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GO! Readers' Choice Awards

Cumberland Falls from the Sheltowee Trace Trail, KY. Photo by Attila Horvath.

We asked about your favorite places for adventure in the Ohio River region. You answered. The results? Beta on the best places to visit in 2009.

Best bike path: Little Miami, OH
From Milford (near Cincinnati) to Xenia, the Little Miami serves as a hub for more than 100 miles of bike paths in southwest Ohio. With plenty of amenities and now part of the Underground Railroad Bicycle Route, the Little Miami deserves the credit our readers give it. “We love the trail and we love sharing it,” says Joni Williamson, Greene County marketing and public relations specialist.

Another big vote getter was the HockHocking Adena bikeway between Athens and Nelsonville, OH.

Best mountain biking destination: MetroParks Mountain Bike Area (MoMBA), Dayton
Dayton's Five Rivers MetroParks took a previously underutilized piece of land in 2007 and turned it into MoMBA, a dedicated mountain biking park with 8.3 miles of trail. MoMBA isn’t just receiving votes, however – it received 3,500 visitors within the first nine weeks it was open.

“We continue to be thankful for the public's enthusiastic response to our efforts to make the Dayton region the outdoor recreation capital of the Midwest,” says Greg Brumitt, director of outdoor recreation for Five Rivers MetroParks.

Best urban escape: Frick Park, Pittsburgh and E.P. “Tom” Sawyer State Park, Louisville (tie)
Lots of people love their local parks. Especially Pittsburghers and Louisvillians (we just wanted to use those words). Frick, right in the heart of the Steel City, is a 561-acre oasis that offers mountain biking, hiking, cross-country skiing and even lawn bowling. How cool is that?

E.P. “Tom” Sawyer, near Louisville, is an all-around park serving organized sports teams and others with trails, a dog park, a BMX course and an archery range. “We meet big city needs with a small country community feel and scenery,” says park manager Chris Head.

Best adventure town: Fayetteville, WV
With stiff competition in this category – Ohiopyle, PA and Davis, WV were among the vote-getters – Fayetteville, along the rim of the New River Gorge, triumphs. Maybe it’s the paddling, climbing, cycling and hiking all located in one little vortex of fun. Maybe it’s the quality restaurants and gear shop. Maybe it’s all of the above. “There are outdoor experiences available for novices to experts,” says Cindy Dragan, assistant director of the New River Gorge Convention and Visitors Bureau and chair of the Bridge Day Commission. Hey, maybe it’s Bridge Day.

Best whitewater river: Gauley River, WV
Again, there was stiff competition in this category – including the New River (The New), the Youghiogheny (the Yough – say it like yawk). But really. The Gauley has a 27-mile stretch of whitewater. The 10-mile upper Gauley is chock full of class IV and V whitewater. Beth Gill, marketing manager for ACE Adventure Resort said there are few commercially run rivers in the world that have the quantity and quality of rapids of the Gauley. “It definitely has earned its place in the world's top 10.”

Best backpack trail: Sheltowee Trace, KY
The 260-mile trail runs the length of the Daniel Boone National Forest from close to the Ohio River to the Tennessee line. “The Sheltowee Trace has some really nice sections for backpackers,” says Tim Eling, Red River Gorge Manager for the Daniel Boone, “It also allows people to connect with other trails to make interesting loops.”

Tim says his favorite sections of the trail are around Cumberland Falls, the Red River Gorge and around Cave Run Lake. Readers also preferred the Natural Bridge State Park area in the Red River Gorge. Look for Sheltowee Trace in Get Out!’s destinations in 2009.

Best adventure festival: Gearfest, Dayton
Not only do we love outdoor adventure, we also love a party. What better than to combine the two? There’s Bridge Day at the New River Gorge, the Venture Outdoors Festival in Pittsburgh, but our readers are most fond of Gearfest in Dayton, sponsored by Five Rivers Outdoors.

Greg Brumitt, director of outdoor recreation for Five Rivers MetroParks, said the results show that the region’s outdoor enthusiasts appreciate FRO’s commitment to connecting them to quality outdoor recreation opportunities.

Best cave: Carter Caves, KY
In a surprise upset, Carter Caves beats better-known Mammoth Cave, both of which are in the heart of America’s cave country – Kentucky. With lots of underground and above ground fun, camping, a lodge and of course the Crawlathon, Carter Caves does have a lot to offer to hard-core cavers and beginners alike. The future of caving and cave tours in Kentucky, however is uncertain right now. The white-nose syndrome has been causing massive kills among cave-dwelling bats in the Northeast and some caves are currently closed to the public, even in our region. Stay tuned on this one. We’ll post what we hear in our news and info section on the front page of Get Out!

Best ski resort: Seven Springs, PA
Seven Spring’s five terrain parks, 31 slopes and trails plus lodging, dining and a spa make this 285-acre mountain fun central for not just Pittsburgh weekenders but visitors from throughout the Ohio Valley and beyond. There’s still time in 2009 to get some runs in. "Everyone at Seven Springs is honored that Get Out! magazine and its readers rated us so highly,” says Anna Weltz, communications specialist for Seven Springs.

Best gear shop: Outdoor Source, Columbus
GO! readers righteously support local shops (other popular shops include Great Miami Outfitters in Dayton and Exkursion in Pittsburgh). Outdoor Source’s original store is in upper Arlington they opened a second store in Westerville in 2008. Outdoor Source offers gear tips on their website and classes, including kayak demos.