Towpath Trail

Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail


The Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail or simply the "towpath," as it is more commonly known, is one of Ohio's longest and most scenic bikeways. When finished, it will extend about 110-miles from Lake Erie at Cleveland, to New Philadelphia.

Along with the Little Miami Scenic Trail, the towpath is one of the most popular bikeways in Ohio. Both long-distance trails are part of the larger Ohio-to-Erie Trail, a cross-state bikeway. [Scroll past 'Latest Update' to continue reading.]

Bikeway Bridge
Towpath Bridge in Independence, OH

Latest Update: 11/4/17 by OB - Run & Walk Event 11/11/17

From summitmetroparks.org, "A 5K and 1-mile walk will see 200+ participants on the trail from 7 to 11 a.m., near the Wolf Creek Trailhead.


$500K for Cleveland Stage 1 Construction - 10/31/17 by OB

From cleveland.com, "...The latest grant would help complete the short, but problematic section of trail between Harvard Avenue and Steelyard Commons by late 2019..." more

Towpath Marathon Section Closure - 9/30/17 by OB

From nps.gov, "The Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail in Cuyahoga Valley National Park will be closed to the general public starting at dusk beginning Saturday, October 7 until 2 p.m. on Sunday, October 8."

Towpath Section Closure - 9/28/17 by OB

From nps.gov, "The Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail will be closed from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Friday, October 6 and 7:00 a.m. Tuesday October 10 through 6:00 p.m. Friday, October 13 from Lock 39 Trailhead to 150 feet south of Stone Road in Valley View."

9/30/17 Running Event - 9/22/17 by OB

From summitmetroparks.org, "An organized run will see 150 on the Towpath Trail between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., between Memorial Parkway and the Big Bend Trailhead."

Cleveland Towpath Progress - 8/31/17 by OB


Section Closure (8/28) in New Franklin - 8/23/17 by OB

From summitmetroparks.org, "The Towpath Trail in New Franklin will be closed at Vanderhoof Road heading south for culvert replacement by the Village of New Franklin for approximately three days. The work is weather dependent. The trail will be closed with no detour."

New Cleveland Towpath Section Opens - 8/13/17 by OB

This new 1/4-mile segment connects with the southern end of the Scranton Flats section, and heads south under the I-90 bridges. Future construction will connect it with Steelyard Commons further south. Read more...

Summit County Trailhead Closed - 8/9/17 by OB

From summitmetroparks.org, "The Long Lake/Manchester Road parking lot is closed due to construction."

Tree Removal along Towpath Section - 7/29/17 by OB

From nps.gov, "There will be removal of hazardous trees along the Towpath between Station Rd. and Red Lock. This will take place the week of 7/31. Please be aware of the work zone and equipment in this area."

Run & Ride Events - 7/24/17 by OB

From summitmetroparks.org, "7/29 & 7/30: An endurance run will bring approximately 500 runners to the Towpath Trail from Botzum to Memorial Pkwy.

"7/29 - An organized ride will bring more cyclists than usual to the trail in Barberton."

Summit County Vehicle Break-Ins - 7/22/17 by OB

From hudsonhubtimes, "Officials from the Summit Metro Parks are asking for the public's assistance in helping to prevent break-ins like a series of seven that were reported July 20.

"Seven cars parked in six locations had windows smashed and purses taken, according to rangers.

"...the break-ins happened in Hudson at the Bike & Hike Trail/Route 303 lot; in Akron at the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail/Memorial Parkway lot; in Akron at the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail/Big Bend lot; two in Fairlawn at the Sand Run Metro Park/Revere Road lot; in Springfield Township at the Springfield Bog Metro Park and one in Munroe Falls at the Munroe Falls Metro Park Lake Area."

Summit County Event Notice - 7/17/17 OB

From summitmetroparks.org, "07/29 & 07/30/17: An endurance run will bring approximately 500 runners to the Towpath Trail from Botzum to Memorial Pkwy."

Summit County Towpath Closures - 5/30/17 OB

From Starkparks, "The Towpath Trail is closed between Beech Street and Route 59 due to storm damage." And "The Towpath Trail is closed north and south of the Clinton Trailhead due to flooding."

