile was a key port for ships to unload enslaved Africans. The Tensaw, Alabama, and Tombigbee rivers all flow into Mobile Bay, and were used as guides for freedom seekers to escape northward. Besides the lush green scenery and the many small towns this route passes through, a host of museums, historic parks, and visitor centers bring the region’s history alive.

Historical road plaques are abundant, and riders can read about Indian massacres and the German prisoner-of-war camp in Aliceville, Alabama. One can camp at Historic Blakeley State Park where the last major battle of the Civil War was fought, occurring on the very day that General Lee surrendered in far-off Virginia. There are churches to visit while pedaling past town squares of courthouses and Confederate memorials, tall loblolly pines and the brown waters of the slow-moving Tombigbee and Tennessee rivers… it’s like pedaling through a William Faulkner novel.

Just north of Fulton, Mississippi, the route joins the Natchez Trace Parkway for 10 miles. The area of western Tennessee and Kentucky is rich in American Indian and Civil War history. This area also has many short roller coaster hills. The Shiloh National Military Park and the Fort Donelson National Battlefield are both along the route. You’ll also follow “The Trace Road” through the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area, an expanse of woods where bison roam. No commercial vehicles are allowed on this road and a 45 m.p.h. speed limit is strictly enforced. Upon reaching the Ohio River, once known as the dividing line between the slave and free states, the route then heads northeast along the river.

As you ride close to the Ohio River in the tri-state Kentucky/Indiana/Ohio region, you’re in the Borderland, a narrow strip of land lining both sides of the river that saw some of the Underground Railroad’s most intense activity, and where a concentration of physical evidence remaining from those days still exists. The towns of New Albany, Lancaster, and Madison in Indiana, and Augusta, Old Washington, and Maysville in Kentucky all have buildings, churches, homes or sites to visit. Roads are generally narrow and winding with low traffic counts. The route alternates between following the river and heading inland.

At Maysville you’ll cross the river into Ohio, and then ride downstream a few miles to Ripley, which comprises a fifty-five acre National Historic District. Among the numerous Underground Railroad conductors who were active in Ripley, John P. Parker and the Rev. John Rankin stand out. Parker, an iron worker and inventor, was a former slave who had purchased his freedom. As a conductor, he would often slip back into slave territory to help freedom seekers find their way from Kentucky to Ohio. Rankin, a Presbyterian minister, along with his large family, provided shelter to hundreds of runaways in their home located high above town on Liberty Hill. Of an estimated 2,000 freedom seekers that passed through Ripley, most stayed with the Rankins. Their house could be identified at night from the river by the candle glowing in its window.

There is a 16-mile spur into downtown Cincinnati. The city holds numerous sites relating directly to Blacks’ struggle for freedom, including the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and the Harriet Beecher Stowe House. The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is the premier facility in the country highlighting the heroics and tragedies associated with the Underground Railroad. Exhibits include the hauntingly evocative Slave Pen, a small log structure that was used to store as many as seventy-five enslaved people awaiting to be shipped to and sold in the Deep South. It was moved to the center from a farm in Mason County, Kentucky.

From Milford north to Xenia, you’ll cycle along a grade that beginning in the mid-1800s served an “overground” railroad. After the trains stopped running in the 1970s, the route was turned into a rail-trail for bicyclists and other non-motorized travelers. The trail parallels the Little Miami State and National Scenic River, creating the additional option of stashing your bike for a day and checking out the same scenery by canoe. (Rentals and shuttles are available at several area liveries.) One of the longest paved rail-trails in America, the Little Miami Scenic Trail offers fifty miles of the most enjoyable cycling you’ll experience on the UGRR. The delightfully car-free trail winds amid an ever-changing rural landscape of rolling farmlands, picturesque towns, river cliffs, and hardwood forests. A host of warblers and other songbirds provide background music befitting the bucolic surroundings, and you may also spot wildlife like whitetail deer, coyote, and beaver. This is just the beginning of the Ohio to Erie Trail, an amalgamation of primarily off-street recreational trails from the Ohio River to Lake Erie, which the route follows for much of its traverse across Ohio.

The rapidly growing community of Springboro is reached by taking the Springboro Spur from Waynesville. It’s a side trip you should not miss. Founded by anti-slavery Quaker Jonathan Wright in 1815, Springboro evolved into one of the most frequented stopovers for freedom seekers. It’s estimated that some 4,000 escaped slaves traveled through Springboro on their flights to freedom between 1815 and 1864. Today, the historic downtown district holds more documented Underground Railroad safe houses than any other community in the state, at least one of which you can overnight in: the 1815 home of town founder Wright, the oldest home in Springboro. Now known as the Wright House Bed & Breakfast, there you can view a hiding place squeezed between the second story and the attic, as well as inspect an impressive collection of antiques and artifacts from the period.

In Wilberforce, an unincorporated community just northeast of Xenia, you’ll find the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center. The museum’s mission is to inform and teach visitors about Black history and culture, beginning with the African origins and stretching to present times. One highlight is the museum’s small theater that regularly screens the award-winning Music As a Metaphor, a half-hour video tracking the origins and evolution of Black music from its African roots to the popular music of the 1950s.

The route travels through Ohio’s capital, Columbus, and temporarily deviates from the Ohio to Erie Trail to follow the Olentangy Trail through the city.

The route continues northeast on the Ohio to Erie Trail, passing through the small towns of Mt. Vernon, Millersburg, and Massillon. In Akron, the route navigates efficiently through the urban hub entirely on traffic-free bike paths. Learn about abolitionist John Brown, and see the house he lived in between the years of 1844 and 1854.

Ashtabula County occupies the extreme northeast corner of Ohio. Best known for its numerous wineries and beautiful covered bridges, the area held some three-dozen Underground Railroad safe houses. Here you’ll ride on the Western Reserve Greenway, a “linear park” following the former right-of-way of the PennCentral Railroad. A dozen Underground Railroad interpretive markers line the twenty-seven miles of the greenway (thirteen of which are part of our route) claimed by Ashtabula County, identifying such sites as the Hubbard House, which is situated adjacent to Walnut Beach in the city of Ashtabula. The safe house was considered a northern terminus of the railroad, as escaped formerly enslaved people would go from there by boat across Lake Erie to Canada. It’s now home to an Underground Railroad museum that includes a map showing the locations of all known Underground Railroad stations in the area.

There’s a great deal of history to be explored in the Buffalo/Niagara area, ranging from that of American Revolution times to the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site. This region became a natural funnel for freedom seekers, due to its remoteness, its proximity to Canada, and the anti-slavery sentiment that ran strong throughout New York State. Consequently, numerous safe houses were active on the U.S. side of the international border. One you can visit, and Buffalo’s best-known Underground Railroad site, is the Michigan Avenue Baptist Church. In the 1850s, the church building served as an Underground Railroad safe house, where freedom seekers would hide in the basement waiting to be boated across the Niagara River to Canada by night.

After crossing into Canada, from Fort Erie to Niagara-on-the-Lake the route mainly uses the Niagara River Recreation Trail, and short portions of the Niagara Parkway along the scenic Niagara River. The route near Niagara Falls is extremely busy in summer, with many international tourists visiting the area.

Numerous plaques memorializing people, structures, and events important to the Underground Railroad and other periods of black history are found on or close to the route as you proceed north through the Niagara area. Examples include a plaque at the Queenston Heights Park in Queenston, commemorating Ontario’s first Coloured Corps; and one in St. Catharines honoring Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman. Considered the “Moses of Her People,” Tubman lived in this community for nearly a decade.

Murphy Orchards — found at the end of the 31.1-mile Murphy Orchards Spur, which begins at the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge — is a partner in the National Park Service’s National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program. Enduring legend has it that Charles and Libby McClew, who established the farmstead here in 1850, served as Underground Railroad station masters. Among other things, you can view a ten-by-twelve-foot space beneath the barn thought to have served as a hiding place. The farm is open to the public, and Underground Railroad tours are offered.

