Grand Rivers Tour

Somewhere between the busy family vacation season and the busy fall color season, we sandwich in some quiet time to celebrate the final days of summer sunshine on our bicycles by exploring the many faces of northeast Ohio. With 3 wonderful resort inns to pamper us daily, we’ll pedal lovely country roads to visit Ohio’s largest wine producing region, the woodlands of Ohio maple syrup country, a myriad of historic covered bridges, a quaint college town, a very quirky amusement district perched along Lake Erie, a castle in the woods, picturesque ravines carved from sandstone and shale, several Amish communities, and all while playing peek-a-boo with the “grand rivers” of this grand area of Ohio.

Day 1 (Sunday): Warm-up Loop, 23 or 32 miles
Riders arrive Sunday morning at the lovely Lodge at Geneva on the Lake, sprawling along the shore of Lake Erie at the northeast corner of Geneva State Park. Today’s optional “warm-up ride” is a perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in Grand River wine country, with the chance to visit no less than 4 great wineries (more on the longer route) for some light tasting and, if you wish, picking up a few bottles which the BCR team will safeguard till you’re ready to pop a cork in your room or load into your car at the end of the week. The route will also take you across a lovely covered bridge over the Grand River, plus the “shortest covered bridge in the world” in the charming town of Geneva. More great covered bridges will await on Day 2.
If you have the time, take a stroll across the grounds, relax in the gazebo, take a dip in the pool and hot tubs, and enjoy the lakeside sounds of gentle waves. This evening, meet your fellow riders as you enjoy a signature Buckeye Country Roads wine and cheese reception followed by a luscious dinner at the Lodge.

Day 2 (Monday): Ashtabula Loop, 56 or 67 miles
Fueled by a great hot buffet breakfast at the Lodge, we set out on a full exploration of the covered bridges of Ashtabula County. Heading initially toward the town of Jefferson, you’ll visit the first of the 4 to 9 (depending on the distance chosen) interesting bridges that will color our day. You will then have a chance to stop at the Victorian Perambulator Museum in the town of Jefferson, the only museum of its kind in the world where over 250 antique baby carriages—true works of wicker art!—are on display. After completing the loop through Jefferson you will continue to enjoy the serenity of the countryside, visiting additional bridges as we work our way toward the city of Ashtabula. In the heart of Ashtabula’s Bridge Street be sure to stop for ice cream, for chocolate (at Marianne’s Chocolates) or for both, or grab lunch in one of the local river-side restaurants. Let your food settle while you wait for the Bascule or “Lift Bridge” to lift off (every ½ hour). Then pay a visit to the Maritime and Surface Transportation Museum or the Hubbard House Underground Railroad Museum. A lakeside cruise back through Geneva-on-the-Lake will carry you by a couple more wineries and an historical museum, all waiting for your exploration.

For this evening’s wine and cheese reception, we venture out to a favorite winery a little bit off our bike routes and once we’ve gone over the next day’s route, you are free to step out and find dinner on your own, or see what the kitchen at the winery can cook up this evening as the wine and cycling talk continue to flow.

Day 3 (Tuesday): Geneva to Quail Hollow, 39 or 48 miles
Today we take leave of the Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake as we set out along the shore of Lake Erie on our way toward Painesville and the Quail Hollow Resort. Enjoy several fabulously scenic parks and vistas along the Erie shore, punctuated by a close-up view of a nuclear power plant! Climb the hill of the week—what we’ve named “The Blair Witch”—and ride quickly by her “ginger-bread” house hidden in the gulch! Riding by several more metro parks will delight your desire for scenery. Then head through Painesville to the lakefront area of Fairport Harbor and explore the Marine Museum and Lighthouse at Lakefront Park. After dipping your toes in the lake once again, we cruise down the Lake Metroparks Greenway Corridor, which will bring us to our destination at Quail Hollow Resort. This lovely resort will reward your efforts with pool, hot tub, dry sauna, and all the amenities you expect from our hoteliers

Our wine and cheese reception will be held at this beautiful golf resort, followed by a delicious banquet dinner. After dinner, stroll around about on the golf course and enjoy the sunset, a fitting end to a wonderful day of scenery and cycling!

Day 4 (Wednesday): Chagrin Loop, 36 or 50 miles
Today brings with it another great day of cycling adventures, scenery, and history as we head out on a loop ride toward the Chagrin River Valley. We begin with a tour of Holden Arboretum, among the largest arboreta in the USA covering 3,600 acres. The day’s long route will explore the Chagrin River Valley and cycle through the North Chagrin Reservation, paying a visit to the visitor’s center and to Squire’s Castle, the quaint remains of a mansion built by Fergus Squire, Vice President of Standard Oil in its heyday. A bit further on will lead to the historic center of Kirtland, where the Mormons under Joseph Smith established a residence and built a temple. Explore the temple complex and the Historic Kirtland Visitor’s Center for a survey of Mormon history prior to their move to Illinois and then on to Salt Lake City. Stops by the Mooreland Mansion and the James Garfield National Historic Site will fill in some historical details. Turning towards the lake once again, we visit Headlands Beach State Park, with a late and well deserved stop at Pickle Bill’s Lobster Shack, near the mouth of the Grand River, for an early afternoon riverside seafood snack. Then jump on the Lake Metropark Greenway Corridor once again to cruise back to the Quail Hollow Resort.