Towpath Closure in Navarre - 5/29/17 OB

From Starkparks, "The trail will be closed just north of Wooster St. in Navarre until further notice for a construction project next to the trail. We are working with the contractor and Village of Navarre to have the trail open on weekends during the summer season. Varying trail conditions should be expected until after the trail reopens. Please use caution and be aware of construction equipment in the area. More permanent repairs after recent flooding will be in progress as weather permits."

CVNP Towpath Closure May 9 & 10 - 5/7/17 by OB

CVNP, OH - From the CVNP, "...The Towpath Trail south of Highland/Vaughn Road will be closed Tuesday and Wednesday, May 9 & 10 from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. No detour will be posted. We apologize for any inconvenience, but this allows us to repair flood damage, the result of all this rain."

Towpath Groundbreaking April 22 - 4/20/17 by OB

Cleveland, OH - From freshwatercleveland.com, "Stage three, which spans an urban stretch of 1.9 miles between the northern entrance to Steelyard Commons and Literary Avenue in Tremont, will not only serve as a greenspace buffer between the residential areas of Tremont and industrial areas of the valley below, but also offer paths and access to the rest of the Towpath Trail."



Skull Found along Towpath - 3/29/17 OB

Independence, OH - Park officials have announced that a skull was found near Hillside and Canal roads.

The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner's Office is trying to determine an identity, while the Cuyahoga Valley National Park is handling the investigation.

Canal Rd Detour not Recommended - 3/15/17 OB

Valleyview, OH - From cleveland.com, "...Starting Wednesday, the Towpath Trail will be closed to foot and bicycle traffic between Stone Road to the north and Hillside Road to the south...

"..."'Some people may choose to move onto Canal Road, but we don't recommend that,' Barnes said. 'It's really not safe, and we don't want people to be surprised by the closure and make a wrong choice.'

"People using the Bike Aboard train service can continue to enter and exit at the Canal Exploration Center on Hillside Road, where there is plenty of parking, Barnes said."

Cleveland Towpath Groundbreaking April 22 - 3/10/17 OB

From canalwaypartners.com, "...we have found the perfect date to celebrate construction beginning on Stage 3 of the Towpath Trail - Earth Day morning Saturday, April 22nd.

"...Stage 3 of the Towpath Trail Extension will run 1.9 miles from the Northern entrance of Steelyard Commons to Literary Ave. This stage will provide an important link between Tremont, Steelyard Commons and the public outdoor recreation area Clark Fields."

Learn more about Stage 3.

Towpath Closures in Valley View - 3/9/17 OB

Valley View, OH - Major river bank stabilization work has closed a towpath section south of Highland Road in Valley View. This closure is expected to be lifted by the end of March 2017. No detour is provided. View map.

There's another closure between Hillside Road and Stone Road in Valley View. This one is expected to continue from March 6, 2017 through March 2018. From March 6 to May 26, 2017, this section will be completely closed.

On May 27, 2017, it will be open on weekends and holidays, but closed Monday - Friday through July 31, 2017. After July 31 a complete closure will be in effect. No detour is provided for this closure. View map.

Tuscarawas County Trail Developments - 3/3/17 OB

From timesreporter.com, "Tuscarawas County has secured an easement for use on either side of the Fink Truss Bridge near Zoarville for use by the Towpath Trail.

"...Work has already begun on building a trail crossing over state Route 800 near Zoarville. In addition, the county recently reached an agreement with the Kimble Co. to use a four-mile rail bed from the Fink Truss Bridge to the White Bridge near Dover for the trail."

Rubber City Heritage Trail Connector - 2/16/17 OB

A concept trail for the old Akron industrial area is being proposed. The trail would connect the Goodyear and Firestone factory sites with the towpath, utilizing the old track bed of the Akron-Barberton Belt Line railroad.

Though it's not officially part of the iTowpath project in Downtown Akron, money is being raised for a feasibility study of this potential trail connector to the towpath.