Owen Sound, where your ride of discovery ends, was known as the final terminal of the Underground Railroad. It’s where many formerly enslaved people found their hard-earned freedom, and many of them settled in the village originally called Sydenham. Every year since 1862 the community has held its Emancipation Picnic, which today celebrates two historic milestones of freedom: the British Emancipation Act of 1834 and the United States Emancipation Proclamation of 1863.

Photo by Dennis Coello

The roads and highways in Alabama and Mississippi will be flat to gently rolling. After leaving the Natchez Trace Parkway you will experience multiple climbs and descents on roller coaster hills through Tennessee, Indiana, and Kentucky.

In Ohio you’ll be riding on the many different paved rail trails that make up the Ohio to Erie Trail. The majority of roads are rural in nature and tend to be excellent for bike touring, with smooth, high quality blacktop. You’ll travel through many small towns where traffic will increase during commuting hours. The route gets hillier the farther north you head.

From Ashtabula, Ohio into Pennsylvania and New York you’ll enjoy a long stretch of flat to rolling waterside riding along Lake Erie, the southern-most of the five Great Lakes.

After crossing into Canada you’ll ride the Niagara River Recreation Trail past Niagara Falls. Throughout Ontario the route traverses the Niagara Escarpment, so expect more climbs and descents. This will provide a challenge for the fully loaded cyclist, especially when going off route for services or exploration.

Underground Railroad - Main Route
Section Distance Elevation Total Climb Avg. Climb/mile
Total 1997.1 miles Minimum: 0 ft.
Maximum:1,760 ft.
84,925 ft. north bound
84,290 ft. south bound
43 ft. per mi. north bound
42 ft. per mi. south bound
1 400.8 miles Minimum: 0 ft.
Maximum:495 ft.
17,035 ft. north bound
16,760 ft. south bound
43 ft. per mi. north bound
42 ft. per mi. south bound
2 435.0 miles Minimum: 280 ft.
Maximum:730 ft.
25,680 ft. north bound
25380 ft. south bound
59 ft. per mi. north bound
58 ft. per mi. south bound
3 378.9 miles Minimum: 372 ft.
Maximum:980 ft.
18,290 ft. north bound
18,130 ft. south bound
48 ft. per mi. north bound
48 ft. per mi. south bound
4 404.6 miles Minimum: 530 ft.
Maximum:1,335 ft.
9,500 ft. north bound
9380` ft. south bound
23 ft. per mi. north bound
23 ft. per mi. south bound
5 377.8 miles Minimum: 240 ft.
Maximum:1,760 ft.
14,420 ft. north bound
14,640 ft. south bound
38 ft. per mi. north bound
39 ft. per mi. south bound
UGRR Detroit ALT
Section Distance Elevation Total Climb Avg. Climb/mile
Total 564.7 miles Minimum: 570 ft.
Maximum:1,205 ft.
11,525 ft. north bound
11,705 ft. south bound
20 ft. per mi. north bound
21 ft. per mi. south bound
1 340.8 miles Minimum: 570 ft.
Maximum:1,205 ft.
5,480 ft. north bound
5,645 ft. south bound
16 ft. per mi. north bound
17 ft. per mi. south bound
2 223.9 miles Minimum: 575 ft.
Maximum:955 ft.
6,045 ft. north bound
6060 ft. south bound
27 ft. per mi. north bound
27 ft. per mi. south bound
UGRR Pittsburgh Spur
Section Distance Elevation Total Climb Avg. Climb/mile
Total 153.0 miles Minimum: 645 ft.
Maximum:1,545 ft.
8,195 ft. north bound
8,185 ft. south bound
54 ft. per mi. north bound
53 ft. per mi. south bound
Underground Railroad Alternates
Name Section Distance Total Climb Avg. Climb/mile
Gravel Alternate 1 4.4 miles 190 ft. north bound
450 ft. south bound
43 ft. per mi. north bound
102 ft. per mi. south bound
Cincinnati Spur 3 16.2 miles 735 ft. north bound
780 ft. south bound
45 ft. per mi. north bound
48 ft. per mi. south bound
Springboro Spur 4 9.9 miles 420 ft. west bound
355 ft. east bound
42 ft. per mi. west bound
36 ft. per mi. east bound
Caledon Alternate 5 5.8 miles 275 ft. north bound
155 ft. south bound
47 ft. per mi. north bound
27 ft. per mi. south bound
Murphy Orchards Spur 5 31.1 miles 855 ft. east bound
1,095 ft. west bound
27 ft. per mi. east bound
35 ft. per mi. west bound
Michigan Avenue Spur 5 0.6 miles 20 ft. north bound
0 ft. south bound
33 ft. per mi. north bound
0 ft. per mi. south bound
UGRR Detroit ALT Alternates
Name Section Distance Total Climb Avg. Climb/mile
Sandusky Spur DET ALT 1 14.8 miles 190 ft. north bound
280 ft. south bound
13 ft. per mi. north bound
19 ft. per mi. south bound
Windsor Option DET ALT 2 162.1 miles 1225 ft. north bound
1,220 ft. south bound
8 ft. per mi. north bound
8 ft. per mi. south bound

This route can be ridden from early spring (typically April) in the south through September in the north, depending on the weather. Summers will be hot and humid. Both Alabama and Mississippi are occasionally in the path of tropical storms or hurricanes from June through November. Afternoon summer thunderstorms are typical and sometimes are accompanied by high winds and hail. While prevailing winds are generally light, Lake Erie’s shore frequently develops a localized wind pattern that may extend inland for only a few miles. In southern Ontario, the climate is highly modified by the influence of the Great Lakes. Spring brings the beginning of the tornado season, and southern Ontario has the highest frequency of tornadoes in Canada. In summer, thunderstorms can produce heavy downpours, hail, damaging winds and occasional tornadoes.

On map sections #1 and #2 of this route services between towns are often limited, so stock up on water when you can and carry extra snacks. The convenience stores in the southern states often have “southern cookin’ foods” that you would not normally find up north. After entering Ohio you’ll encounter towns at frequent intervals, and many more campgrounds to choose from. If you are riding this route early in the spring be aware that as you head north campgrounds might not be open yet so call ahead or check the internet to confirm opening dates. Conversely, some cyclists may want to do the northern portions of this route during the colors of autumn. If you do, call ahead to verify campground availability because they may close after Labor Day.

Some campgrounds will charge a cyclist traveling alone less if they have hiker/biker sites, but often they will charge the price of a regular tent or RV site, and that can easily be $10-$40/night (higher in tourist areas). The maps list churches that have opened their doors to cyclists, but they aren’t all that closely spaced. If you’re friendly and ask around, you can often get yourself invited to camp in a yard. Our routes sometimes go through national forests (moreso in the west) and you are allowed to camp anywhere on national forest land as long as you “pack it in, pack it out.” Many city parks are free to camp in.

You may also wish to sign up with Warmshowers, a reciprocal hospitality site for bicycle travelers, for other overnight options.

Route Highlights

UGRR Highlights – Section 1: Mobile Bay, AL to Fulton, MS

Mobile Bay, AL

  • Former slave market in the old historic district of Mobile. This was known as the most active slave market in town.
  • Big Zion AME Church at 112 S. Bayou St. was organized in 1842, now one of the oldest Black institutions in Mobile. Originally named Little Zion, but after extensive remodeling in 1896, renamed Big Zion.
  • Union Baptist Church. In front of the church, visitors view the bust of Cudjoe Lewis, a member who donated the land for the church. Cudjoe was the longest living imported slave originally from Africa. After the Civil War, he settled and lived in Africatown.
  • Africatown, junction of Cut Off Rd. and Bay Bridge Road. In 1860, the last shipment of slaves were brought into Mobile Bay illegally. After the Civil War, this group of Africans created their own settlement where they practiced their native tribal customs, including language. Learn more about this historic area at the Library of Congress.
  • Old Plateau Cemetery Plaque and Africatown Graveyard at junction of Cut Off Rd. and Bay Bridge Road. Founded in 1876, it is the final resting place of enslaved Africans, African-Americans, and a Buffalo Soldier.

