Their mission of our 82-mile trip was twofold- scout locations and logistics for a potential overnight cycling fundraiser, and experience some of the myriad joys of spending a day riding the Towpath.
Our journey began at the Steel Heritage Center in Stage 2 of the Towpath Trail Extension Project. After about a mile of signed, on-road riding we connected with the current northern end of the Towpath Trail at the Ohio & Erie Canal Reservation.
The Ohio & Erie Canal Reservation offers a unique mix of nature and industry, blue herons fish in the former canal while a high-level railroad bridge reminds visitors how the Cuyahoga Valley helped shaped Cleveland into an industrial powerhouse.
The Ohio & Erie Canal Reservation leads to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, which at about 6 miles is almost shockingly close to Cleveland. The Trail was buzzing with cyclists and cross-country teams as we rode past attractions such as the Boston Store and Beaver Marsh. Our first rest stop was in an idyllic setting near Szalay’s Farm & Market.
Continuing south from CVNP we hit the Cascade Locks Park on the long climb to Akron- turns out it’s named “Summit County” for a reason.
The Towpath goes through downtown Akron, and features fun attractions such as the Richard Howe House and Lock 3 Park.
Continuing south on the Towpath, you realize the huge scope of the National Heritage Area- there is no way to do justice to all of the attractions in one day, it’s better to just absorb the atmosphere and start to plan your return visit.
We reached the Southern end of the Towpath by late afternoon, from there it was a short on-road ride to Bolivar where we met with Mayor Hubble to start planning our triumphant return in Summer 2016.
The Towpath Trail runs through the heart of the Ohio & Erie Canalway National Heritage Area, it’s currently 85 miles and expanding north to Downtown Cleveland and south to New Philadelphia, Ohio.