Toxic Soil Clean Up Delays Towpath Section - 2/7/17 OB

From cleveland.com, "...Residents and Towpath Trail enthusiasts who had anticipated the completion of the renovation project [and trail build through Clark Field in Tremont Park] this year must wait at least until 2018 or later, as funding for the remediation work remains tangled in the bureaucratic red tape of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

"...The good news is that the remediation project has been approved by the EPA. The bad news is that it's going to be delayed..."

Funding for Final Northern Towpath Section - 1/20/17 OB

From canlwaypartners.com, "Cuyahoga County has been conditionally awarded $317,030 in 2016 Clean Ohio Trails Funding for Stage 4 of the Towpath Trail Extension Project.

"Stage 4 of the Towpath Trail Extension will run 1.5 miles from Literary Ave. to the future Canal Basin Park in Downtown Cleveland's Flats. This stage will be the final northern Towpath connection between Tremont and Downtown Cleveland.

"Part of Stage 4 will repurpose University Ave. as a pedestrian and bicycle trail offering spectacular views of Downtown Cleveland. The Towpath will integrate with plaza improvements made by ODOT as part of the George V. Voinovich Bridge project, and connect to the already constructed Scranton Flats as the trail heads Downtown. Lighting and interpretive elements are part of Stage 4 of the Towpath Trail project, which is currently in the Final Design/Engineering phase."

Land Donated to Extend Towpath - 1/13/17 OB

From timesreporter.com, "The Towpath Trail in Tuscarawas County is four miles closer to completion thanks to a license agreement signed Thursday between commissioners and the Kimble Co.

"The Kimble Co. will allow the hiking and biking trail to utilize property that it owns along the Tuscarawas River from the Fink Truss Bridge near Zoarville to the White Bridge at state Route 416, just north of Dover."

Massillon Bridge Opens - 12/16/16 OB

From canalwaypartners.com, "A new bridge has been put in place on the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail by the Stark County Park District. The bridge is between the Bridgeport Quarry and the Forty Corners Trailheads.

"The upgraded steel truss structure is 63 ft. long and 10 ft. wide, replacing a metal open grate bridge. The improvement creates a safer, more accessible option for Towpath users, allowing for two lanes of pedestrian, pet, and bicycle traffic."


Massillon Bridge Could Open Dec. 16 - 11/30/16 OB

From indeonline.com, "A $177,500 bridge is being built on the Towpath Trail between Forty Corners Road NW and Bridgeport Quarry (in the 3400 Block of Erie Avenue NW) to help improve the user experience and for safety... The new structure replaces the old Marco's Bridge...

"...Work on the bridge began Oct. 31 and is scheduled for completion Dec. 16."

iTowpath Illuminates Akron Underpass - 11/5/16 OB

"The Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition lit up the Towpath Trail Thursday, unveiling a luminous new look for a once dark portion under Russell Avenue. A new mural and multi-colored lighting transformed the trail into a more inviting place to gather, walk and bike.

"...iTowpath encompasses 20 projects all aimed at linking Akron's neighborhoods and creating a hub for community life and recreation around the trail..."

New Bike Lanes Coming to Zoar Section - 10/13/16 OB

From ODOT, "Work is scheduled to begin next Monday, October 17th, to construct bike lanes along State Route 800 for the Ohio Erie Canal Towpath Trail at the intersection of State Route 212 in Tuscarawas County east of Zoar.

"...Work will include paving the shoulders, striping and signing for the bike lanes, as well as highway lighting at the intersection."

Ribbon Cutting for New Towpath in Bolivar - 10/12/16 OB

From Ohio & Erie Canalway Towpath Times, "A completed section of the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail in Bolivar will be dedicated on Saturday, October 15, at 1:30 p.m. The Village of Bolivar and Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition invite all to take part in the dedication.

"This final section of the Towpath Trail connects the McDonnell Trailhead and Aqueduct Bridge on State Route 212 with the section of the Trail on the sidewalks through the Village of Bolivar on Park Ave SE to Fort Laurens."

Property Owner Helps Develop Towpath in Bolivar - 9/29/16 OB

There is an interesting post by Joe Rinehart that addresses towpath development in the Bolivar area. Aside from planning to set up a trailside Snack Shack in 2017, Joe also has ideas on providing a rest stop for towpath users. Read his full post here.