Baldwin County, AL

  • Historic Blakeley State Park is the site of the last major battle of the Civil War, the Battle of Blakeley wherein nine black regiments of the U.S. Colored Troops fought.
  • Montgomery Hill Baptist Church is the oldest surviving church in Baldwin County. It houses a slave gallery which provides a historical statement of the social arrangements of a slave-owning society.
  • Hal’s Lake is off route and inaccessible, however this body of water is named for an escaped slave from Mississippi who lived here undetected and even recruited other slaves to his hideout. This led local plantation owners to attribute the disappearances to the Underground Railroad.

Grove Hill, AL

  • Clarke County Museum at 116 Cobbs St. This museum has slave artifacts and documentation on nearby escape routes.

Lowndes County, MS

  • Concord Christian Methodist Episcopal Church at 1213 Concord Rd. It was established in 1867, right after the end of the Civil War.

Columbus, MS

  • Missionary Union Baptist Church at 1207 Fifth Ave. N. The oldest African American Church in northeast Mississippi. Reverend Tony Montgomery will welcome you to his flock if you stop in on Sunday.
  • Columbus Public Library holds an archive collection of slavery documents, newspaper clippings and other artifacts.

UGRR Highlights – Section 2: Fulton, MS to Owensboro, KY

Cornith, MS

  • Civil War Interpretive Center is a multi-million dollar museum and part of the Shiloh National Military Park. Our photographer Dennis Coello called this museum “a real gem.” Visit the Black History Museum housing displays that tell the story of Corinth’s Black community while you’re in town. There’s also a route that follows the battles and defense works throughout town. Cornith is off route about 15 miles west of Burnsville, MS.

Shiloh, TN

  • Shiloh Naitonal Military Park and Visitor Center was one of the first Civil War battles in which nearly 24,000 lives were lost in the spring of 1862. Pedaling in Shiloh is excellent and cyclists can ride a trail to a group of Indian mounds along the Tennessee River.

Savannah, TN

  • Tennessee River Museum is the place to learn about the Tennessee River’s role in the Civil War and visit the Cherry Mansion which served as headquarters for General U.S. Grant in the Spring of 1862. This town also is home to the Haley Burial Site, Alex and Queen Haley, author Alex Haley’s grandparents, are buried here. Savannah is off our route aboput 4 miles east of Crump, TN.

Dover, TN

  • Fort Donelson National Battlefield was the site of the Union’s first major Civil War victory under the command of “unconditional and immediate surrender” Ulysses S. Grant. This Fort was used by runaway slaves as a refuge from 1862-1865. Fugitive slaves worked for the Union Army and found assistance from Union soldiers and religious and charitable organizations. In 1863, it became a recruiting station for black troops. The Battlefield is off route about 1 mile west of the intersection of US 79 and The Trace Road.

Smithland, KY

  • The Gower House was probably built in the late 1700s, and was reputed to have been used as a part of the Underground Railroad in the mid-1800s. Legend says that an underground tunnel connected it to the Massey House, a few blocks away.

UGRR Highlights – Section 3: Owensboro, KY to Milford, OH

Rockport, IL

  • Lincoln Pioneer Village is a historic village just off route. Among the numerous historic buildings is the cabin in which Abraham Lincoln grew up and also on exhibit is Lincoln’s mother’s burial ground, a Living Farm and much more. Tours are by appointment during the week.

New Albany, IN

  • Carnegie Center for Art & History is home to a permanent exhibit, Ordinary People, Extraordinary Courage: Men and Women of the underground Railroad in the Indiana and Kentucky Borderland.

Madison, IN

  • Historic Madison — The area of Madison, known as the Georgetown Neighborhood, was an early African American settlement and important stop on the Underground Railroad after freedom seekers crossed the Ohio River from the slave state of Kentucky. Learn more at the NPS Network to Freedom website.
  • Enjoy the Riverfront Walking Tour of Madison, sponsored by The Cornerstone Society, Inc. PO Box 92, Madison, IN 47250.
  • African Methodist Episcopal Church Building is one of two churches established in an area know as Georgetown. The Church served the community for seventy years and is open by appointment only.
  • Lanier-Schofield House* — built between 1810 and 1817 — was the first two-story brink inn and tavern in town. This historic house is available for touring, call 812-265-4759 for more information. Also visit the * Lanier Mansion State Historic Site.
  • More in Madison, currently not open to the public, but worth cycling by and reading about! Visit the NPS Network to Freedom program to learn more.
  • Lyman Hoyt House
  • Dr. Samuel Tibbets Home
  • Isaiah Walton Home
  • John H. Tibbets Home

Lancaster, IN

  • Historic Eleutherian College was founded in 1848 and stands as a monument to the people who established it in the name of education, the arts, and equality without regard to race or gender. This institution served as a antislavery stronghold in the pre-civil war era and was founded by Rev. Thomas Craven who dreamed of a place that whites and blacks, men and women could attend classes together. It is part of the NPS Network to Freedom program and has a visitor center located adjacent to the college building. The visitor center features exhibits and information about the history of the College and the village of Lancaster, near Madison.
  • John Gill and Martha Wilson Craven Home* — another member of the NPS Network to Freedom program — Thomas Craven and his son, John Gill Craven helped start the Eleutherian Institute in 1848 which later became the College in 1854. This school, known as an “abolition school” excited opposition and John and Martha Craven opened their home to black students and freedom seekers.

Augusta, KY

  • Along the route near Augusta, KY, cyclists will have the opportunity to see a host of sites and homes associated with the Underground Railroad.
  • Doctor Perkins was a free person of color living in Augusta. He was charged with enticing slaves to seek their freedom. Found guilty, he was sentenced to the Kentucky State Penitentiary where he later died.
  • Reynold’s Mansion and Slave Quarters — This home was built by slave labor in 1855 and the slave quarters still exist as a garage. William H. Reynolds sold his slaves prior to Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.
  • Taliaferro Home is a plantation style home that illustrates what living prior to 1865 might have been like. After the September, 1862 Battle of Augusta, one of General Morgan’s troops died at this site.
  • Home of Nan Bass — Home to the Wm. Taylor Asbury family and slave, Nancy Jane Spencer, who became a local heroine as a nurse and mid-wife.
  • Shockey Hideaway — A home built by Samuel Shockey has a hidden area under the front hall which is said to have been a place slaves were kept safe before being moved on the Underground Railroad.
  • Buckhanan Home was at one time the original stage coach station and the oldest structure in the Germantown area.
  • Hillsdale Road* was the site of John Gregg Fee’s school and church which held early integrated services. Fee, who began his anti-slavery career at Augusta College and graduated at Lane Seminary preached diligently against slavery. Eventually he was banished from Kentucky and his churches were burned. Fee is considered Kentucky’s most noted abolitionist and founder of Berea College. On the route, you’ll note the Bethesda Cemetery on the right hillside. The Fee farm borders this road. This is the place that Fee’s emancipated slave, Julette Miles, rescued her children from bondage. They were captured on the Ohio River west of Augusta (Rock Springs) waiting to be rowed to freedom. The Fee farm is a NPS Network to Freedom site.
  • Julette Miles Site was the location of John Fee’s school and church which held integrated services. Fee, a student at Augusta Methodist College and Lane Seminary was in charge of young missionaries distributing religious materials in the area. Fee’s emancipated slave, Julette, rescued her children from bondage.
  • General Payne Home* built in circa 1813. Later Dr. Jonathan Bradford lived here. Newspaper accounts of the time report it as a safe house and Dr. Bradford was know to have ties to Arthur Thome, an area conductor.
  • White Hall*, part of the Network to Freedom program, is a grand mansion that was home to conductors Arthur and James A. Thome. Built by slave labor circa 1809 before Thome freed his slaves in the 1830’s. Arthur became a conductor before leaving Augusta in 1842. James became a Lane Seminary debater/rioter and Oberlin College graduate where in 1839, he fled after leading Judah, a female slave living with the local Chalfont family, on the Underground Railroad. James wrote Emancipation of the West Indies at White Hall and co-authored a book with the famous Theodore Weld.
  • Fee and Gragston Historical Marker recognizes Fee, an abolitionist, and Gragston, a conductor on the Underground Railroad.
  • Slave Jail — Pinecrest Farm’s barn contained the “jail” with barred windows and chains used to secure Africans waiting to be shipped down river to Natchez, MS. This “jailhouse” has been removed and restored and is now a focal point at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, OH.