Today’s late afternoon wine and cheese reception will be held at the Redhawk Grille, a short walk from the resort, and feel free to stay there with us for dinner or explore other local restaurants not far away for a pleasant walk in this golfer’s paradise.

Day 5 (Thursday): Quail Hollow to Punderson Manor, 43 or 56 miles
Leaving Quail Hollow Resort this morning, we head south toward Punderson Lake State Park and the Tudor-esque Punderson Manor Lodge. Celebrating the fact that we are in the heart of Ohio’s maple sugar territory, we will spend lots of time today on the Maple Highlands Trail, as it winds its way down to Chardon and to the headwaters of the Cuyahoga River. We’ll cycle through a number of lush parklands, enjoying the great natural beauty of this area. Then we head out to our snack stop at the interesting Observatory Park, known as one of the prime areas least affected by the light pollution of big city lights (and thus the location for this observatory, formerly operated by Case Western Reserve University). We’ll make our way to the town of Chardon where you may wish to pick up some Ohio maple syrup or otherwise satisfy your sweet tooth at Richards Maple Products. While away some time on Chardon’s lovely town square, visit a nice bike shop if you wish, then head south where you may want to grab a spot on the patio of the Bass Lake Taverne for a sandwich or your favorite beverage, before making the final push to the lodge.

Thursday evening we’ll regroup to swap stories from our cycling day over wine and cheese at the nearby Sharon James Cellars, and enjoy dinner on your own either back at the lodge or with Joe and Rod at Mangia Mangia Italian restaurant down the street.

Day 6 (Friday): Amish Loop, 40 or 59 miles
Following your buffet breakfast at Punderson Manor, it’s time to venture deeply into northeast Ohio Amish country. This area is home to the second largest Amish population in Ohio and the 4th largest in the world. Start the day with a short ride to the village square in Burton where we will have a group guided tour of the Century Village Museum followed by a quick jaunt over to the Burton Log Cabin, where you will be able to learn about maple syrup making in Ohio. Have a “second breakfast” piece of Amish pie at Mary Yoder’s Kitchen in the town of Middlefield at mile 10 before paying a visit to the village of Mesopotamia. Then we will head south and west for additional glimpses of the Amish lifestyle in this unspoiled rural area. Both Burton and Middlefield offer many local shops to explore, whether it’s antiques, leather goods, wood crafts, Amish baked treats, chocolates or cheeses you may be looking for. Even tiny Mesopotamia has a gas station and general store that will make for a mind-boggling stop (with an enormous horse-drawn Amish buggy on display across the street). As you ride the back roads throughout much of this area, frequented by the horse-drawn buggies, you’ll learn that these roads are not exactly paved with gold but rather with a different “material.” You’ll cross tracks and the Cuyahoga once again in Burton, but don’t miss stopping in for a late-ride treat at the Buckeye Chocolate Co. near the end of your jaunt. It’s some of the best chocolate we’ve found in Ohio, and the samples are wonderful!!

If you choose the longer route on this day you’ll also be visiting Nelson-Kennedy Ledges State Park where you might want to catch a glimpse of its very interesting sandstone cliffs, and you’ll pass through the towns of Garrettsville and Hiram, the latter being the home of Hiram College.

Our farewell reception and dinner will be held at Punderson Manor, and we hope that the Tudor architecture will put you in a regal mood fit for a feast with Henry or Elizabeth, as you prepare for your final day on the Grand Rivers Tour.

Day 7 (Saturday): Punderson Manor back to Geneva State Park Lodge, 44 miles
On this last day we leave “Maple Syrup Country” and head back into “Wine Country” once again. We’ll make a beeline for three (or four or five) of our favorite wineries, so if you didn’t have time for wine on Day 1, this particular day is for you!! We’ll pass through Chardon once again and after a snack stop in the hamlet of Hambden, we’ll head out across the changing landscape toward the vineyards of Grand River Cellars, Chalet Debonne, M Cellars, and South River. Take it from us—these are some of the finest wines in Ohio, regardless of how refined your palate is! Crossing the scenic Harpersfield Covered Bridge will bring you to several more wineries, which you may already have visited on Day 1. So the final charge will likely be on to return to our start at Geneva State Park Lodge, where a hot shower and your car will be awaiting you.

On your way home you can replay in your mind your visit to Ohio’s grand rivers—the Grand, the Ashtabula, the Chagrin, and even the headwaters of the Cuyahoga itself—and imagine now what it might be like to ride with us next time in the shores and Islands near Sandusky and Marblehead Peninsula or the challenging Amish country of Coshocton, Wayne, Holmes and Tuscarawas Counties.