How to Get Lost in Ohio’s Amish Country

ClotheslineOctober is leaf-peeping time again in Ohio’s Amish Country and part of the fun is losing yourself in the vibrant fall colors and quaint sights of the area.

Especially in the October high season, the heavy traffic and crowds in the tourist areas can snarl your day. If you’d like to search out your own adventure, we suggest getting off the main routes to see what the locals see every day. You’ll find things that you’ll never see in the city such as colorful red bank barns, fawn-colored Jersey cows, buggies and wagons, sweeping views of rolling hills and Amish stores scattered here and there.

Here’s a driving tour that will take you off the main tourist roads and into “the interior” of Ohio Amish Country. We guarantee that you’ll feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere. Hang in there and enjoy the ride!

Get Lost in Charm and New Bedford

View MapThe entire route is approximately 18 miles route trip.

Part 1: Walnut Creek to Charm – 6 miles
  1. Start your backroad tour in Walnut Creek, Ohio.Purple Martin houses on an Amish Farm
  2. Travel east (towards Sugarcreek) on State Route 39 to Country Road 114.
  3. Turn right onto Country Road 114. Note the impressive red barn and pond next to the road.
  4. At the fork in the road, bear to the right onto County Road 135.
  5. After a 90º turn in the road, turn left onto Township Road 374 which leads straight up a hill. To the locals, this is called “Brown Ridge”.
  6. Remain on Township Rd 374 for approximately 2 miles.
  7. When you reach the stop sign at Township Road 369, turn left.
  8. Township Road 369 will travel along a ridge, then descend towards Country Road 70.
  9. Turn right onto Country Road 70 to reach the town of Charm.

If you’ve reached the end of your rope or kids’ patience, Charm is a good place to get back on the main roads or stop and shop. Turning right onto State Route 557 will take you back toward Route 39 and Berlin.

Part II: Charm to New Bedford – 5 miles

Even the township trustees jokingly refer to this area as “Siberia”, but don’t worry. This is definitely away from the tourist drag but it’s not hard to get back to state roads if you wish. New Bedford does not play a part in the tourism industry, so you will not find restaurants or tourist attractions. You will, however, find a harness/shoe shop, grocery store and grain elevator here.

  1. From County Road 70, turn left onto State Route 557. In less than a half mile, you should see the turnoff for County Route 600.
  2. Turn right onto Country Road 600. This road will wind and roll up and down hills, but eventually you will arrive on the “Flat Ridge” for extraordinary views across the countryside. This is one of the highest ridges in the area.
  3. Stay on Country Road 600 for about 5 miles until you reach the small village of New Bedford.
  4. New Bedford is located on State Route 643.

Again, if you’re ready to quit, you can turn left onto Route 643 and follow it all the way to State Route 93. Left onto Route 93 will take you back to the junction of Route 39 in Sugarcreek.

Part III: New Bedford to Farmerstown – 4 miles

Dairy CowsFarmerstown is a little Amish burg that has a few small businesses and a livestock auction (Tip: Auction Day is Tuesday.)

  1. Turn left onto State Route 643 in New Bedford. This is a wide, easy road to travel, but has scenic views of farmsteads along the wide valley and less traffic than most State Roads. Follow 643 for about 2 1/2 miles to County Road 114.
  2. Turn left onto County Road 114.
  3. Follow 114 for 1 1/2 miles until you reach the junction of State Route 557.

For another “shortcut” back to civilization, you may turn right onto State Rt 557 to reach State Route 93 into Sugarcreek.

Part IV: Farmerstown to Walnut Creek – 4 miles
  1. Cross State Route 557 to continue on Country Road 114. This is a blind intersection so be especially careful of traffic coming from your right.
  2. After traveling about 2 1/2 miles, Country Road 114 junctions with County Road 70. Stay to the right on 114.
  3. After 3 1/2 miles, you should find yourself in familiar territory. Stay to the right on the 90º turn and you will soon end up where you started – at State Route 39 below Walnut Creek.
Good to Know: About etiquette and safety on the back roadsFall in Amish Country
  • Cows crossing the road and farm machinery may be in your way. Farmers usually bring in the cows for milking around 4 to 5am and again at 4 to 5pm.
  • Leave your RV or camper trailer at the campground. Roads are often narrow and difficult to navigate with a large vehicle.
  • Bicyclists and pedestians with children are common. Also, be aware of loose pets who may be trailing along.
  • Take lots of pictures but just be respectful of the fact that Amish adults do not pose for photos.
  • Fences are there for two reasons – to keep animals in and people out. You never know – there may be a cranky bull on the other side of the fence, so it’s best to stay out of pastures.
  • Look out for semi trucks loaded with chicken feed or milk – they take up a lot of room on the road and often drive faster than they should.
  • If you follow a buggy, dodging “horse apples” can cause accidents. Driving through them is part of country life. It won’t hurt your car and the car wash can take off any residue.
  • If you think you’re lost, don’t be afraid to ask a passing bicyclist or walker. They’ll tell you where you are, but probably not in terms of streets. A GPS or a map will still be useful.

 

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