Washington, KY

  • In Historic Washington see the historic attractions and learn about Old Washington and the Underground Railroad.
  • The Harriet Beecher Stowe Slavery to Freedom Museum displays slavery artifacts and Civil War memorabilia, period furnishing and chronicles the life of Ms. Stowe, author of the book “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”
  • The Kentucky Gateway Museum Center* transports visitors through time as it tells the story of the region through dioramas and exhibits.

Maysville, KY

  • Maysville, KY is home to the The National Underground Railroad Museum at the Bierbower House, which was a documented safe house and provides a view of the original kitchen and slave quarters where fugitive slaves were hidden under false floors.

Ripley, OH

  • Ripley, Ohio is also known as “Freedom’s Landing.” This community was well known for abolitionist activity and was a major station on the Underground Railroad.
  • John Rankin House was home to the Rankin Family who moved hundreds of freedom seekers along the Underground Railroad, including the woman who inspired “Eliza,” the fictional heroine of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
  • John Parker House — After purchasing his freedom, John Parker became one of the most daring conductors on the Underground Railroad, sneaking across the Ohio River to aid freedom seekers.

Clermont County, OH

  • Clermont County’s Freedom Trail lists a number of Freedom Stations which are part of the NPS Network to Freedom program. You can learn more about these sites by downloading a Freedom Trail brochure from the county’s website. The following sites are along the Underground Railroad Bicycle Route.
    • Marcus Sims — Huber Tannery, Williamsburg
    • Charles B Huber Home Site, Williamsburg
    • Dr. Leavitt Thaxter Pease Home, Williamsburg
    • Williamsburg Township Cemetery, Williamsburg
    • Charles B Huber Farm, Williamsburg
    • Brice Blair Home, Batavia
    • John Joliffe & Clermont County Courthouse, Batavia
    • Philip Gatch Burial Site & Greenlawn Cemetery, Milford

Cincinnati, OH

  • The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is home to three pavilions that celebrate courage, cooperation and perseverance. The story of freedom is woven through the heroic legacy of the Underground Railroad and the American struggle to abolish human enslavement and secure freedom for all people.
  • Harriet Beecher Stowe House, 2950 Gilbert Avenue. This house was once home to the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

* Denotes a site not listed on the map.

UGRR Highlights – Section 4: Milford, OH to Erie, PA

Waynesville, OH

Springboro, OH

  • Springboro — Settled by Quakers and home to over 17 Underground Railroad sites. Call the Historical Society 937-748-0916 for a historic walking tour brochure.
  • Wright House Bed & Breakfast — Home to Springfield’s founding father displays authentic slave hiding place and slave artifacts. Call 937-748-0801 to set up a tour.

Xenia, OH

  • Monroe House and the city of Xenia — This town is more than just a bike trail hub.

Wilberforce, OH

Greene County, OH

Columbus, OH

Mt. Vernon, OH

Massillon, OH

  • Spring Hill Historic Home was the home of the Rotch-Wales families from 1821-1973. In the 1820s, the house was used as a station on the Underground Railroad, assisting freedom seekers as they moved north.

Peninsula, OH

Hudson, OH

  • Hudson is home to as many as 19 known Underground Railroad Sites. Download a list of sites from the Hudson Library and Historical Society archives.
  • First Congregational Church was founded by David Hudson. The church split and Owen Brown, John Brown’s father, founded the Free Congregational Church in Hudson. After the Civil War the two churches joined together again.

Burton, OH

  • Century Village has a collection of historic 100+ year old buildings owned and preserved by the Geauga County Historical Society. Take a walk and enjoy.

Jefferson, OH

  • Joshua R. Giddings Law Office* and museum. Open by appointment. U.S. Congressman Giddings was forced to resign after he was censured for speaking on behalf of slaves who mutinied while being transported. Jefferson is off route about 5 miles east of Austinburg, OH.

Ashtabula, OH

Girard, PA

  • Hazel Kibler Museum at 522 E. Main St. This museum features exhibits showcasing local Underground Railroad sites. Also visit nearby Universalist Church, a station on the Underground Railroad. Call 814-774-3653 for directions and more information. Girard is off route about 2 miles south of Lake City, PA.

Erie, PA

  • St. James AME Church. This is the oldest African American church in the city. It was organized in 1874. 814-456-4011.
  • The Erie Maritime Museum & U.S. BRIG NIAGARA focuses on the role of African Americans in the battle of Lake Erie in the War of 1812.

* Denotes a site not listed on the map.

UGRR Highlights – Section 5: Erie, PA to Owen Sound, Ontario, Canada

Dunkirk, NY

Orchard Park, NY

  • Obadiah Baker Homestead and Historical Marker at E. Quaker St. and Baker Rd. This preserved house was a refuge station and part of the Quaker community that spoke out against slavery.

Buffalo, NY

  • For more information about African American history in the Buffalo region visit the Buffalo Niagara Convention and Visitors Bureau
  • Michigan Street Baptist Church, 511 Michigan Ave. This Underground Railroad station is the oldest property continuously owned/operated by African Americans and was part of the history of Buffalo’s African American community.
  • Mary B Talbert Historical Marker lies adjacent to the Church. Talbert was a civil rights leader who helped organize the “Niagara Movement,” which later became the NAACP.
  • J. Edward Nash House, 36 Nash St. Named for the pastor of the Michigan Street Baptist Church who, with Mary Talbert, helped organize the “Niagara Movement”, the forerunner to the NAACP.
  • Motherland Connextions Inc. offers tours about Underground Railroad and slide shows.
  • African American Cultural Center, 350 Masten Ave. Showcases the talents of African American playwrights, directors and actors.
  • Ujima Company, Inc., at 429 Plymouth Ave., Suite 2. A professional theatre company dedicated to the development and presentation of work by African Americans and other third world artists.
  • Broderick Park and Historic Marker. Before the Peace Bridge existed, this was an important launching site for freedom seekers who had been hiding in the Michigan Street Baptist Church, traveling by boat over the narrowest part of the Niagara River to Canada. Every year the Harriet Tubman 300 and the Buffalo Quarters Historical Society run a memorial service at this site to honor conductors who risked their lives to help freedom seekers gain independence in Canada.

Fort Erie, ON

  • Niagara Freedom Trail Plaque describes the ferry system used by freedom seekers to cross the river to Canada. Located southeast of the Peace Bridge near Historic Fort Erie.
  • Dollhouse Museum (Bertie Hall) was a known safe house where smuggling operations were rumored to have taken place using an underground tunnel in the basement. 905-871-5833.
  • Little Africa Plaque at Niagara Parks Commission Marina (formerly Miller’s Bay Marina). This site was originally the export point for lumber coming from “Little Africa,” a settlement established in the 1840s.

Niagara Falls, ON

Queenston, ON

  • Lewiston-Queenston Bridge, known as the “Freedom Crossing”, was used by Harriet Tubman en route from slavery in Maryland to her first home in Ontario in 1849. It became a major route for freedom seekers.
  • Colored Corps Historic Plaque is where the Canadian Black Militia formed at the start of the War of 1812. They assembled here and set the precedent for units established elsewhere in Canada.

Lockport, NY

  • Freedom Run Winery is located on the spur that goes to Murphy Orchards. Freedom Run Winery is owned by the Manning family and celebrates and supports Freedom for all. Their mission is to give back what the land has gracefully given them by producing premium wines and champagne in order to dedicate service to the community and to others.

