About Ohio’s Winding Road

Off-the-beaten path destinations and unique explorations await you along Ohio’s Winding Road.


As the Ohio landscape changes from Midwest farmlands to Appalachian foothills, so do the opportunities for exploration and learning. Ohio’s Winding Road is a compilation of active, authentic experiences and products in Ohio’s Rising Appalachia that are anything but typical. With an emphasis on local guiding and “small scale”, the cultural story is accented by emerging arts, local foods, and outdoor recreation.

Watch Ohio’s Winding Road grow over the coming years as this region of Ohio leads a locally-driven, sustainable approach to recovery. We move from a sometimes challenging past into a vibrant future where “pride of place” and “stewardship” are strong values. From ‘A’ to ‘Z’ (Athens to Zanesville), and the spirited lands in between, let us guide you through our fresh and inspiring story of creative communities working together to enliven the place where we live!


Ohio’s Winding Road supports and promotes a new, experience-based economy in Ohio’s Appalachian region. We do this for local residents, producers, and makers, as well as visitors from the larger region. We accomplish this through a cooperative regional brand and a collaborative network of people from different agencies and businesses.

Our Vision

Imagine the end of our journey for Ohio’s Winding Road: a nationally-recognized and sustainable cluster of authentic places, experiences, and products in Appalachian Ohio. This includes tours, venues, historical sites, cultural events, interpretative programs, trails, outdoor recreation, arts and entertainment, local foods, lodging, and more.

Imagine these experiences and products as all locally-owned yet united under a common brand, Ohio’s Winding Road: Sharing Our Appalachia. Supporting this brand is a network of organizations and businesses, with cooperative sales and marketing. The power of our network not only brings local residents together, but also drives outside visitors to the region. Together, this creates new and vital experience-based economies, business creation, and employment. Imagine Ohio’s Winding Road as a region where we all benefit from local stewardship, a sense of local pride, and an enhanced quality of life.

History and Future

In its first year, the collaboration focused on destinations in the southeastern Ohio’s Morgan, Athens, Perry, Hocking, and Muskingum Counties, situated in the Hocking and Muskingum River Valleys. Anchored by the Wayne National Forest, Burr Oak State Park, the Little Cities of Black Diamonds, beloved college-town Athens, and historic communities such as  Somerset, McConnelsville and Zanesville, the region is within a half-day or less drive from urban centers Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Pittsburgh.

A collection of authentic tours and experiences was compiled in 2016 into an Experiences Sourcebook that stood as a testament to all this region has to offer. In 2017, the initiative gained new momentum, as well as the committed support of invaluable community organizations such as the Appalachian Center for Economic Networks (ACEnet) and Rural Action, and educational institutions, including Ohio University and Hocking College. The commitment of those and many other stakeholders has started the Winding Road on a strong path toward creating a network of supportive producers dedicated to telling our authentic story through art, food, music, outdoor recreation, environmental learning and guiding.

Beginning in 2020 and completed in 2021, we finalized our first common agenda which outlines our structure and goals.

Ohio’s Winding Road Operations Team

Ohio’s Winding Road is made possible by a collaboration of creative organizations, businesses, and individuals facilitated by Ohio’s Hill Country Heritage Area’s Gateway to Public Lands initiative and the assistance of Circle Forward Partners and includes these partner organizations:

Appalachian Center for Economic Networks (ACEnet)
Rural Action (including members of AmeriCorps through Rural Action, Ohio Stream Restore Corps)
Ohio University
Hocking College

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