The Serpent's Belly

Map & Directions Below

"Oh the Belly of the Serpent is a long belly, it's a round belly, it hugs the shore, and winds some more, oh the belly of the Serpent is a fine, long belly!"

This is the chant you'll be singing as you swing through Gallia and Lawrence Counties on the trail of the Serpent's Belly. This is a fine day ride of just over 100 miles and 2.5 hours, leaving from and ending in the scenic riverfront town of Gallipolis, OH (pronounced Gal′- a - po - lees′). If you didn't spend the night glamping (glamour camping - roughing it in style) at Blue Heron Run up on the Serpent's Chin, then you're all ready to launch your adventure. Check out local lodgings and restaurants, as well as the historic river road, stunning architecture that reflects the town's French heritage, and be sure to tour the Mound Hill Cemetery just up SR 141 from town - the views from the top of the hill are idyllic, majestic, and peaceful. Be aware that unlike the other southern Ohio route, the Serpent's Claw, this route includes a huge swath of Ohio River frontage from Ironton up to Gallipolis, which you will share with the usual river road traffic. You'll begin, though, by hightailing it into the hills and valleys of this unglaciated fertile region on SR 141 out of Gallipolis.

Following breakfast and a tour of the views from the cemetery, hop back onto SR 141 into the hills. The longer you ride this part of the belly, the more you will adore it. People sit on porches and wave as you wind past, horses and mules graze in pastures, Amish wagons trundle along at the clip of yesteryear. The road crosses the Symmes Creek five times - and floods when there's been a great deal of rain, so choose a non-damp time of year to explore it. At the intersection of SR 141 and SR 775 in the town of Wilgus, if you turn onto SR 775 N for 50-100 feet you'll see the old Stone Jail carved from a large piece of sandstone with a doorway, two square window holes, and the letters LEO and date 1817. There is not a pull-off and the stone is on private land, but do what you can to be amazed by frontier ingenuity.

Back on SR 141, it is sweeping, majestic, peaceful, and welcoming. In the town of Aid, about halfway between Gallipolis and Ironton, sits R & D Giovanni's Pizza on the sharp right turn just after the Symmes Valley Schools. Keep on going all the way to Route 52 on SR 141 - the 12 miles closest to Ironton and the Ohio River are hillier than the central Symmes Creek valley. Route 52 is known as the Ohio River Scenic Byway and becomes Route 7 near Proctorville. Stay on Route 7, or stop and view the sites. After about 50 miles of river front you'll find yourself cruising back into Gallipolis, and it is time for a beer or iced tea and a walk in the park or tour of a museum. 

"Oh the Belly of the Serpent is a long belly, it's a round belly, it hugs the shore, and winds some more, oh the belly of the Serpent is a fine, long belly!"

Turn by Turn Directions

Route 7 S through Gallipolis

SR 141 W

Stay on SR 141 almost to Ironton

Route 52 E

52 becomes Route 7

Route 7 to Gallipolis

Side-Winder - If, like me, you prefer winding backroads to traffic on the river you can take SR 243 out of Coal Grove off Route 52 to cut off the lower corner of the belly by winding through hilly, scenic Ohio farmland and forest. Follow SR 243 all the way to its terminus in Proctorville and you're back on Route 7 to enjoy the Ohio River for a bit before landing back in Gallipolis.

The Serpent's Belly - Map

Mound Hill Cemetery looking down at the Ohio River - also known as Fortification Hill. Just south of Gallipolis off SR 141. Stunning.

Mound Hill Cemetery looking down at the Ohio River - also known as Fortification Hill. Just south of Gallipolis off SR 141. Stunning.

Wilgus intersection of SR 141 & SR 775 - just on 775 N. LEO 1817 carved on front. Reportedly used as a rock jail in early 1800's. Room inside about 12'x12'x6' high. 

Wilgus intersection of SR 141 & SR 775 - just on 775 N. LEO 1817 carved on front. Reportedly used as a rock jail in early 1800's. Room inside about 12'x12'x6' high. 

On the main drag Route 7 through Gallipolis. Beautiful city park facing the storefronts. Gorgeous views of the river, historical markers, and homes/museums. Stay a couple of days. Feel the river breeze on your face. Hop out onto the Serpent's Beard or try a local vineyard's wares.

On the main drag Route 7 through Gallipolis. Beautiful city park facing the storefronts. Gorgeous views of the river, historical markers, and homes/museums. Stay a couple of days. Feel the river breeze on your face. Hop out onto the Serpent's Beard or try a local vineyard's wares.