Newfane, NY

  • Murphy Orchards is on a spur route near Newfane, NY. This privately owned farm was part of the Underground Railroad from 1850-1861. The farmhouse, barn, orchards, and landscape remain as they did 150 years ago, complete with a viewable hiding place in the barn.

Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON

  • Negro Burial Ground Historic Plaque was previously the Calvinistic Baptist Church. John Oakley, a former British soldier, became pastor to the mostly Black congregation.

St. Catharines, ON

  • In 1793, the “Upper Canada Act Against Slavery” was passed, allowing Blacks aged 25 years and older freedom from slavery in Canada. This created a safe haven for African American runaway slaves and made Canada the destination for many who fled. As a result, hundreds of escaped slaves settled in St. Catharines and created a vibrant Black community
  • St. Catharines Museum and Welland Canal Centre, 1932 Welland Canal Pkwy. Experience the rich legacy of Niagara’s African Canadians in the integrated Follow the North Star exhibit.
  • Anthony Burns Grave Site & Victoria Lawn Cemetery. Historic marker honors Rev. Anthony Burns, the last person tried under the Fugitive Slave Act in Massachusetts.
  • Richard Pierpoint Historic Marker in Centennial Park honors Pierpoint’s years of military service to the Crown.
  • The BME Church (Salem Chapel) — Many freedom seekers attended church and meetings at this Church, including Harriet Tubman. The Salem Chapel, British Methodist Episcopal Church was the first Black church in St. Catharines. Originally known as the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the name was changed to reflect their loyalty to the British Empire. Contact Ada Summers 905-984-6769 for more information.

Collingwood, ON

  • Sheffield’s Black Cultural Museum, Long Point Rd. View slave artifacts and learn the history of early Black pioneers who settled this region. The museum is just off route 2 miles west of Collingwood.

Owen Sound, ON

  • Owen Sound developed and grew as freedom seekers settled in the area. Learn more about the freedom seekers who began arriving around 1830 from the Owen Sound Black History website. The City of Owen Sound was first named Sydenham and officially changed the name to Owen Sound in 1857.
  • BME Church served the needs of former slaves arriving on the Underground Railroad and are considered the founders of the Annual Emancipation Festival that takes place the first weekend of August since 1862.
  • Grey Roots Museum & Archives provides a living link for the legacies of the past, artifacts, and stories. See the exhibit From Slavery to Freedom, African Canadians in Grey County.
  • Black History Cairn at Harrison Park. In 2004, this commemorative Cairn, (Cairn defined as “a rounded heap of stones”) was unveiled as a memorial to Owen Sound’s Black settlers.

Recommended Reading, Underground Railroad

Here are a few books that we recommend:

  • Bound for Cannaan, The Underground Railroad and the War for the Soul of America by Fergus M. Bordewich
  • Bound For The Promised Land: Harriet Tubman, Portrait Of An American Hero By Kate Clifford Larson, see also www.harriettubmanbiography.com
  • Beyond the River, The Untold Story of the Heroes of the Underground Railroad by Ann Hagedorn
  • I’ve Got a Home in the Glory Land, A Lost Tale of the Underground Railroad by Karolyn Smardz Frost, see also www.homeingloryland.com
  • The Town that Started the Civil War by Nate Brandt
  • The Underground Railroad in Michigan by Carol E. Mull
  • Underground Railroad Official National Park Handbook includes essays by Larry Gara, Brenda Stevenson and C. Peter Ripley. You may purchase by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, US Govt. Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402-9325
  • Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

For additional reading lists:

  • Friends of Freedom Society – The Ohio Underground Railroad
  • Ottawa Citizen’s Tracks to Freedom,Canada and the Underground Railroad posts a reading list and African American Spirituals sung by Norma Blacke Bourdeau
  • Motherland Connextions, Inc. — A tour company in Niagara, NY that’s done their research!
  • Juvenile Reading List from the National Park Service

Online Reading:

More Route Resources

Recommended Reading

There are a number of books and articles that reveal the true history and stories of the Underground Railroad. View our recommended reading list.

Roots of the Underground Railroad Route

The project was born in 2004 when Adventure Cycling began a partnership with the Center for Health Equity at the University of Pittsburgh to further encourage people from all walks of life and cultural backgrounds to explore America’s landscapes and history by bicycle. Combined with the nation’s burgeoning health crisis, Adventure Cycling and the Center for Health Equity saw a natural alliance with common goals.

Adventure Cycling contacted historians, preservationists, and researchers and asked: “How do you pick a single route that represents thousands of escape routes?”

During this period of slavery, the tribal custom of creating songs to transmit information was used to communicate between slaves from plantation to plantation. Adventure Cycling chose to map the first part of the route guided by the song, “Follow the Drinking Gourd.” This song refers to following the North Star and waterways to the Ohio River — in essence, it describes an escape route from Alabama and Mississippi. Upon reaching the Ohio River, Adventure Cycling relied on the knowledge and efforts of members and outside experts to steer the route to rich historic destinations while maintaining Adventure Cycling’s standards of great cycling roads and paths.

Successfully meeting the goals of the Underground Railroad Bicycle Route continues to depend upon the contribution of volunteers, members, Underground Railroad enthusiasts, historians, health advocates and more.

Core Planning Team

Mario Browne, MPH, CHES; Chuck Harmon; Anthony Ratajczak; Todd Scott; Stephen Thomas PhD

Advisory Board, Main Route

Jonas Chaney, broadcast veteran; Dr. Randall R. Cottrell, Texas A&M University; Wes Dean, division administrator for the Traffic Engineering Division, Jackson, Mississippi; Laurence Glasco, associate professor of history, University of Pittsburgh; Katherine Kraft, independent consultant in environmental and policy approaches to promoting healthy lifestyles; Keith Laughlin, president, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy; Sarah (Jameela) Martin; Barbara Murock, health policy specialist, Executive Office of the Allegheny County Department of Human Services; George Needham, vice president for member services, OCLC Online Computer Library Center in Dublin, Ohio; Jim Rotch, corporate attorney and partner at Bradley, Arant, Rose & White, LLP & author of The Birmingham Pledge & Chair, Birmingham Pledge Foundation; Becky J. Smith Ph.D., CHES, CAE, executive director, American Association for Health Education and vice president of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance; Floyd Thomas, Jr., chief of the Curatorial/Exhibitions Division, National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center in Wilberforce, Ohio; Catherine Walker, vice president, general counsel, and corporate secretary, REI.

Advisory Board, Detroit Alternate

Barb Bickel, executive director, Visit Lorain County; Nancy Darga, managing director, MotorCities National Heritage Area; Deborah Johnson, clinical therapist; Joe Levin, board member, Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance; Carol E. Mull, author of The Underground Railroad in Michigan; Joseph D.R. Tanner, administrative generalist and educational outreach specialist, The Hub of Detroit; Kimberly L. Simmons, founding president and executive director, Quarlls Watkins Heritage Project; Leslie C. Strong Williams, president, Fred Hart Williams Genealogical Society; Kathryn Underwood, city planner, Detroit Planning Commission.

Auxiliary Members and Advisors

Richard Bailey, PhD, University of Kentucky; professor of history, Canisius College, Buffalo, NY; Don Burrel, bike/ped coordinator, OKI Regional Council of Governments; Anthony Cohen, founder and president, Menare Foundation; Sonja Cropper, economic development and tourism director, Brown County, OH; Jim Coppock, Bicycle Transportation Program, Dept. of Transportation, Cincinnati, OH; Betha Gutsche, WebJunction community associate, Seattle, WA; Rose Hall, Major Taylor Association, Worcester, MA; Cathy Nelson, founder, Friends of Freedom Society, OH; Dennis Scott, director, Owen Sound Annual Emancipation Day Festival; Guy Washington, regional coordinator, The National Park Service Network to Freedom Program.


Note that there are no bike shops on the route north of Mobile, AL.

