The Cottle Ditch trails sometimes feel like walking through someone’s backyard, but they are just hidden, shaded, secret trails!
Driving – A 2 minute drive from Ashland Plaza. Take Main Street south towards SOU but turn right on Gresham at the library. That dead ends into Holly. Turn right then immediately left again onto Guthrie. In 2 blocks veer right onto Herbert. That turns right and within 3 houses you’ll see the entrance on your left.
Parking – Park on the side of the small, neighborhood street.
The Adventure – The Cottle Ditch Trails start in small Cottle Park, and follow the irrigation ditch through the neighborhoods above Ashland and SOU. This is not a straight shot and will jump back and forth from trail, to street, to driveway, back to trail. It passes through tiny Liberty Street Park and ends on Elkader Street. From there, you could continue on the Pinecrest Ditch Trail all the way to Park Street and the Oredson-Todd Trails. All of this requires a good sense of direction and probably a map.
There are 2 small trails heading east from the Cottle property. Both travel along private property but are well maintained and completely legal. The upper trail hits Waterline Road and then turns back into a trail, while the lower trail crosses a number of small roads and driveways. They both will hit Morton Street. The lower trail continues on Lisa lane which takes you to Liberty Street Park. The upper trail stays on Waterline, and that also takes you to Liberty Street Park. There, you can take a trail downhill to the top of Liberty Street, or head uphill into the woods for a while. The trail from here begins to splinter in a number of directions. Some trails will dead end, some will head up to Ashland Loop Road, and one will take you out to Ivy Lane. That’s fine, but if you explore a bit, you will come out to an open hillside above Mountain Ave where the trail drops down to Elkader.
This series of trails is for a wanderer. You are right next to private (albeit shady and wooded) property much of the time so you have to be comfortable and cool with that proximity.