Primitive Camping Near Towpath in CVNP - 8/22/16 OB

From geauganews.com, "Heritage Farms in Peninsula, Ohio, has opened 5 primitive tent camping sites and 3 Scandinavian style camping shelters set in the woods and tree fields of the farm. From your tent or shelter you will be able to enjoy beautiful sunsets, bald eagle fly overs and lots of local wildlife. You will camp in an area with direct access to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park Tree Farm Trail and the Deep Lock and Towpath trails."

Downtown Akron Protected Bike Lane Linked to Towpath - 8/19/16 OB

From www.ohio.com, "...The loop, nearly a mile long, runs along South Main then dips onto the Diamond Boardwalk at Canal Park before returning to the Towpath Trail.

"Along the street, the two-lane track is protected from motorists by large planters and is marked occasionally by large splashes of green paint."

Akron Towpath gets 400-Foot Mural - 7/27/16 OB

A blank wall on a parking garage on Quaker Street has been transformed by local artists into a 400-foot mural along the towpath.

CSVR Adds Bike Aboard! Train on Saturdays - 6/17/16 OB

From auroraadvocate.com, "The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad announces the addition of a Bike Aboard! train from the Akron Northside Station on Saturdays, beginning June 18. The train will be for Bike Aboard! or Hike Aboard passengers only and will depart at 11:30 a.m. and 3:15 p.m. from Akron Northside station..."

Towpath Detour in Akron - 5/12/16 OB


Plowing the Towpath in Cleveland Metroparks - 12/25/15 OB

Here's an interesting fact that we didn't know: The paved towpath within the Cleveland Metroparks is plowed during winter.




Within the Cleveland Metroparks jurisdiction, the towpath surface is asphalt. This is also true along some segments in Akron. Otherwise riding along the towpath means riding on a compacted, finely crushed stone surface.

For those who prefer an asphalt surface, this may be a concern. Fear not. The surface is firmly packed and can easily be navigated on a road bike. Newer sections may have a few spots that are loosely packed, but for the most part these areas are few and far between.

If you don't like cleaning your bike, however, you should know that the towpath can be fairly dusty, particularly during extended dry periods in summer. The dust isn't a problem while riding, but a good bike cleaning will be needed afterward. If this sounds like a hassle, try riding the day after some rain.



Cuyahoga County

The Ohio & Erie Towpath Trail will start at the Cuyahoga River near Lake Erie in Cleveland, OH. The Northern terminus will be at the future Canal Basin Park near Detroit Avenue.

At present, this section is under development with 2 short segments completed: The .6-mile Scranton Flats segment along Scranton Road, and the 1.3-mile section at Steelyard Commons. Another section, north of Steelyard Commons, is currently under construction in 2017.

From Steelyard Commons heading south, an .8-mile gap exists over to the Harvard Road Trailhead where the towpath begins in earnest.

The northern portion of the trail follows the old canal route through the Cuyahoga Valley and the heart of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. A section also parallels the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad which caters to cyclists with its 'Bike Aboard' program.

The CVNP is also where the towpath joins up with 2 other major regional trails, the Akron Bike & Hike Trail and the Emerald Necklace Trail. In fact, the Emerald Necklace and towpath share a short stretch of towpath near the Brecksville Reservation, while the Bike-Hike runs parallel to about 9-miles of towpath in this same area.

Independence
Independence, OH

Our ride north to Harvard Road was surprisingly quiet. Though we were now in Cleveland, it certainly didn't feel that way. The Cuyahoga Valley had created its own peaceful environment along the towpath as it carried us closer to the lake.

It felt like we had sneaked past much of the big city on our way north. It'll be interesting to see how the remaining miles play out over to Steelyard Commons and through the industrial area that still stands between the towpath and its final destination.

The Canalway Center is just off the trail in Cuyahoga Heights. The connecting spur that takes you there continues on along nearby city streets and over to the Washington Reservation, about 2 miles to the north.

Previously the tranquility of the trail would begin to fade as you rode south into Independence. Lynda Warner reported on major improvements there: "As of [fall 2006], two very unique bridges were opened, which remove the stress of having to cross two major intersections."

