Best Motorcycle Rides in Ohio: The Scenic Windy 9
Looking for the best motorcycle rides in Ohio to cruise your motorcycle on? Look no further than the Ohio’s Windy 9 in southeastern Ohio – a collection of the best motorcycle routes in Ohio.
Developed by the Athens County Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Windy 9 comprises nine motorcycle routes (each approximately 50 to 100 miles) covering nearly 1,000 miles of well-maintained roads! The Scenic Windy 9 takes riders through some of Ohio’s most stunning landscapes including the Wayne National Forest, Hocking Hills, and numerous state parks and forests. You’ll pass by covered bridges, beautiful farmland, charming small towns and wind along the mighty Ohio River!
Ohio’s Windy 9 is truly a motorcyclist’s dream and definitely the best motorcycle routes in Ohio!
Looking for even more motorcycle routes? Check out all of our Motorcycle Rides for more ideas.
Motorcyclists travel the country in search of riding great roads, Ohio riders are lucky to have the Windy 9 in their “backyard”. In my opinion, the Windy 9 is the best collection of motorcycle routes in the state. From twists and turns, hairpin curves and long, easy cruising roads, the Windy 9 has a route for every level of motorcycle rider!
Whether you want to complete the nearly 1,000 miles in a weekend, or cruise along a few of the routes exploring local attractions for the day, the routes of the Windy 9 will provide thrilling rides, stunning scenery, and the lure of the open road calling you to return again and again.
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Motorcycle Routes on Ohio’s Windy 9
All routes along Ohio’s Windy 9 “start” in Athens, but you can map out a route that makes the most sense for the direction you are starting from and how long you want to ride. We started in Columbus, researching the routes that would allow us to wind through as many of the Windy 9 routes as we could within our two-day getaway.
Looking for more on Athens? Check out our Weekend Getaway Guide: Things To Do In Athens, Ohio.
Some routes intersect and/or run parallel to each other, making it easy for riders to connect from route to route. Although we did not complete the 1,000 miles of Ohio’s Windy 9, we did accomplish our goal of riding along all 9 routes! Riders can pick up a Windy 9 map at the Athens County Convention and Visitors Bureau (or have one mailed to you), local places around Athens or click HERE to download a map.
Route 1: Rim of the World
Distance: 87 miles
The “Rim of the World” takes riders in a loop along State Route 78, northeast of Athens. Passing through Glouster, Ringgold, McConnelsville, Stockport, Chesterhill, Sharpsburg, Amesville and returning riders to Athens. With an easy, cruising ride, motorcyclists will enjoy the scenery of the Wayne National Forest, Burr Oak State Park, the Muskingum River and the Stockport Mill.
Local attractions along the route are Miner’s Memorial Park, Underground Railroad Historical Marker and the Stockport Lock and Dam. This route seemed to be popular, especially through the Burr Oak State Park area, where we stretched our legs for a bit while watching groups of motorcycles quickly pass by.
Route 2: Southern Dip
Distance: 94 miles
The “Southern Dip” takes riders in a loop along the Ohio River Scenic Byway, south of Athens. Passing through lovely river towns such as Pomeroy, Middleport and Gallipolis, then heading north to Vinton and Albany to return to Athens.
The “Southern Dip” is the ultimate cruising ride, no sharp twists or turns, just gentle curves, the open road and the scenic Ohio River! Enjoy the scenery of the Ohio River and the Appalachian country side. Local attractions include, numerous lookout points along the river, the riverside Gallipolis City Park and you can take a few extra miles to drive off the route to visit the Bob Evans Farm and Homestead near Rio Grande. If you wish, you can also cross the river into West Virginia, to explore the opposite side of the river!
Route 3: Hocking Hills Nipper
Distance: 93 miles
The “Hocking Hills Nipper” loops riders north and northwest of Athens. This ride will have you passing through the towns of Chauncey, New Straitsville, Logan and returning you back to Athens. I would suggest taking your time along this route, cruise the Hocking Hills Scenic Byway and make time to explore one of Ohio’s favorite tourist destinations, Hocking Hills!