Ride defensively in Mobile and stay on the route leaving downtown. Bicyclists are prohibited in the Bankhead and George C. Wallace tunnels, so you must loop northward over the Cochrane-Africatown Bridge. Northbound cyclists should take care not to follow the big ramp that is the Truck Route 90/98 when crossing under I-10 before Mobile Bay, this will lead you onto the interstate. Follow the road to the right to ride across Mobile Bay on U.S. 90/98.

Between Spanish Fort and Grove Hill, the highways are good for bicyclists, but note that there are few services.

SR 12/U.S. 84 between Perdue Hill and Grove Hill carries a fair amount of traffic, including logging trucks. There is a 3-foot shoulder, though 2 feet of it has a rumble strip. Stay alert on this section and ride defensively. We recommend that you do not ride SR 12/U.S. 84 between Grove Hill and Coffeeville due to the lack of shoulders.

Between Grove Hill and Jackson, there is an alternate that is 12.4 miles shorter than the main route, but it contains a 1.5 mile section of gravel. The roadbed is a combination of dirt/clay and gravel, and when dry, is an acceptable road for touring bikes. If it is wet, loaded bikes can be difficult to maneuver.

From Jackson north, the roadways are a mixture of rural county roads and state highways, with intermittent traffic. South of Coatopa, use caution as SR 8/U.S. 80 join the route for 5.6 miles and there can be heavy traffic.

In Mississippi the route is on mainly state highways with intermittent traffic and good surfaces. Use caution when riding through Columbus, especially during commuting hours. From Columbus to West Point, SR 50 has little to no shoulders, and traffic is heavy. Make sure that vehicles can see you. Between West Point and Aberdeen, pavement on the county roads has deteriorated. Expect sections of gravel. Riding north into Amory, use caution as U.S. 278 joins the route for 5.5 miles and carries truck traffic.


In broad terms, the climate of Alabama and Mississippi is determined by the huge land mass to the north, the subtropical latitude, and the Gulf of Mexico to the south. The summers are long, hot and humid, with little day-to-day temperature changes. The high humidity, combined with hot days and nights, produces discomfort at times.

Prevailing southerly winds provide a moist, semitropical climate, with conditions often favorable for afternoon thunderstorms. These thunderstorms, which can be accompanied by locally violent and destructive winds, can provide a nice respite from the oppressive heat. Thunderstorms occur approximately a third of the evenings from late June through the middle of August.

Both Mississippi and Alabama are occasionally in the path of tropical storms or hurricanes during the time period from June through November.

Updated: Sep 28, 2020


While much of this route follows the Tennessee and Ohio rivers, expect to climb and descend often on roller coaster hills. The services between “all service” towns are limited and many of the grocery stores you’ll encounter are more of the convenience store variety. Stock up on food and water when you can, and beware of loose dogs.

Riding north out of Fulton, MS, the roads are hilly, winding, narrow and lightly traveled to where the route joins the Natchez Trace Parkway for 10 miles. The Shiloh National Military Parkhas a Visitor Center relating the battle history of this site.

North of Pineview, TN, the route follows a section of back roads with little or no shoulder. However, the hilly and winding nature of them keeps the posted speeds lower and traffic light. Many of these roads are unsigned but you are likely to spot sign posts where they used to be named. The surface of Cuba Landing Rd. is in poor condition, watch for potholes.

Services between Crump and Waverly are sparse so stock up on food and water when you can.

Traveling southbound, there are several signs for Old SR 76 making it difficult to find. You’ll want to watch your mileages closely to find the right one. Throughout Kentucky, roads will have rumble strips on the shoulders reducing room to ride. Use caution when taking the lane on these roads. U.S. 79 west of Dover has wide paved shoulders and heavy traffic. Many of the services for Dover can be found within a mile or two of the junction of U.S. 79 and The Trace Road.

The Trace Road through the Land Between the Lakes Recreation Area (LBTL) is a two-lane road with no shoulders and light to moderate traffic. No commercial vehicles are allowed and a 45 mph speed limit is strictly enforced.

Campgrounds in the LBTL are on a first come, first served basis and fill quickly on summer weekends, you will want to check availability at the North or South Welcome Center when entering. Recreational traffic increases from the North Welcome Center through Grand Rivers to south of I-24.

For cyclists traveling southbound, the hill on McMurray Rd./SR 763 is a very steep downhill from McGrew Rd. to the junction with River Rd./SR 137. Use extra caution. From the LBTL to Henderson, KY, the roads continue to be narrow, winding and sometimes hilly. Watch for the occasional stretch of rumble strips along the shoulders. If camping at J.J. Audobon State Park in Henderson, be extremely careful on the 0.5 mi. of busy, truck-laden U.S. 41 you need to ride to reach the entrance.

While the route from Henderson to Owensboro has a lot of twists and turns, we recommend it over U.S. 60 due to U.S. 60’s rumble strips, lack of shoulders and moderate to high traffic volume.


Though this region is continental in character, systems from the Gulf of Mexico provide moist tropical air which contributes to high humidity throughout the summer months. Temperatures drop as elevation increases. Afternoon summer thunderstorms are typical and are sometimes accompanied by high winds and hail. Most of this area lies in the Mississippi River drainage except for northern Kentucky.

Updated: Dec 22, 2017


The backroads on this section tend to be hilly, and in some instances, can be quite steep. Also note that many of the roads in Kentucky have rumble strips cut into the shoulder, so ride with caution. We have heard reports that encounters with dogs in Kentucky can be a frequent occurance. Be prepared. You may wish to read a blog post on the topic, How to Deal with Dog Encounters at advcy.link/dogs. Services are sporadic along the entire route; buy supplies when available.

As you ride northward from Owensboro to Brandenburg, the route closely follows the scenic Ohio River much of the time. When riding northbound into New Albany, Indiana there are several steep downgrades. (Conversely, when traveling southbound, these are steep uphills that may need to be walked.) Once on 10th St., be sure to notice the view across the Ohio River of Louisville, Kentucky. Buoys in the water help distinguish where freedom seekers might have crossed on their way to freedom. Leaving town will be up and over the flood wall along the river. If you wish to visit Louisville, The Big Four Pedestrian Bridge with access from Riverside Dr. and Mulberry St., is a good way to do so.

The roads from New Albany to Hanover first follow the river then head inland to the countryside before returning to the river. They tend to be pleasant though narrow and a bit winding. Traffic volume is generally low except for commuters in the morning and late afternoon.

Madison, Indiana is a historic river town with a trolley system for touring the city. The route from Madison to Williamsburg, OH continues to be on small, winding roads with mostly light traffic. The roads tend to follow ridgelines affording scenic views along the way. Maysville, Kentucky is another hilly river town with some “seriously steep” sections. The bridge crossing the Ohio River to Aberdeen, Ohio has a pedestrian sidewalk on the west side. It is adviseable to walk your bike across using it.

The 16.2-mile Cincinnati Spur brings you to the heart of the city and the front doors of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. “Post and ring” bicycle parking is available on both the east and west sides of the building. The routing in and out of the city varies slightly to take advantage of the pleasant riding through Eden Park. You will also find access to the Purple People Bicycle Pedestrian bridge through the riverfront parks. If you ride to the center of the bridge, you will be rewarded with expansive views of the city.


Kentucky is in the path of rains originating in the western Gulf and as such can be wet from spring to fall. Spring is typically the wettest season in both Indiana and Ohio though the fall tends to be drier. Summer along the Ohio River in Indiana can include high temperatures with high relative humidity. Weather patterns in Ohio are continental in nature producing warm, humid summers.

Updated: Apr 4, 2019


The majority of the route on this section follows the Ohio to Erie Trail (OTET), a primarily off-street recreational trail that mostly follows lands formerly owned by railroads and canals. The OTET is also known as Route 1 in Ohio and is signed as such. Our routing follows the OTET from Milford to Peninsula, with the exception of several miles in Columbus where it deviates. Signage for the trail is spotty. See advcy.link/oherietrl for maps and more information.

