Explore the Dave Belew Trail: Hamilton's Gateway to Outdoor Adventure

April 30, 2024
Trailhead locations map

As spring ushers in warmer weather, venturing outdoors for an adventure is more appealing than ever. Whether you're looking to engage in a vigorous workout, enjoy a leisurely stroll, or immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the surroundings, the newly named Dave Belew Trail in Hamilton offers a versatile outdoor experience for all.


Spanning nearly 10 miles as part of the Great Miami River Trail, this trail is ideal for walking, biking, and running. Conveniently, several trailheads are located near local attractions and businesses, making it easy to plan a fulfilling day out. Here's what you need to know about Hamilton’s Dave Belew Trail:


The Dave Belew Trail: Key Features 

  • Trailheads: Locations to start your experience that feature convenient parking, easy trail access, and, in some cases, restrooms. Most trailheads are about 2 miles apart from the next, and there are 6 major trailheads along the Dave Belew Trail.
  • Trailhead Locations: Starting south and heading north, trailheads include: Joyce Park (public restroom), Kevin Lodder Park, Fitton Center for Creative Arts & Monument Park, Marcum Park (public restroom), Canal Road, and Rentschler Forest Metropark (public restroom).
  • The Downtown Loop: The Fitton Center and Marcum Park trailheads, which are relatively close together, also offer a street-level (upper levy) path that easily connects into Downtown Hamilton. The street-level path and riverside path connect with a ramp at Marcum Park and another just south of the Fitton Center near the Columbia Bridge (about a half mile).
  • The Bigger Trail Network: The Dave Belew Trail is a section of the Great Miami River Trail and part of the Miami Valley Trail Network, which features more than 350 miles of trails to explore. Hamilton will be directly connected to the network in the coming years as the Rentschler Forest to Middletown connector is completed.


Plan a Trip Along the Dave Belew Trail 

There is so much to do and see along the Dave Belew Trail. Perfect for short activities or even a day trip, you and your family can bike, run, or walk along the trail, sampling small portions of Hamilton with each stop you make.

On Foot:

  • Leisurely Downtown Stroll: Start at Marcum Park or the Fitton Center and walk the loop formed by the connection of the Street level and River Level trails. This roughly 1.5-mile walk takes around 30-40 minutes at a leisurely pace and is near many downtown restaurants, shops, and bars. Perfect for walking with friends and those looking for a low-impact walk.
  • Park to Park Adventure: Each of the major parks along the path is just under 5 miles from one another. That means a walker can expect about a 90-minute walk for the spans between Joyce Park and Marcum Park, as well as between Marcum Park and Rentschler Forest. Mix in intentional stops to picnic along the way or stop somewhere downtown to enhance your experience!
  • Go for a Riverfront Run: A run between each of the previously mentioned parks should take an average of around 30 to 40 minutes. For those training for a 5k, you might consider a route departing from the Fitton Center for Creative Arts with a turnaround and return at Lodder Park as it’s the closest in distance.
  • Take in Some Nature: Some of the best natural sites to behold include the canal side path that can most easily be accessed from the Canal Road trailhead. To go from the trailhead to the river is about 1.5 miles (3 miles total for a round trip turnaround) and includes the historic small hydroelectric plant along the way. Another great area to explore is the Riverside Natural Area, which can be most easily accessed by heading north from Joyce Park. While only a half-mile away, the natural area includes many miles of trails to explore and an observation mound near the Hawks RC Airport.

By Bike:

  • A Short or Leisure Ride: If you follow the same ‘Park to Park’ paths outlined above, the average biker will find it takes approximately 25 minutes to travel between each of the parks. When visiting downtown, cyclists should take note of the numerous sculptural bike racks near restaurants, bars, and shops.
  • There and Back Again: For those looking for a local biking challenge, a departure from Marcum Park headed to the park in either direction and then returning will be just under a 10-mile ride. Taking about 45 minutes to an hour for the average cyclist. Alternatively, to ride the entire length of the trail from Joyce Park to Rentschler Forest and back would take around 1.5 hours for the almost 20-mile round trip.


Other Considerations for Planning your Experience:

  • Include an Art Stop: The galleries at the Fitton Center for Creative Arts are free and open to the public for viewing. The facility also features award-winning bathrooms, convenient bike parking out front, and AC for hot days. The Fitton Center also makes for a great launch point to explore the many sculptures you can see in Downtown Hamilton.
  • Take in Some History: The Soldiers, Sailors, & Pioneers Monument is open on most Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 10 AM – 4 PM. The monument includes an exhibit on 20th-century American wars, featuring military uniforms, military medals, and photographs.
  • Take a Break at Local Businesses: With many different businesses to visit within a mile of each downtown trailhead, it's easy and fun to include a stop at various local spots. 


These enriching experiences have been made possible in large part due to the efforts of Dave Belew, the trails now name-sake. On May 10, 2024, the Hamilton portion of the Greater Miami River Trail will officially be renamed in honor of Dave Belew. The celebration will be held inside the Fitton Center for Creative Arts, rain or shine. For more information about potentially attending this event please contact the Hamilton Community Foundation. Read More about Dave's role in the trail here.


Trailhead locations map