This route is one of my favorites! With the stunning and lush scenery of Wayne National Forest, Hocking Hills and the Hocking and Zaleski State Forests, this ride is all about taking in the beauty of nature! From pondering the age of the oak trees in the forests, exploring Old Man’s Cave and Ash Cave in Hocking Hills, and searching the back roads for the Cox Covered Bridge (located on Woodgeard Road, just south of the SR 56 and SR 93 intersection), the “Hocking Hills Nipper” also makes a great day trip!
A few things to watch along this route are falling rocks alongside the road in the Hocking Hills area, some blind curves, and the deer (several deer ran beside us while some munched away on their afternoon snack alongside the road, nodding as we passed by).
PRO TIP: For motorcyclists, the most popular spot in this area which caters to riders is JimBo’s Bar and Diner. Stop in for a cold drink and one of their famous hamburgers!
Read about my autumn Hocking Hills Motorcycle Ride.
Route 4: Lazy Rivers
Distance: 101 miles
The “Lazy Rivers” route loops riders east and southeast of Athens. Passing through Stewart, Reedsville, Portland, Racine, Pomeroy and returning riders to Athens. This Ohio motorcycle route is a cruisers’ dream! With only a few gentle curves, riders can let the road lead them leisurely alongside the Hocking and Ohio Rivers.
Local attractions are Forked Run State Park, Buffington Island Battlefield State Memorial Park and the many Ohio River locks and dams. Take a few minutes to stretch your legs while watching the engineering marvels do their thing and explore the rich history of the river town, Pomeroy. This route is all about cruising and enjoying the scenic river views and Ohio’s beautiful farmland.
Route 5: Zaleski Zipper
Distance: 51 miles
The “Zaleski Zipper” is the shortest of the nine routes. This route loops riders west of Athens, passing through Albany and Zaleski then returning to Athens. Local attractions along this route are the Lake Hope State Park, Zaleski State Forest and the Underground Railroad in Albany.
We enjoyed a welcomed break and cold drink in Zaleski at the Village Inn. It was just the two of us and the friendly bartender (whose name has unfortunately escaped me), he talked with us like we were old friends, telling us about the local area and haunted spots near Lake Hope State Park. That’s the thing about traveling, whether you are near or far from home, always strike up a conversation with a local, it will change your perspective about a place!
Without stopping at the Village Inn, Zaleski would have been another blur of a town we passed through on our two-day excursion. Instead the friendly conversation has us wanting to visit the Village Inn again, to say hello to our new friend when we return to the area!
Route 6: Pioneer Pass
Distance: 105 miles
The “Pioneer Pass” takes riders east of Athens. This route will take riders through Amesville, Sharpsburg, Chesterhill, Watertown, Marietta then returning to Athens. With this route, riders can experience a short trek along State Route 555 (Triple Nickle), the rolling Appalachian hills, Wayne National Forest, Stroud’s Run State Park and Gifford State Park.
Take a break to explore Marietta and the Valley Gem Sternwheeler for a taste of Ohio’s rich river history.
Looking for more about Marietta, Ohio? Read 5 Reasons You Should Visit Marietta, Ohio and Discovering Marietta, Ohio’s Historical Past.
Route 7: Pomeroy Dash
Distance: 64 miles
The “Pomeroy Dash” takes riders south of Athens. This route leads riders along Old US 33 through Shade, Pomeroy, Albany and returning to Athens, showcasing the main historic thoroughfare which connected Athens to the Ohio River. The “Pomeroy Dash” has gentle curves, Appalachian country roads and Ohio River views.
We found the cutest small-town café located in Albany, which served a delicious home-cooked breakfast! The Albany Café is located in an older school building, patrons dine in the cafeteria with school-themed décor upon the walls and the original lockers in the hallway. With delicious food and school spirit atmosphere, the Albany Café will remind you of your school days!
Route 8: Black Diamond Run
Distance: 101 miles
The “Black Diamond Run” takes riders north of Athens. This motorcycle ride in Ohio showcases the Hocking Valley’s turn-of-the-century mining towns, passing through Nelsonville, Somerset, New Lexington, Shawnee, New Straitsville, Chauncey and returning to Athens. Explore the Wayne National Forest, Nelsonville Historic Square, Hocking Valley Scenic Railway, Rocky Outdoor Gear Headquarters and Robinson’s Cave.