The OTET is comprised of many different trails, including the Little Miami Scenic Trail, Prairie Grass Trail, Roberts Pass Trail, Camp Chase Trail, Scioto Greenway, Heart of Ohio Trail, Kokosing Gap Trail, Mohican Valley Trail, Holmes County Trail, Sippo Valley Trail, and the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail. These are all paved paths, with the exception of portions of the Sippo Valley Trail and the Ohio to Erie Canal Towpath Trail that are crushed stone. These trails have multiple users, and can be busy on weekends. Trail etiquette dictates that you should show courtesy to other trail users at all times. As a cyclist, you should yield to pedestrians, give an audible warning when passing pedestrians or other bicyclists, ride at a safe speed, and if traveling with others, slow down and form a single file in congested conditions.

West of Corwin, the 9.9-mile Springboro Spur is an easy side trip to many Underground Railroad sites of interest.

At Xenia Station in Xenia there are restrooms and vending machines. You can access restaurants by heading 0.5-mile northwest on the Creekside Trail. Here’s a link to a bike map for the Great Miami Riverway Alternate, advcy.link/gmra, which forms a loop with the route joining Corwin, Springboro, Dayton, and Xenia.

In Columbus, the route deviates from the OTET to follow the Olentangy Trail, advcy.link/olntgytrl, which was recommended by several local cyclists.

There are several areas where the recreational trails that make up the OTET are interrupted, requiring some cycling on city streets or local highways. Most notable are the 10 miles between Sunbury and Centerburg, the 8 miles between Glenmont and Killbuck, and the 17 miles between Fredericksburg and Dalton.

The route leaves the OTET in Peninsula and heads northeast through small towns and rural farmland on back roads. You’ll approach Ashtabula on the Western Reserve Greenway, advcy.link/westresgreen, a paved rail trail through farmland and forest.

Leaving Ashtabula, you will cycle alongside Lake Erie. SR 531 has minimal to no shoulders, but carries only local traffic. Ashtabula and Conneaut are easy towns to cycle through.

In Pennsylvania the route follows a signed bike route using SR 5. Many services are located in the towns on U.S. 20 which parallels SR 5. Traffic increases when approaching Erie.

U.S. Bicycle Route (USBR) 30 in Ohio is pending for designation in summer 2021. Our routing is concurrent with it from Ashtabula to Erie. After designation, more information and maps will be available at: advcy.link/ohusbr. In Pennsylvania, USBR 30 is designated and also follows signed BicyclePA Z. For more information and maps see: advcy.link/pausbr30.

All known Amtrak stations are listed on this map but not all stations provide bicycle service. Check if bicycle service is provided at both the starting and ending stations on your trip using the spreadsheet and other trip planning resources at advcy.link/amtrak.


Located west of the Appalachians, Ohio has a climate essentially continental in nature, characterized by moderate extremes of heat and cold, and wetness and dryness. Summers are moderately warm and humid, with occasional days when temperatures exceed 100 degrees; winters are reasonably cold; and autumns are predominately cool, dry, and invigorating.

Precipitation is well distributed, though with peaks in early spring and summer. Rainfall varies considerably in amount and seasonal distribution. This is accounted for not only by the presence of Lake Erie to the north, but also by topography and proximity to rain producing storm paths. The southern half of the state is visited more frequently by productive rainstorms which, together with the general roughness of terrain, accounts for the larger total precipitation.

Climate information from Weather America, A Thirty Year Summary of Statistical Weather Data and Rankings,2001, 2nd edition,Grey House Publishing, Millerton, NY.

Updated: Aug 2, 2021


The route through Erie is on less-traveled city streets, but traffic increases east of the city. Note that many services are actually located in the towns on US 20, which parallels SR 5. A fruit and wine region begins east of Erie and stretches past Silver Creek, New York. Wineries also exist in the area to the east and west of St. Catharines, Ontario. Almost all of the state and US highways and many county roads in New York have wide paved shoulders, so riding will be pleasant. The route into downtown Buffalo is fairly direct, but expect urban conditions and ride defensively. The 0.6-mile Michigan Ave. Spur goes to some Underground Railroad sites. A nicely paved but poorly signed bike path extends from the Buffalo Naval Park to the Peace Bridge and into Canada. Use caution when approaching the bridge from either direction. Due to construction, bike traffic rules on the bridge keep changing so please check with a bridge or customs official before riding on it.

From Fort Erie to Niagara-on-the-Lake the route mainly uses the Niagara River Recreation Trail and short portions of the Niagara Parkway along the scenic Niagara River. Use the Trail where possible for safety. The route near the Falls is extremely busy in summer, but all traffic and pedestrians are moving slowly, so you will be also. Walk your bike in the Falls area if necessary, and remember to lock your bike if leaving it unattended. Throughout Ontario the route will be traversing the Niagara Escarpment, so expect climbs and descents. This will provide a challenge for the fully loaded cyclist, especially when going off route for services or exploration. Traffic will increase in towns and the larger cities, so ride defensively.

Between Georgetown and Orangeville you can choose to ride a 5.5-mile section of the Caledon Trailway, advcy.link/caledon, an unpaved rail trail that can be muddy when wet.

Between Orangeville and Collingwood services are minimal. Most roads have small shoulders with light to moderate levels of traffic.

Beginning in Collingwood the route uses a 9-mile stretch of the Georgian Trail, advcy.link/georgiantrl. It is hard compacted stone dust and can be ridden with any tires. The Trail parallels PR 26, a highly trafficked road with little or no shoulders, so use the Trail for safety, especially in summer.

The 31.1-mile Murphy Orchards Spur crosses the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge back into the U.S. Use caution when approaching the bridge from either direction. Since the bridge was rebuilt in 2006 bicycles now cross in the car lanes. We suggest you check with a bridge or customs official before riding onto it for instructions.

All known Amtrak stations are listed on this map but not all stations provide bicycle service. Check if bicycle service is provided at both the starting and ending stations on your trip using the spreadsheet and other trip planning resources at advcy.link/amtrak.


The weather of western Pennsylvania and New York originates in the interior of the continent, then rides over this area on prevailing winds. The results are “moderate extremes” of heat and cold, dryness, and wetness.

In southern Ontario, the climate is highly modified by the influence of the Great Lakes. Spring brings the beginning of the tornado season. In summer, thunderstorms can produce heavy downpours, hail, damaging winds and occasional tornadoes.

Updated: Mar 26, 2021


Many Underground Railroad activities historically took place in what were then villages and small towns, which became large cities. Due to this growth, the route passes through several major metropolitan areas and involves serious urban cycling. They are generally devoid of campgrounds.

The route in Ohio makes use of two paved rail trails: the Northcoast Inland Trail between Oberlin and Kipton, and again between Clyde and Elmore, and the University Trail in the suburbs of Toledo. These trails are shorter and safer than adjacent highways.

After crossing the Maumee River into Toledo, cyclists immediately ride onto busy urban streets. During periods of heavy traffic, rather than using the left turn lane from Cherry St. onto N. Superior St., it may be advisable to make the turn as a pedestrian using the crosswalks.

The route changes dramatically from urban to rural at the Ohio/Michigan state line. Cyclists are advised to stay on the marked route in rural Michigan as there are many unpaved secondary roads. Also, the state and U.S. highways carry considerable truck traffic and do not have paved shoulders. The route uses the Kiwanis Trail between Adrian and Tecumseh. The roads and highways between Ypsilanti and Detroit are busy suburban arterials and require caution. In Detroit, bicycles are not allowed on the Ambassador Bridge or in the Detroit/Windsor Tunnel.

Michigan does not allow left turns at signalized intersections from a highway having a center median. Instead, left turning traffic proceeds a couple hundred yards beyond the intersection and then makes a U-turn at a sometimes-signalized crossover. Cyclists should make left turns as a pedestrian. The route attempts to avoid such highways.

The ferry between Algonac, MI and Walpole Island, ON operates from 7 A.M. to 10 P.M. For details go to advcy.link/walpolealgonacferry or call 519-627-7978.

