Biking the Back Roads of Holmes County, Ohio
Holmes County has become a leading tourist destination in Ohio, and congested traffic on the state highways diminishes appreciation of the beauty of peaceful hills and valleys.
Rolling along the quieter back roads on a bicycle, visitors have time and opportunity to observe and absorb a more laid-back way of life.
A Bide Ride Through Natural Beauty and a Unique Culture
Pedaling along quiet back roads, cyclists experience the beauty of Holmes County. A king fisher waits and watches at a creek filled with wriggling minnows, and long-legged foals romp in green pastures.
Evening rides roll through valleys filled with the chorus of spring peepers. Smells of freshly-plowed fields, newly-mown hay, or dry leaves mark the seasons.
In the woods, the dogwood’s springtime lace is just as beautiful as the reds and golds of autumn. Cyclists have time to admire ponds and perennial gardens, hawks and early morning skies.
Those touring on bikes also have a closer look at the culture here as they catch vignettes of daily life in Amish Country. Farmers may be shocking wheat and gardeners weeding long, neat rows.
A small boy brings the cows to the barn and school children walk home from country schools. Occasionally bikers pass an Amish wedding, a farm auction, or a neighborhood volleyball game. A bike ride on a Sunday finds a resting, peaceful countryside.
There are glimpses of the county’s economy, too. Dozens of signs point to cottage industries and small shops on the back roads, everything from fresh produce stands and harness shops to fine furniture and fabric stores.
Bike Rentals and Service in Holmes County
Biking enthusiasts coming to Holmes County find a culture that adopts bicycles as a practical mode of transportation. The Amish often opt for bikes to travel to work, town, or events.
Owning a good bicycle and keeping it reliable is important to this lifestyle, so it's not surprising that the major bike shops in the area are all Amish businesses.
Besides retail bicycle sales, these shops carry parts and equipment and do repairs large and small. Even though they are Amish, most have a business phone, although sometimes it is an answering machine and callers will need to leave a message.
These following shops are all located between Sugarcreek and Millersburg; so in eastern Holmes County, a cyclist is never more than a few miles from repair and supplies.
- Countryside Bicycle, 2012 Clark Township Road 164, 330-852-4949
- Raber's Bike Shop, 6515 State Route 241, Millersburg. 330-674-3186 (vm)
- Hiland Bikes, 4860 Township Road 367, Berlin. 330-893-2769 (vm)
- Hiland Bikes of Charm, 4441 County Road 79, Charm. 330-231-1798 (cell)
- Mt. Hope Bicycle, 7639 State Route 24l, Millersburg. 330-674-9806
For visitors who come to Holmes County without a bicycle, rentals are available at the Raber's Bike Shop branch located in Hipp Station, Millersburg Depot, a trailhead for the Holmes County Trail.
Especially convenient for users of the recreational Trail, Raber’s rentals include cruisers and hybrids, a three-wheeler, and a trailer stroller that can be pushed or hitched to a bicycle.
Raber’s shop at the Depot also carries all equipment necessary, from helmets, tubes, and lights to water bottles, energy bars, and biking shorts. Small repair can be done here, too.
One inconvenience: this rental shop is closed on Thursday and Sunday and over the lunch hour, so customers will have to plan accordingly.
Precautions for Biking in Amish Country
As when biking anywhere, staying alert is the best precaution. Holmes County’s back roads are quieter than state highways, but they can throw unusual surprises in the path of cyclists — dairy cows plodding across the road on their way to or from the barn, a row of school children, farm machinery, and wildlife.
A fact of life on roads in Amish Country is that no one cleans up after the horses and cows, so bikers will find one more unique thing to dodge.
In one sense, the state routes are safer because they are better maintained. County roads often have rough spots and grooves worn by the horseshoes. Loose gravel is common.
These roads will be narrower than the state routes, and very few have any shoulder, although at some places there is a buggy lane that adds width.
Bikers would do well to carry the Map of Ohio's Amish Highways and Byways, available in many stores. This is a detailed map of Holmes and surrounding counties, showing all those back roads that cyclists might want to explore.
If planning a trip to Amish Country includes a bike ride, cyclists can ride through and experience the postcard scenes of this popular destination.