By mid to late next year, enough links between growing bike trails should be in place so cyclists can ride from Elmore into Lorain County on dedicated paths.
It may not be too much longer after that before cyclists can start their trek in Genoa. And eventually, they hopefully will be able to bike into Pennsylvania to the east and Indiana to the west.
"The linkages are all really close to coming together now to making this a truly national trail," Steve Gruner, director of the Sandusky County Park District, said.
In Sandusky and Ottawa counties, the North Coast Inland Trail is a 10-foot wide paved bike path that so far connects Elmore to Clyde.
Another link, from Clyde to the western edge of Bellevue, should be completed next year, while work is ongoing to apply for grants to extend the bike path from Elmore to Genoa, Mr. Gruner said.
Sandusky County's Clyde-to-Bellevue link will be about 4.7 miles long, and it is being mostly funded by a $1.4 million Ohio Department of Transportation grant and a $375,000 Ohio Department of Natural Resources grant, Mr. Gruner said.
Engineering work is under way, and construction bids likely will be taken this fall, he said.
In Ottawa County, officials are working on mapping out the Elmore-to-Genoa route and other details before applying for funding from ODOT and ODNR, said Elmore Mayor Lowell Krumnow. The deadline is February.
The process of gaining easements or other rights is in progress for the last half mile of the roughly five-mile link, and engineering work for the grant applications has begun, he said.
"It's going slower than I want to do it," Mayor Krumnow said of the project.
A nonprofit organization will be revived or created to help fund the part of the Elmore-to-Genoa project that will not be covered by grants, and people already are asking about making donations, he said.
The North Coast Inland Trail opened in 1997 with the link from Clyde to Fremont. When the Bellevue link is completed, the bike trail will cover 25 miles in Sandusky County, Mr. Gruner said.
Half the Clyde-to-Fremont link was repaved two years ago, with a center strip added as there is on the more recent Fremont-Lindsey-Elmore link, Mr. Gruner said. The other half is being repaved this year with a $50,000 grant from ODNR, he said.
Once the Clyde-to-Bellevue link of the North Coast Inland Trail is completed, other trails will be in place for bicyclists to get into Lorain County, Mr. Gruner said.
To the east, the trail eventually hopes to connect from Genoa to Millbury, as well as link into other bike paths in Wood and Lucas counties, he said.