Why do some bike trails go under water?

If you plan to go on a bike ride, we understand you may be disappointed when a section of the trail is covered by river water after heavy rains. We‘ve all been there! But we want you to know that some trails were actually built as an additional amenity as part of an integrated flood protection system and trails are meant to go under water.

MCD’s riverfront levees and preserved floodplains provide a unique venue for recreation such as bike trails, riverfront parks, and boat launches. But that also means these places allow water to safely pass through the city during heavy rains.

It is all part of the design

Southwest Ohio is host to nearly 350 miles of networked paved trails, and many of those miles are built on lands managed by the Miami Conservancy District (MCD) for storing flood waters. The managed flood-prone lands that are part of this system are perfect for bike trails – so trail users don’t have to walk, run, or ride on the roads. Currently, 77 miles of bike trail run through the cities that are protected from river flooding. Those cities are Piqua, Troy, Tipp City, Huber Heights, Dayton, Moraine, West Carrollton, Miamisburg, Franklin, Middletown, and Hamilton.

Low-lying bike trails inside the MCD flood protection system may go under water when the river rises.

For example, the Riverscape MetroPark in downtown Dayton is located both on top of the levee, and inside the river channel. The park facilities that are situated on top of the levee – such as the pavilion, manicured gardens, play fountains, and concessions stands – are protected from rising river water. However there are sections of bike trails and places to launch your kayak that are designed to go under water when the river is high. Those places are located inside the river channel.

When can you use the trails again?

Play it safe – We don’t want you to get hurt!  Be aware of water hazards and your surroundings. When water is covering the trails, trail users should not attempt to cross or wade through water. Under the surface of the water, dangerous debris may be floating, the trail might have eroded away during the high flows, or the pavement might be slippery with mud. Once the water recedes, maintenance staff may need days – or even weeks – to clean debris and mud from the trail or to make repairs. Trail users should avoid sections that have not been properly cleaned following a high water event.

Check the website for trail conditions

After big storms it may take a few days for river water to recede from low-lying bike trails. You can check water levels without ever leaving home.

For conditions of the Great Miami River Recreation Trail, view the realtime Bike Trail and River Conditions map hosted on the Great Miami Riverway webpage – https://www.greatmiamiriverway.com/trail-conditions-map.php.

For all other trail alerts visit Miami Valley Trail Alerts – https://www.miamivalleytrails.org/trail-info-alerts