More than eight years and 1,418 miles after first setting foot on the Buckeye Trail, Randall Roberts finished his journey Saturday.
Roberts, an Oberlin city engineer, led a group of 23 hikers down Griggs Road in Wellington toward Findley State Park — the final 11-mile portion of his long trek he’s devoted weekends to since late 2008.
“I usually do one weekend a month,” he said. “I do 10 or 15 miles on Saturday and another 10 or 15 on Sunday. The group here today is rather large by our standards. This is my first time hiking anything of this scale.”
The Buckeye Trail began as in an idea in 1958 to clear a pathway from Cincinnati to Lake Erie. In 1967, it was designated Ohio’s official hiking trail and remains the nation’s longest looped trail that’s confined to one state.
The trail’s path through locations such as Hocking Hills, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, and many longstanding small towns attract both outdoor and history enthusiasts. The northernmost access point is located in Headlands Beach State Park east of Cleveland, with alternate paths stretching to the southern tip in Cincinnati’s Eden Park.
A nonstop journey on the trail takes about three months to complete, with most hikers finishing in about four to five years.
“Only around a dozen people have competed the trail in one fell swoop,” said Roberts. “We had someone just complete it in just over three years, which is pretty fast.”
He said the hike was relatively calm aside from a few flooded paths.
“There was a lot of walking down muddy four-wheeler trails,” he said. “We just kind of avoided it as much as we could. There was nothing that really threw off the rhythm of the hike or that was significantly impeding.”
If you want to get started as a hiker and build endurance for other strenuous activities, Roberts said to start small and don’t get discouraged if initial progress comes slowly.
“Do what you can,” he said. “Some people do five miles, then seven, then 10 and before you know it, you’re doing 20-mile days. Some people find their limit and don’t like to do more than 10. That’s OK too. There’s people in their 70s hiking with us today. It’s never too late.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.