Sometimes just enough is enough. In the case of central Ohio’s Alum Creek Phase 1 (P1) mountain bike trails, they’re just close enough (less than a half-hour north of downtown Columbus) and just long enough (6 miles total with bailouts) for a perfect after-work ride.
Start at the parking lot on Lewis Center Road and tackle all or part of the 6-mile P1 Trail (note that parking fills up fast on weekends, so get there early or wait until afternoon). P1 is well designed with plenty of armoring (where wet sections are paved with stone) and boardwalk-style features to keep it in good shape. The trail system is one-way, but with bailout trails in case you can’t or don’t want to complete the entire system. It’s more technical (i.e., root-laden) than flowy, and though there are no major uphills or descents (this is Columbus, after all), it’s not strictly flat since the trails are built around the drainages. And leave the sunscreen at home—it’s almost entirely in the woods, but still with some nice views of Alum Creek Lake.
Trailhead amenities are port-a-potties and a bike repair station; no water. These free, public trails come to you courtesy of the Central Ohio Mountain Biking Organization (COMBO), so give them some love—whether it’s a donation online or at the trailhead, or by becoming a volunteer. Finally, give the trails themselves a little love by letting them dry out before riding. Visit COMBO’s website and click on the trail conditions tab before you head out. Alternately, you can walk or run the trails, but be sure to stick with the one-way direction and leave your best friend at home—dogs are not allowed.