We made a pit-stop in Somerset to stretch our legs and to enjoy lunch at Clay Haus. Clay Haus sits in an old German House constructed between 1812 and 1820. Opened in 1978, as a German-American restaurant, visitors to Clay Haus will love the food and the historic atmosphere!
Route 9: The Triple Nickle
Distance: 63 miles
The legendary Ohio “Triple Nickle” is the most challenging route of the nine. The “Triple Nickle” or State Route 555 runs north-south through four counties. This rural route has well-maintained roads, with lots of twists, turns, blind curves and hills, a sport-rider’s dream.
If you are looking for a relaxing cruising ride or are an inexperienced rider, the “Triple Nickle” is not for you. As a technically challenging route, drivers must be alert at all times, obey the speed limit and watch for loose stone/gravel around some curves.
Definitely a thrilling and adrenaline pumping ride, although I was a bit nervous on this route, with the constant twist and turns and blind curves. We only passed two other motorcyclists on this route as we made our way through gorgeous Ohio farmland and a quick pass through Wayne National Park. The “Triple Nickle” is all about the ride, not the destination. Many riders label SR 555 as the best ride in Ohio and others have nicknamed it “Ohio’s Tail of the Dragon”!
Where to Stay Along the Windy 9 Routes
Whether you want to stay in at the hotel for the evening or you want to explore the numerous bars and restaurants, you can’t go wrong with an overnight stay in Athens on your motorcycle weekend getaway. After driving 7+ hours the first day of our two-day Windy 9 excursion, we thought an overnight in Athens was a welcomed retreat!
The Ohio University Inn
The clean and spacious, air-conditioned rooms of the Ohio University Inn were the perfect welcome after a long, hot day in the sun.
The Ohio University Inn currently offers riders an “Ohio Windy 9” hotel package, consisting of overnight accommodations (riders can request rooms with parking lot view to peak at their motorcycle throughout the night), breakfast (either buffet-style or “Grab & Go” for early risers), complimentary vehicle wash area and complimentary Ohio Windy 9 maps and helmet stickers.
Other amenities at the hotel include a large outdoor patio to relax and unwind, swimming pool, conference center, free Wi-Fi, Starbucks coffee shop, the Bunch of Grapes Tavern and Cutler’s Restaurant.
Where to Eat & Drink in Athens
Since we were exhausted from our 7+hour ride, we decided to stay at the hotel for the evening, we ate a delicious meal at the hotel’s restaurant, Cutler’s, enjoyed a quick drink on the outdoor patio, then returned to our room for an early evening to rest for our second day on the motorcycle.
Smiling Skull Saloon
A well-known local biker bar, the Smiling Skull Saloon has been around for a long time. You can expect to meet all types of people at the bar, not just bikers. It has a decent craft beer and draft list and it’s a good place to hang out while you’re in between rides.
Popular Motorcycle Shop in Athens
In case you need any gear while on the road, you can check out Athens Sports Cycles (featuring popular motorcycle brands like Harley Davidson, Kawasaki, Yamaha and Suzuki).
Looking for more things to do in Athens? Read my Weekend Getaway Guide: Athens, Ohio.
Watch the video below to experience the Windy 9 from the passenger’s seat!
With beautiful and differing landscapes, historic towns and well-maintained roads, the scenic routes of the Windy 9 are some of the best motorcycle rides in Ohio and are truly a motorcyclist’s dream! To learn more about Ohio’s Windy 9, please visit https://www.windy9.com.
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A special thanks to Athens County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Ohio University Inn and Inspire PR Group. I was an invited guest of the Athens County Convention and Visitors Bureau and Ohio University Inn. As always on Ohio Girl Travels, all opinions are my own!
That looks like it was such an awesome trip. Nice route – taking you buy great scenery, interesting historical sites, and what looks like some really good food too!
Thanks for stopping by the blog! The Windy 9 routes in southeast Ohio has incredible scenery, lots of Ohio history to explore and delicious food! Thanks for reading about the Windy 9! 🙂
Excellent work! I have friends coming from the other corners of the state and I was looking for some good routes from Malta to Athens. I have done several Hocking Hills runs but am bad about remembering roads, actually pretty bad about towns too!
