OWR Walking Tour: Moonville Rail Trail

April, 2021

In an ongoing series, we will be taking walking tours throughout Ohio’s Winding Road. Focusing on COVID-safe activities, we aim to share the natural beauty of the region and highlight its unique history and vibrant culture.


The author’s husband reads the interpretive panels at the parking lot and trail head.

Preserving Local History and the Environment

STORY AND VISUALS By Delia Palmisano

On the weekends my family and I can often be found exploring the outdoors– hiking through the woods, kayaking on the nearby lakes or biking on the bike path. I’ve spent the greater part of the last four years researching and documenting the mental and physical health benefits of time spent in nature, particularly for small children, so we try to spend as much time outside as possible.

The day we visit the Moonville Rail Trail, though, I’m not thinking about all that research. I just know it feels nice to get out in the fresh air, unplug for a bit, and move our bodies. We always have fun. (Well, okay, if I’m completely honest, sometimes our 6-year-old needs a little prodding, but she usually comes around.)

(Left to Right) The author’s son, dog and daughter. All enjoying the day on the trail.

The Moonville Rail Trail Association, a local nonprofit organization, was established in April 2001 with the purpose of building and maintaining a rail trail freely open to the public. The organization aims to preserve local history and the environment, provide educational opportunities, and assist the surrounding communities in promoting education, tourism, and economic development and is a prime example of what Ohio’s Winding Road represents.

As we walk along, it’s quiet except for the crunching of snow and the jingle of my dog’s collar as she runs by us. There are fresh tracks where a cross country skier has recently broken trail. 

The 16-mile trail is operated by a local nonprofit called the Moonville Rail Trail Association and takes visitors through the woodlands of Southeast Ohio, including Zaleski State Forest; the communities of Zaleski and Mineral; and the Lake Hope State Park wetland areas. 

Recently added to the National Register of Historic Places by the National Park Service, the trail also includes two unique tunnels. King’s Hollow Tunnel (also known as King Switch Tunnel) is a 120-foot structure carved through the rock and lined by a series of 12×12 wooden beams. The Moonville Tunnel is brick-lined and has a long history of train accidents, earning the tunnel a reputation for being haunted. 

The group is hoping to connect to the Hockhocking Adena Bikeway to create an even longer experience. I know I look forward to coming back as the weather warms up!

Hikers cross over the old rail bridge along the trail.


Moonville Rail Trail

Zaleski State Forest

Lake Hope State Park



ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Delia Palmisano is an Americorps member serving with Ohio’s Winding Road. Delia is a visual communicator and multimedia artist who believes in the power of storytelling. She feels a deep connection to the natural world and enjoys exploring the rolling hills of Appalachia with her husband and children.