Independence Bridge
View from Towpath Bridge in Independence, OH    Photo by Lynda Warner

In Independence you'll pass under the super structure of I-480 that towers overhead as you make your way to the Thornburg Station, a commercial complex with food and parking. This also marks the spot where the asphalt surface changes to classic towpath crushed stone as you leave the jurisdiction of the Cleveland Metroparks and continue southbound past Rockside Road.

Mile marker posts tick off the miles as you head further away from Lake Erie, mile "0". This provides a good way to gauge your distance from the north coast from any point on the towpath.

Now you enter the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, where some facilites are open year-round. Perks for trail users include: riding on the scenic railway and limited camping spots reserved for through hikers and cyclists. Reservations are required. The camping season runs from Memorial Day through Oct. 31.

Trail Specs & Facts:

Location: Cuyahoga County

Class: A1++

Length: 7.6 miles / asphalt (not including road routes); ~11.4 mile when complete

Condition: Good

Facilities: Some off the trail facilities here: Canalway Center, Bacci Park.

Parking: See trail map for options.

Worth Noting: We don't recommend road riding between trail sections in Cleveland. For those who have urban road riding skills, ride at your own risk.

Map: Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail - all counties

Cuyahoga Co. Elevation Map: From Cleveland riding south

Completion Progress: Here's a map showing the final segments to be completed in Cleveland.

More Trails in this Region: NE OH Trails List


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Summit County

[Alert! - Trail section closure about 1-mile south of Highland Rd. This closure was supposed to be lifted by March 2017. However, the CVNP website reports it is closed Mon.-Fri. until further notice with no posted detour. Complete closures (24/7), may be necessary, at times.]

[Alert! - Trail section closure in Akron until 2019. The towpath is closed from Mustill Store north to Memorial Pkwy, a distance of ~1 mile. See a map of the trail gap (closure) with the parallel detour route along Hickory Street.]



Video of the Towpath Detour

The Summit County section includes most of the trail in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. From there it continues south through Akron, Barberton and just south of Clinton, OH.

The Cuyahoga Valley Train offers service to cyclists along a stretch of the trail from North Akron to Independence. Hopping aboard gives visitors another way to enjoy the valley and knock some miles off your ride when you're doubling back to your car.

There are good trailheads all along the towpath. Peninsula makes an excellent starting point. It's between Cleveland and Akron and has parking right along the trail with restroom facilities. There's also a depot for the scenic railway, restaurants and a bike shop.

The route south from Peninsula was constructed with many gentle curves to lend more interest and character to the trail. And it does make a more pleasurable ride. The only drawback is that sight lines can be limited, making passing a tricky proposition on heavy-traffic days.

Barberton, OH
Barberton, OH Towpath

There are some wooden boardwalk trail sections along the towpath, and the Akron-area has its share. The sections here are approximately 14' wide and feature wide, sweeping turns. When riding south you pickup speed on a slight downhill and can hear the deck boards "sing" when a rider comes past. Be careful on wet or frosty days. The surface is bound to be slippery.

Where the towpath enters North Akron the surface turns to asphalt with a stone chip top coat. It returns to crushed stone once you leave this developed area. There are several places to eat here, so take advantage of nearby restaurants if you're hungry.

At North Street resides the historic Mustill Store. Formerly a general store during the glory days of the canal, it now serves as a museum and visitors center. There's also a trail parking lot and facilities at this trailhead.

The trail continues south through Cascade Locks Park and up a 5% grade (a .6-mile climb), over the Akron Innerbelt (Rt. 59), and south to Canal Park.

Once over the innerbelt, the trail transitions to wide concrete sidewalk and continues alongside streets over to Canal Park. This .3-mile stretch is just 2-3 blocks and does not involve any road riding.

The short segment within Canal Park, home of the Akron Aeros, features a red rubberized surface, perhaps the most unusual one you'll find along the entire towpath.

Joe Chase describes the Canal Park segment: "This [section] extends from the Akron Civic Theater south through a public festival park, around the west side of the Canal Park Stadium and down to the parking area behind Canal Place (the old BFG factory).

