By Amanda Williams
Posted On: May 21, 2016
The Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath is a hike and bike trail that stretches for 85 miles through Cuyahoga, Summit, Stark, and Tuscarawas counties. The scenic trail follows the path that mules once used to pull canal boats up and down the Ohio & Erie Canal, back when it was one of the easiest ways to transport passengers and goods in Northeast Ohio.
Today, the trail is used by cyclists, runners, hikers, and more, drawing more than 2.5 million people annually. It passes through four county park districts, as well as Cuyahoga Valley National Park, and has something for everyone.
Here's my picks for the 6 best pit-stops along the trail!
1. Canal Exploration Center
Located at Lock 38, the Canal Exploration Center allows visitors to learn about the history of the Ohio & Erie Canal and see a restored lock up close.
Forget the Boston you know of in Massachusetts. This Boston is one of the oldest settlements in Summit County, and is where you can find the official visitor center for Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Across the street is a Trail Mix store, which sells CVNP apparel as well as snacks and ice cream in the summer months.
3. Peninsula Depot
The Peninsula depot of the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad is a great place to start (or end) any adventure on the towpath. The depot is home to the popular Winking Lizard restaurant, as well as Century Cycles, where people can rent bikes to take on the towpath or to use on the Scenic Railroad's Bike Aboard! program.
4. Szalay's Farm
Not far from Peninsula, Szalay's makes a fun (and delicious) stop along the towpath. Check out the fresh produce in the summer, grab a cold drink or ear of grilled corn for a snack, and take a break on the swinging picnic tables outside.
5. Beaver Marsh
Beaver Marsh can be found north of the Ira Road Trailhead in Cuyahoga Valley National Park, where the towpath turns into a wooden boardwalk. This is one of the best places along the towpath to see birds and other wildlife – in fact, the area is listed as a state Watchable Wildlife location, and is one reasons CVNP has been recognized as an important bird area by the Audubon Society of Ohio.
6. Mustill Store
If you're picking up the towpath in Akron, the Mustill Store visitor center and museum is a good stop, especially during the summer months (it's only open April-October). The store/house was built in the 1850s and has exhibits inside that tell the story of canal-era Akron.
For a complete (and interactive) map of all the various points of interest between Cleveland and New Philadelphia, check out the Ohio & Erie Canalway website: https://www.ohioanderiecanalway.com/Main/Map.aspx.
For more outdoor inspiration, Find It Here at Ohio.org.