The 14.8-mile Sandusky Spur is the connection to the ferry across Lake Erie to Ontario, Canada, and the Windsor Option on the Detroit Alternate, Section 2. For schedules call 519-326-2154 or 519-733-4474 or go to advcy.link/ontferry.

Sandusky is home to Cedar Point, one of the largest amusement parks in the country, and is therefore a busy summer tourist destination. Bicycles are not allowed on the Cedar Point Causeway and Bridge.

The route avoids highways with tourist traffic. Do not use SR 2 as a shortcut between Sandusky and Toledo. Cyclists are advised to make accommodation reservations in Sandusky.

All known Amtrak stations are listed on this map but not all stations provide bicycle service. Check if bicycle service is provided at both the starting and ending stations on your trip using the spreadsheet and other trip planning resources at advcy.link/amtrak.


Located west of the Appalachians, Ohio has a climate essentially continental in nature, characterized by moderate heat and humidity near the lake in the summer. Rainfall varies considerably in amount and distribution, with many afternoon thunderstorms in the summer. This is accounted for not only by the presence of Lake Erie to the north, but also by topography and proximity to rain producing storm paths.

During the summer months in Michigan, winds are predominantly from the southwest. While prevailing winds are generally light, Lake Erie’s and Lake St. Clair’s shore area frequently develops a localized wind pattern known as the “lake breeze,” which may extend inland for a few miles. Summer precipitation falls primarily in the form of showers or thunderstorms. Humidity can be high year-round, peaking in the summer, when temperatures reach the mid-eighties. Temperatures tend to be more moderate along the lakes and warmer inland.

Climate information from Weather America, A Thirty Year Summary of Statistical Weather Data and Rankings, 2001, 2nd edition, Grey House Publishing, Millerton, NY.

Updated: Nov 9, 2020


Although none of the major highways in Ontario have paved shoulders, the speed limit outside of urban areas is 80 km/hr (50 mph) and motorists generally abide by that limit.

Rural secondary roads throughout southwest Ontario are often gravel. The route has been carefully researched to avoid those roads. What may look like a tempting shortcut down a paved road may become a miserable ride on a gravel road. Cyclists are advised to stay on the route.

It is worthwhile to spend a few minutes in Sarnia at the park under the Blue Water Bridge connecting Canada and the United States. This is where all of the water from the upper Great Lakes funnels into the narrow St. Clair River. Bicycles are not allowed on the Blue Water Bridge.

North of Sarnia the route goes inland to avoid the relatively heavy vehicle and truck traffic on PR 21. This highway is the major tourist and commercial route between Sarnia and Owen Sound. The consequence of this routing is that there are few on-route services outside of towns and cities. Cyclists wishing to use services on PR 21 should return to the route to continue their trip and not use PR 21 as a shortcut.

Southwest of Port Elgin the 0.75-mile unpaved Rotary Way Trail, advcy.link/rwtrl, can be ridden through varied forest and wetland habitat.

The 162.1-mile Windsor Option follows the coastline of Lake Erie and provides views of the lake and especially the Detroit River. You need to consult the ferry schedule, advcy.link/ontferry, before crossing Lake Erie as the schedule varies by month and day of the week. Ferries arrive and depart from Kingsville or Leamington at different times of the year. All ferries to Canada from Sandusky, Ohio, shown on the Underground Railroad Detroit Alternate section 1 map, stop at Pelee Island which is the Port of Entry/Customs to Canada. Sandusky is the Port of Entry/Customs to the United States.

In Windsor, the multi-use path between the Ambassador Bridge and the north side of the city is embedded in a riverfront park and is very pleasant cycling. The Underground Railroad Monument is situated in a small park set back from the river on Pitt St. E. and is best accessed by exiting the multi-use path at Ouellette Ave. The section of Riverside Dr. between McDougall St. and Isabella Pl. is heavily trafficked, but has low speed limits. For a bike map of Windsor, see advcy.link/Windsorbikemap.

Bicycles are not allowed on the Ambassador Bridge or in the Detroit Windsor Tunnel. Transit Windsor operates a cross-border service through the Windsor Detroit Tunnel, seven days a week. Read the restrictions here: advcy.link/detwintunnel.

You’ll also ride the Ganatchio Trail, advcy.link/gtrl, and the Waterfront Trail, advcy.link/wtrl.

The route along the St. Clair Parkway is immediately adjacent to the St. Clair River and affords views of ocean and lake freighters on the St. Clair River. The Windsor Option rejoins the main route at Sombra.


In southern Ontario, the climate is highly modified by the influence of the Great Lakes, and is often the battle zone between cold air from the north and warm, moist air from southern regions; hence, air is channelled east-west.

Spring brings the beginning of the tornado season. In summer, thunderstorms can produce heavy downpours, hail, damaging winds and occasional tornadoes.

Updated: Jan 2, 2019


This spur begins in downtown Pittsburgh and becomes progressively more rural as the miles pass until you arrive in Erie.

If you are flying in or out of Pittsburgh International Airport, there is an online map that shows the Montour Trail Airport Connector. The Montour Trail will take you to the route in Coraopolis, linkup.shaw-weil.com/airport connector.htm.

After crossing the Ohio River in Pittsburgh, the route follows the North Shore Trail, an urban, sometimes busy path for cyclists and walkers that offers wide views of the city and its industry — old and new.

In places, this spur coincides with stretches of Bicycle Pennsylvania Routes A and Z. Route A is well signed on the road.

When traveling southbound through Rochester toward Monaca and before crossing the Ohio River, be sure to study the ramp structure. If you miss the ramp onto SR 18, you will ride onto SR 51/65 without an opportunity to rejoin the route until east of the bridge.

South of Ellwood City, River Rd. has some potholes and occasional errant golf balls from the nearby course. SR 65 from Ellwood City to Energy has a rumble strip installed on the white line and no shoulder—ride with caution.SR 65 from Ellwood City to New Castle has good shoulders, moderate hills and a 45 mph speed limit. North of New Castle, River Rd. has some potholes and little to no shoulders in places.

Northwest of Meadville, SR 98 carries very little traffic and is rural in nature with few services. Between Meadville and Fairview, there are few services. Traffic volumes increase as you approach Erie, especially during commuting hours.

Road signage the entire length of the Pittsburgh Spur route is sporadic and at times inconsistent.


Though most of the state is influenced to some degree by the humid continental climate effect, the western third of Pennsylvania where this route is located is a distinct geographical region and experiences this effect in a fairly typical fashion.

Precipitation is greatest in spring and summer with thunderstorms responsible for the numerous, oftentimes brief, summertime rain showers. Daily temperature ranges can be wide.

While tornadoes are only an occasional event, the state experiences 5-6 a year, they occur most frequently in the far northwest corner and most often in June.

The Lake Erie Plain near the end of the route is influenced by Lake Erie with slightly less rain and smaller daily temperature ranges.

Updated: Dec 29, 2017

Updates to Recently Released Maps

If you are planning a bike tour, be sure to get the most recent map updates and corrections for your route by selecting the route, and the appropriate section(s), from the drop-down menu below.

Over time maps become less useful because things change. Every year Adventure Cycling’s Routes and Mapping Department create map updates and corrections for every map in the Adventure Cycling Route Network, which now totals 52,047 miles. With the help of touring cyclists like you, we receive updates on routing, services, camping, and contact information. Until we can reprint the map with the new information, we verify the suggested changes and publish corrections and updates here on our website.

PLEASE NOTE: Covid has been particularly hard on the small businesses along our routes. While we do our best to keep the maps and these online updates current, you may encounter more closed businesses and longer stretches with limited or no services.

Refer to these updates for the most current information we have and submit reports of changes to the Route Feedback Form for the cyclists coming after you.

NOTE: Map updates and corrections only pertain to long term changes and updates. For short term road closures, please see the Adventure Cycling’s Routes Temporary Road Closures discussion in our Forums.