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Botzum Trailhead
2928 Riverview Rd., Akron 44313

Big Bend Trailhead
1337 Merriman Rd., Akron 44313

Memorial Parkway Trailhead
499 Memorial Pkwy., Akron 44310


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Hours
Trail: 6 a.m. - Sunset
Lots: 6 a.m. - 11 p.m.

 

Mustill Store Trailhead
248 Ferndale St., Akron 44304


Beech Street Trailhead
40 Beech St., Akron 44308

Summit Lake Trailhead
380 W. Crosier St., Akron 44311

Wilbeth Road Trailhead
392 W. Wilbeth Rd., Akron 44314

Manchester Road Trailhead
2740 Manchester Rd., Akron 44314

Barberton Trailhead
5 Fairview Ave., Barberton 44203

Wolf Creek Trailhead
33 Snyder Ave., Barberton 44203

Vanderhoof Road Trailhead
2445 Vanderhoof Rd.
New Franklin 44203


Franklin Trailhead
2328 Center Rd., New Franklin 44216

Clinton Trailhead
2749 North St., Clinton 44216

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Towpath Trail
yellow bar History & Wildlife

The Ohio & Erie Canal was a technological marvel. The inland waterway incorporated a series of sandstone locks that enabled boats to climb differences in elevation along the Continental Divide. The steepest section of the canal was between Akron and the Little Cuyahoga River. In a single mile, 15 locks, or "steps," were necessary. Canal boats, which were pulled by mules on the towpath, made it possible to ship goods from the Great Lakes (Lake Erie) to the Gulf of Mexico (via the Ohio and Mississippi rivers). Locally, the canal, which opened between Cleveland and Akron in 1827, can be directly credited with the growth of Akron. The city's population swelled thanks to the bustling activity surrounding the tight bundle of canal locks.

By 1880 the canal's significance was in decline due to the introduction of railroads. After the flood of 1913 the canal was abandoned – less than 100 years after it opened, and for decades the canal was largely forgotten about or ignored. The concept of restoring the towpath for use as a multipurpose trail began to emerge in the 1980s, and the first section of the Towpath Trail opened in 1993.


Northern Summit County: Discover the beauty of
 Cuyahoga Valley National
 Park (CVNP) along the
 Towpath Trail in northern Summit
 County. From the trail, you can make
 connections to natural and historic 
sites as well as to the Cuyahoga Valley
 Scenic Railroad at boarding stations along the way.

Be sure to stop by NPS visitor centers in Boston, Peninsula and Hunt Farm. In Boston, one of Summit County's oldest settlements, you can take a hike over 
to the magnificent 65-foot Brandywine Falls, located just about a mile west of 
the Towpath Trail, or spend a night in the National Park at the Stanford House. Continue your journey south to the charming village of Peninsula, an original canal "seaport town" and a popular trailhead stop.

Wander through history in Deep Lock Quarry Metro Park. Then, the towpath becomes a boardwalk over Beaver Marsh, a State Watchable Wildlife location, just north of the Ira Road Trailhead. Birdlife here is abundant and showy, and helps demonstrate why Outdoor Photographer named CVNP one of the Top 25 places in the world for nature photography. As you head towards Botzum—and the southern boundaries of the National Park—you'll find a natural gateway to the city of Akron.


Central Summit County (City of Akron): North of the Big Bend Trailhead,
 a bronze statue of an ancient
traveler marks the terminus of 
the trail used to carry canoes from the 
Cuyahoga across the Continental Divide
 to the Tuscarawas River, which in 1785
 was the boundary reserving to native 
people in perpetuity the territory west of the Portage.

The Little Cuyahoga River provides a habitat for aquatic wildlife and birds. Frogs and salamanders mate and lay eggs in the pools that collect in the flood plains. Native trees include cottonwood, sycamore, elm and silver maple. Wildflowers abound along the trail.

New residences creep into sight at Memorial Parkway, as the trail parallels the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, which has a station at Northside on Ridge Street. One of Akron's earliest buildings is the Mustill Store (1850), home of Cascade Locks Park Association. On weekends April through October, enjoy the exhibits of canal life in early Akron.

The Northside Arts District is east of the trail between North Street and Quaker. The Ramada Hotel is at old Lock 5. In Downtown, the towpath splits at Bowery, near the 1929 Akron Civic Theatre. Water rushes through newly reconstructed Lock 4. The city's Lock 3 hosts 200,000 concertgoers annually. At Lock 2, Canal Park is home to the Akron Aeros. The Richard Howe House, home of the Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition, is at Lock 1. Downtown abounds with restaurants and clubs.

South of Exchange is a distinctly industrial environment, including the buildings of Canal Place—the former B.F. Goodrich factory complex—the largest such assembly of factory buildings in the U.S. during World War II, when synthetic rubber was developed here.

Summit Lake, once part of the Indian portage, has a "floating towpath," a throwback to the original when mules pulling canal boats had to step into the lake 
to get boats to the other shore. Near the southern terminus of the Portage Path, also marked by a statue, was Young's Hotel, built on Nesmith Lake in 1850. It operated until recent decades.


Southern Summit County: Though somewhat less traveled than sections to the north, the Towpath Trail is no less beautiful, historic or enjoyable as 
it passes through Barberton, New Franklin and Clinton before reaching the Stark County line.

In Barberton, showy shrubs and wildflowers flourish. The Tuscarawas River and water-filled canal provide habitat for beavers, muskrats, several varieties of turtles and frogs, and great blue herons, which may be seen stalking fish. 

The last completed stretch of the trail in Summit County—between Snyder Avenue and Eastern Road in Barberton—was dedicated in May 2012. The newest section includes the longest bridge managed by Metro Parks, Serving Summit County. It spans the Tuscarawas River and the old canal.

From Barberton into New Franklin, between Eastern and Center roads, the trail is built on land leased by Metro Parks from PPG Industries. Over the last 30 years, PPG has worked to restore the natural environment here, first welcoming back wildlife and now hikers, runners and cyclists.

In Clinton, the rich, saturated soil of the river floodplain supports wildflowers from spring to fall, luring a variety of insects including many butterflies. Trees that thrive in wet areas—hackberry, elm, silver maple and swamp white oak—are abundant here, too. 

 

Amenities

There are 41 miles of the multipurpose Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail in Summit County. Metro Parks manages half of that distance, from the southern boundary of Cuyahoga Valley National Park to the Stark County line, except about three miles in Akron.

Please use trail etiquette while enjoying the towpath.


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