Madison County dipping toe into camping business
The Madison County Park Board is tip-toeing into the campground business with a small, “experimental” camping spot on the Prairie Grass Trail, just west of London.
The Prairie Grass runs between Xenia and London as a 29-mile unit of the Ohio-To-Erie Trail.
The board and the Friends of Madison County Parks and Trails received a go-ahead from the county commissioners on March 21 to install a six-site primitive campground adjacent to a shelter house on the trail where it enters the city from South Charleston.
There’s a restroom nearby – no shower, however.
Both London police officers and Madison County Sheriff’s deputies will keep eyes on the area.
The friends group will survey users of the new campground and collect data for future recreational grant applications and land purchases, according to Wayne Roberts of the friends group.
The park board has toyed with campground proposals for several years. It has considered a 12-acre spot west of London and a 50-acre parcel east of the city to serve campers. Both are on the trail system.
Roberts said a four-acre site, already owned by his organization, would provide a more immediate alternative. It is located on London’s east side at the head of the 6.5-mile Roberts-Pass Trail, which runs between Maple Street in the city to Wilson Road – toward the Franklin County line.
Matco, a local company, is headquartered near the trailhead and has shown interest in helping with improvements, Roberts added.
Using the trail system as an economic driver has long intrigued London leaders. One problem is the disjointed way the Ohio-To-Erie Trail runs through the city.
It is a paved, 10-foot path as it reaches the limits on the east (Roberts-Pass) and west (Prairie Grass) sides. However, users must follow signed city streets to maneuver through town from one segment to the other. Many cyclists and hikers don’t appear to realize London is not a terminus of both trails.
A not-so-simple solution would be to continue the trail east to west alongside a seldom-used rail spur that serves the Armaly Corporation. City leaders have looked into that. But it would require a high fence or barricade to separate the trail from the railroad. And there may be other considerations.
Continuing the trail straight through the city would not only be more convenient and sensible for users. It would also be a boon to businesses on London’s less-traveled south side.