Too add to the above I did take 555 just west of Malta and looped back up 377 to Malta.. this road was terrible! I like a challenge but that part of 555 is going bad.. not only gravel, but road surface is going bad too. Add that to the busy slow speed nature and limited site distances.. and this road is a skip!
I admin the Facebook page: Ohio Sport Touring Motorcycle Group we are always looking for good roads and small group runs with mature riders. Look us up!
Hi Gary! Thanks for stopping by the blog and reading about the Windy 9! Hope you have some fantastic rides this fall! 🙂
hi i enjoyed your site very much well written lots of nice photos . i live in carrollton oh ,i plan on running the 9 routes in 2017. you should do more. you are good at it.
Hi Packey! Thanks for stopping by the blog and for the kind words! I am planning to do more motorcycle blogs next year, so stayed tuned! I hope you enjoy riding the Windy 9 in 2017! 🙂
Heather, I was born and raised in Southern Ohio. Shawnee to be exact. I have ridden all of the Windy 9. I spent my high school summers working at Burr Oak. Skip Rickets, the proprietor of Burr Oak Marinas (Dock 1 and Dock 4) is my step dad. So the Rim of the World run and the Black Diamond Run, and the Hocking Hills Nipper were in my backyard. I currently live in Kingman, Kansas where there are vey little scenic routes to enjoy. Unless you like Wheat!!. I try to get back to Ohio at least once a year and I make sure to bring my bike. It is around a 960 mile trip and I usually do it all at once. It never fails, I pull into y parents driveway. Take a quick shower. Then take off for the curvy scenic roads. For my next trip home I plan on using my Go-Pro to video my routes back home. But thanks to you I can show everyone out here why I like going home to ride. Thanks again for posting the Windy 9.
Thanks so much for visiting the blog and for your kind words, Ronnie! We loved riding the Windy 9 routes and I’m glad my video can come in handy when you are bragging about Ohio’s scenic roads! 😉 Enjoy your upcoming rides and be safe out there!
I live in Zanesville. That being said I love to ride Rt. 60 south to McConnelsville along the Muskingum River. Then I’ll shoot across St.Rt.78 thru Glouster and over to Murray City. Once I get to murray city I take 216N to New Straitsville. Then I hit the best part of the trip(in my opinion)595 south to 33. It’s full of curves and a couple switchbacks. It’s not for the inexperienced rider. Mind the speed limits on this one. Once I get to Nelsonville stop at Tammy’s Country Kitchen Restaurant · 1333 E Canal St.
After a good meal I head south on 33 and take78 back your Glouster. Go thru town and do not turn on 78.
I then stay on 93 all the way to the 93&13 intersection. I head north on 93 back to Zanesville.
That route will satisfy the cruiser and sport bike rider. Enjoy the ride and you all be safe out yhere.
Hi Karl, thanks for visiting the blog! Thanks so much for your detailed routes, we will be sure to check them out this summer! Enjoy your upcoming rides and be safe! 🙂
I live in New Straits ville Ohio. So I am very familiar with the windy 9.Love country life .Nothing like riding and taking in all of our beautiful scenery.
Thanks for visiting the blog Lisa! There really is nothing like riding a motorcycle on back country roads, such lovely scenery! 🙂
I live in Coshocton, Oh and there are so many great rides all around the eastern half of the State. One I really enjoy is one called the ‘cousin to the dragon’s tail. St rt 536 off of rt 78 east of Woodsfield, Oh is more of the high ridges and great scenic view. It is 12 miles from SR 78 to Rt 7 on the Ohio river at Hannibal ohio. then about 5 miles south on Rt 7 to Sardis where you hang a right onto Ohio255 and another 15 miles back to SR 800 south of Woodsfield. I think this is a better trip than the triple nickel which is a great ride also. You can come off SR255 onto 800 and catch SR 26 thru the Wayne Nat’l Forest to Marietta. Try it sometime. I now ride a trike so not quite as much fun, but safer for me. Soon to be 80. Ride safe.
Thanks for visiting the blog, Russ! I will definitely check out those routes…sounds like a nice ride! Hitting the open road on a motorcycle is a great way to feel young at heart! Wishing you many more safe riding seasons! 🙂