The Serpent's Claw
Map & Directions Below
The problem with an area filled with rocks that were not flattened by the glaciers during the ice ages is it's full of obstacles, so when you make a path or road you go around or over the rocks since you can't go through them.
The nice thing about an area filled with rocks that were not flattened by the glaciers, is that the roads go all around and over the rocks, meaning the backroads, literally, rock! And roll. And wind. And oscillate. And meander. And twist, and undulate. And surge, swell, heave, ripple, and billow. And then you put rubber wheels on them and you do too!
The Serpent's Claw includes several roads that leave the fair town of Gallipolis, OH (pronounced Gal′- a - po - lees′) and swing south to twist around and through the Crown City Wilderness Area, sight of a former open strip mine and bisected by steep, narrow, challenging roads. It comes in at just under 60 miles, and Google says it's 1.5 hours, but I'd argue you'd be missing a lot if you didn't take at least 2. The Claw sticks to the 2-lane paved roads, but an adventure rider or off-road driver could probably spend a few happy hours and days exploring the gravel and dirt possibilities of the Crown City WA. Send an email and let me know how that goes for you. firstname.lastname@example.org
WARNING : these roads are seriously steep and winding at times so if your passenger tends to motion sickness, you might want to try them another day. They are also virtually deserted in parts, so if you don't think you can wait patiently for help if you get stuck then be sure to travel in groups. Or just go solo. It's not like it's Death Valley or anything.
So, after a lovely night and breakfast in Gallipolis head south on Route 7 along the Ohio River. After a couple of miles veer right onto SR 218. Stay the course and enjoy the ride as you move from river flatlands into curvaceous field and forest. Not far outside of Scottown SR 218 joins SR 217 just keep on forward to Scottown. Stop by the Scottown bridge (covered, renovated, foot traffic only). Just a little past the bridge there is a little pizza place. Stop in. Use the bathroom. Say hey to Hank (the veteran who owns the place - nice fella). Buy some snacks or lunch. Hear some stories of the area. Gird your loins for the return trip via SR 775.
Jump onto SR 775 all the way back north until it dead ends at SR 141 (the second time you meet it - the first time just swing right to stay on SR 775 and see the Wilgus Rock Jail pictured below). When you get to the terminus, if you park at the corner and walk a piece up 141 N you'll see the warning sign. A little late now - but a good photo op. Traffic does not slow and there's no pull-off so use caution. No sign on southern intersection of SR 141 and SR 775. ? I guess people from Gallipolis know better than to try it?
Take SR 141 S back into Gallipolis. Take a nap or a picnic in the park. Hit one of the local watering holes (listing to follow soon). Stick your feet in the Ohio River. It's been a hilly day and you've traversed the Serpent's Claw.
Turn by Turn Directions
Out of Gallipolis take Route 7 South
Turn right onto SR 218 a couple of miles from town
Stay straight onto SR 217 to Scottown
Turn right onto SR 775
Wind along 775, at the intersection with SR 141 turn right
See the Wilgus Jail - sandstone carved out for a room with two windows and a door.
Keep going on SR 775.
Turn right on SR 141 back to Gallipolis
About 60 miles, and 1.5 hours (if you hurry)
Turn left on SR 141 and straight at SR 233 to see some cool renovated log cabins.
Follow the Coil back up to Albany (blueheronrun.com) or points north