Ashtabula County, in the Northeastern corner of Ohio, takes pride in being the “Covered Bridge Capital of Ohio”. A throwback to days gone by, one can find 19 of these nifty bridges scattered throughout the county, several near beautiful parks that invite one to stop and relax for a bit. The bridges include restored bridges from the 1800s through several newer bridges up to the latest opened in 2008. America’s longest and shortest covered bridges are found on the route, as well as a pedestrian covered bridge, and an unused covered bridge that no longer crosses anything! The complete self-guided driving tour, also popular with motorcyclists and bicyclists, covers 69 miles through several cities and villages. A tour map can be requested or downloaded at the Ashtabula County Convention and Visitors Bureau, where you can also find information on the Covered Bridge Festival in October.
While the most popular season for the bridge tour is autumn, each season brings something special to see around the bridges- especially for photographers. Spring brings the bright-colored blooms, Summer brings cool shady picnic spots along creeks and rivers, and Autumn brings The Color. Winter? While the roads may be a bit dicey in spots during the winter, nothing beats a covered bridge in snow for the perfect “Currier and Ives” Christmas image. If you do the whole tour in one drive, plan on spending several hours to the better part of a day. My choice is to pack a picnic cooler, but there are plenty of places to stop for food (or gas) along the way, including Grand River Manor, Ashtabula County’s oldest tavern, and a wide variety of wineries, small eateries and the ever-present fast food standbys. You’ll also pass several small shops and farmer’s market that are always worth a visit. All in all, a beautiful, relaxing drive in the country with at least 19 scenic views along the way- enjoy!