893 views • posted 08/12/2022 • updated 09/15/2023
The Little Miami State Park is a 50-mile rail-trail paralleling the Little Miami River in southwestern Ohio.
Designated in 2022
• View more details for this trail
in the NRT Database
• Learn about the NRT Program.
The Little Miami Scenic Trail is the longest paved, rail-trail in the United States, stretching for 76 miles from Terrace Park, Ohio in the south to Springfield, Ohio in the north. The Little Miami State Park represents 50 of those miles.
The Little Miami Scenic Park is located within the beautiful and historic Little Miami River Valley. The Little Miami is a designated federal and state scenic river. It is protected because of its high water quality, panoramic setting, and the many historic sites that can be found along its banks.
A trail meanders with the river through four counties encountering rolling farm country, towering cliffs, steep gorges, and forests along the way. This steep gorge offers evidence of the erosional forces of glacial meltwater. Outcroppings of limestone and shale are now exposed. Mammoth sycamores border the river's edge where great blue herons reside. Because of the relatively cool sheltered climate in the gorge, eastern hemlocks and Canada yew can survive here.
Birdwatchers delight in the abundance and variety of colorful warblers and other songbirds in the park. The shaded slopes offer a variety of woodland wildflowers for visitors to enjoy. More than 340 species of wildflowers are known in the river's corridor. Virginia bluebells, bellworts, wild ginger, and wild columbines are only a few to be seen in the park.
This area was inhabited by the Miami Indians and the Shawnee. After the War of 1812, the Indian threat dissipated and the area attracted settlers. Numerous mills were developed on the river bank and several still stand today. Clifton Mill near Yellow Springs is still in operation. By the mid-1800s, the river corridor was bustling with grist mills, textile mills, stagecoach trails, and a railroad line. Indian mounds and relics, historic buildings, grist mills, and stagecoach trails can still be found in this historic river valley. The Little Miami Scenic Park became a state park in 1979.
In 1836 the LMRR Railroad was chartered to connect Cincinnati OH and Xenia OH. The LMRR figured prominently in our nation's history. In 1860 president-elect Abraham Lincoln rode the LMRR from Springfield, Illinois to his inauguration in Washington D.C. During the Civil War, Morgan's Raiders captured a Union troop train and made the troops walk back to Camp Dennison. And in both World War I and World War II, the LMRR transported ammunition from Peters Cartridge in Kings Mills to the various theaters of conflict. To this day you will see along the Trail railroad artifacts as well as artifacts from the Civil War, World War I, and World War II. The Friends of the Little Miami State Park are active in restoring and preserving these artifacts.
Work to convert the LMRR into the present-day state park began in 1981 with the final Terrace Park leg being completed in 2005. Today's trail goes through four Ohio counties (Hamilton, Clermont, Warren, and Greene) and 11 jurisdictions (Terrace Park, Milford, Camp Dennison, Miamiville, Loveland, Fosters, Morrow, Oregonia, Corwin/Waynesville, Spring Valley, Xenia).
Today the Little Miami State Park is the gateway trail between the trail systems in the south (Cincinnati and the surrounding area) and the trail systems in the north (Dayton, Columbus, and Cleveland). Trail usage in 2020 was 2.3 million based on current and historical electronic trail counters strategically placed along the trail. The trail is maintained by the non-profit, Friends of the Little Miami State Park.