Summit Metro Parks is pleased to share updates on upcoming and ongoing mission-based projects that aim to improve quality of life for Summit County residents.
Summit Metro Parks staff have worked for more than a decade to deliver the Freedom Trail -- a rails-to-trails multipurpose trail conversion -- to Summit County residents. Completed in phases, this trail begins at the Portage County line and is currently ridable to Union Street in Akron.
Phase 3 of Freedom Trail is complete to Lincoln St. in Akron, and planning is also underway for the final trail segment. Phase 4 will allow riders to cross from Downtown Akron to connect to the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail near the Spaghetti Warehouse.
See Freedom Trail Phase 4 overview presentation
See Freedom Trail Phase 4 meeting update, including 2021 public input
FREEDOM TRAIL: CONNECTION to THE PORTAGE
Summit Metro Parks plans to connect the Freedom Trail from the newly constructed trailhead at Middlebury Rd. to “The Portage,” Portage County’s seven-mile Hike & Bike Trail. Supported by a grant from Akron Metropolitan Area Transportation Study (AMATS), the new connection will include a bridge over the existing CSX railroad, and a switchback-style path over the grade change between the two trails. Please view the project details (pdf).
A diverse group of community partners is working to remove the 420-foot-wide, 60-foot-tall dam within Gorge Metro Park. The dam, which is no longer in use, is a significant impediment to the water quality of the Cuyahoga River. Dam removal is expected to improve river ecology, create recreational opportunities and drive economic benefits.
The dam removal project is managed by a group of stakeholders that includes the City of Akron, City of Cuyahoga Falls, FirstEnergy, County of Summit, Summit County Council, Summit Metro Parks, Ohio Lake Erie Commission, Ohio EPA and U.S. EPA.
MUNROE FALLS AND SILVER CREEK MASTER PLANS
Summit Metro Parks staff are comprehensively evaluating how well Munroe Falls and Silver Creek metro parks are meeting the needs of the Summit County community and which activities our visitors would like to enjoy in the future. We have completed two rounds of public input.
Please watch the videos to learn more about our plans for both parks. Note: The public input process ended October 21, 2023.
With funding totaling $4.6 million from the Federal Emergency
Management Agency’s (FEMA’s) Hazard Mitigation Grant Program and Clean Ohio, Summit Metro Parks recently completed erosion control and habitat enhancement projects vital to the long-term sustainability of its oldest and most-visited park. As of July 2023, the project is complete.
This work has been part of an ongoing effort to reinforce and protect the roadway and infrastructure adjacent to the steam channel. Channel improvements included grading and placement of stone along the banks and in the channel. It also included structures to improve wildlife habitats and remove impediments for fish and wildlife migration. Removal of the falls at the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad bridge and the Mingo Drive bridge now allows aquatic wildlife to migrate from the Cuyahoga River into the park.
In addition to this work, critical to the future of Sand Run, the park district has announced that the parkway section between Portage Path and Merriman Rd. has been permanently closed to vehicles. Construction will begin in late December to expand the Jogging Trail at the east end of Sand Run Parkway, offering enhanced connections while further protecting the park’s natural resources. The construction will take place between North Portage Path and Merriman Road, and include the removal of a culvert, placement of a pedestrian bridge, narrowing of the road to trail width and removal of roadway elements. The resulting trail will have a similar surface as other sections of the Jogging Trail and will connect users to the Valley Link and Towpath trails near Big Bend.
Continuing through May 2024, this section will be closed to all pedestrian traffic as construction occurs. Visitors are encouraged to continue using other trails and connections throughout Sand Run Metro Park and look for project updates on social media.
Acquired by the park district in 2016, the Valley View Area of Cascade Valley Metro Park in Akron has already undergone a significant transformation and continues to evolve and take shape. Several substantial state and federal grant awards have helped the park district re-naturalize the land and reimagine the property’s historic barn that once served as a golf clubhouse.
In fall of 2021, the park district launched a prototype hiking trail near the barn, which allows visitors access to explore the area and watch us grow. Reservations for events in 2022 opened October 1 for the restored barn lodge.
With river restoration complete, the next phase of the project is developing access to the Cuyahoga River. Features will include a kayak and canoe put-in, a scenic walking trail, restrooms and a protecting gathering space. This project is expected to be completed in summer 2024.