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ODOT aerial photos show the footprint of the newly-paved Wilkshire Trail at  Lawrence Township's River Community Park. The park is located at 11200 Glenpark Rd NE, just off of state Route 212, south of Bolivar. (Adam Holdsworth, Ohio Department of Transportation)  

LAWRENCE TOWNSHIP (Tusco TV) - Area walkers and bikers now have another place to visit in the northern part of the county.

The new Wilkshire Trail opened last week south of Bolivar at the Lawrence Township River Park. Trustee Matt Ritterbeck says the more than two-mile-long paved loop is a good alternative for people who aren’t comfortable using some of the other trails in the area.

"Some people in the community for safety purposes if they’re alone they might feel a little insecure going out on the Towpath Trail where some parts of the surface are uneven or just not as safe for maybe some of the elderly folks or some of the folks who are out using it by themselves so this gives our community another option," he says.

Ritterbeck says the trail goes around the basketball courts, then continues along the riverbank and under state Route 212 before looping back around. He says one of the next projects will be figuring out how to link it up with the Towpath Trail system.  

"The goal is to see if we can get a plan together first to connect it from Hess Mill down through the rest of our township, down through the village of Zoar and around the Zoar Wetland Arboretum and then down toward the river to where it would like up at the iron bridge," he says.

The Ohio Department of Transportation managed the approximately $800,000 project and covered 75 percent of the cost through a Transportation Alternatives grant. Ritterbeck says another $120,000 in grants from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources brought the local share down to around $65,000, paid for using community benefit and bed tax money.