The Outdoor Recreation Council of Appalachia (ORCA), the council of governments managing and developing the world-class mountain bike optimized Baileys Trail System, is pleased to announce the State of Ohio will invest $2 million over the next two years to finish buildout of trails in northern Athens County.

Once completed, the Baileys Trail System will be the longest contiguous mountain bike system in the eastern United States, anticipated to draw tens of thousands of tourists to southeast Ohio annually from across the country.

The Baileys Trail System will be professionally built on over 9,000 acres of the Wayne National Forest. The Baileys Trail System project’s projected 10 year impacts are: $40 million in increased spending, 78 new jobs and 150 jobs retained and $10 million in new wage growth.

“I’m looking forward to the completion of Baileys Trail System in Athens County,” Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said. “With miles and miles to explore, southeast Ohio will have another family-friendly and adventure-worthy destination for visitors. I expect this trail will encourage growth for the region and invite more people to our state.”

As the coronavirus pandemic drew millions of Americans outdoors and in search of ecotourism and recreation opportunities, ORCA recognized an opportunity to approach state leaders for the final investment required to finish the world-class trail system. State Rep. Jay Edwards, of Nelsonville, championed the budget request in Columbus.

“Baileys Trail System is a trail system that, once completed, will consist of 88 miles of purpose built mountain bike optimized trails, open to all forms of human powered use,” Edwards said. “It will be a boon to southeast Ohio tourism, and I am delighted to see such significant funds go towards this trail system. Upon completion, the Baileys Trail System will be one of the longest in the eastern United States, and I am confident it will have positive regional impacts in Appalachian Ohio.”

State Sen. Bob Peterson led the effort in the Senate to secure support for the project, one of the largest State of Ohio investments ever in outdoor recreation and tourism.

“I was proud to support funding for the Bailey’s Bike Trail Project in Athens County,” said Peterson. “The enhancements to the trail will create a tourism destination with economic benefits and quality recreational opportunities for Athens and all of southern Ohio. As a farmer, I appreciate and value the beauty of nature, and this trail project will enable hikers, bikers, walkers, runners, and others to experience the beauty and majesty of the great outdoors.”

Other key supporters in Columbus include State Reps. Brian Stewart and Jason Stephens.

"I'm excited to see the Baileys Trail System be able to grow,” Stephens said. “I hope that many will get to enjoy the system into the future.”

ORCA is Ohio’s only council of governments intentionally created to deliver economic, environmental, health and social benefits to communities via sustainable outdoor recreation.

ORCA Chair Steve Patterson, mayor of the City of Athens, said: “State of Ohio support of the catalytic Baileys Trail System is a prudent investment in Ohio’s assets. As the Chair of the Outdoor Recreation Council of Appalachia, it is exciting to know that this funding will advance construction of a project designed to increase government revenues, create new economic opportunities, and generate additional public and private investment in Appalachian Ohio.”

ORCA Executive Director Jessie Powers said: “State of Ohio support for our sustainable outdoor recreation development efforts is an honor, one that signifies the value of Baileys Trail System, and how strategic state and local government investments can equip rural communities with tools to improve economies, health, the environment and Ohio’s vibrancy.”

“To know that the state believes in outdoor recreation as a catalyst for economic development in southeast Ohio validates the work we’ve been doing to revive former mining communities like Chauncey,” said ORCA Vice-chair Amy Renner, mayor of Chauncey. “We are excited to see how this investment will accelerate our region’s future and change our narrative for the better.”

ORCA Board Member Lenny Eliason, an Athens County Commissioner, said: “We are excited that the state is taking an active role in the economic development of our area. Tourism is a vital part of our local economy.”

ORCA Board Member York Township Trustee President Tim Warren echoed this sentiment stating: “The residents of York Township and the surrounding area applaud the State for having the foresight to invest in tourism in southeast Ohio. Thank you.”

To learn more about the Baileys Trail System, please visit https://baileystrailsystem.org.