"Part of this section of the canal was once covered by a parking deck; the city has done a great job removing decrepit buildings and landscaping the canal in this area. From this path north to the Staircase Locks [near Martin Luther King Drive], the canal has been buried forever beneath office buildings and the Akron Innerbelt, but the water still flows. Did you know the lobby of the Civic Theater is actually a bridge across the canal?"

At Summit Lake the trail passes the rec center and moves along the shoreline before taking to open water via the boardwalk-like floating trail section that crosses the south end of the lake and enters the canal.

The towpath follows the canal for several miles as you gradually leave urban sights and sounds for more tranquil towpath through Barberton.

A statue has been erected at Manchester Road of a indian carrying his canoe. It's a monument to the original Portage Indian Trail which followed a section of the Cuyahoga Valley. This monument can be found at each terminus of the Portage Trail, the Cuyahoga and Tuscarawas.

Further south you'll encounter some short punchy climbs. Along with the 5% grade in Akron, this likely represents the most overt climbing you'll do along the otherwise flat towpath trail. Here you will climb regardless of your direction of travel, while the Akron climb is entirely for those riding south.

Clinton, OH
Towpath & Lock in Clinton, OH

Further south the trail enters Clinton Towpath Metropark where remants of the canal are on view. Remaining locks, partial locks and other historic reminders are scattered along the towpath route. As are trailheads, facilities and places to eat.

As you leave Clinton a pond borders one side of the trail, while the canal lies opposite. The next stop is Canal Fulton.

Trail Specs & Facts:

Location: Summit County

Class: A1++ & B1++

Length: 40.5 miles / crushed stone & asphalt

Condition: Good

Facilities: At most of the trailheads and scenic train stations along the way.

Parking: Peninsula, OH. (See trail map for more options.)

Worth Noting: This county has the longest towpath section, and the most variety of environments through which it passes.

Map: Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail - all counties

Summit Co. Elevation: From CVNP riding south

Completion Progress: The Summit County segment is finished.

More Trails in this Region: NE OH Trails List


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Stark County

[Alert! Closure notice from Stark Parks for Navarre for 2017: "May 5, 2017 The trail will be closed just north of Wooster St. in Navarre until further notice for a construction project next to the trail. We are working with the contractor and Village of Navarre to have the trail open on weekends during the summer season. Varying trail conditions should be expected until after the trail reopens..."]

Though Summit County was the first to complete its portion of the towpath, Stark County was not far behind.

The Towpath begins south of Clinton and passes through Canal Fulton, Massillon and Navarre south to the Tuscarawas County line, just short of Bolivar.

Canal Fulton is another great towpath starting point. There's plenty of trail parking, places to eat and a canal boat ride, the St. Helena III.

The trail ride south of Canal Fulton is also scenic and features the classic crushed stone trail surface.

Tunnel
Towpath Tunnel in Stark County, OH

The Lake Avenue Trailhead in Massillon has parking, a bike shop, a canoe livery and restroom facilities.

Further into Massillon the towpath meets up with the Sippo Valley Trail. Take the first ramp up to street level (Lincoln Way W.) to make the Sippo Connection. To continue south on the towpath, take the 2nd ramp up to Tremont Ave. SW. Cross over the river and turn south on 5th St. to continue south.

You'll want to check a map to plan ahead for this junction, as there are a couple of options, both of which involve a little road riding (less than a mile) to the next trail section at Walnut Road.

Stark County
Towpath near Navarre, OH

Once back on the trail at Walnut Road, the towpath runs uninterrupted to just short of Bolivar at the county line. As the trail nears Rt. 212 west of Bolivar, it turns east, away from the river to follow the road. This segment ends further east where it deposits you on Rt. 212 at the McDonnell Trailhead. You have now entered Tuscarawas County.

The ride to and beyond Navarre is quite rural as the river corridor provides its own linear ecosystem which is quite lush in summer.

Trail Specs & Facts:

Location: Stark County

Class: B1++

Length: 26 miles / crushed stone (includes ~.4 mile road route)

Condition: Good

Facilities: At some of the trailheads along the route.

Parking: Lake Avenue in Massillon, OH. (See trail map for more options.)

Worth Noting: The Sippo Valley Trail connects with the towpath in Massillon.

Map: Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail - all counties

Stark Co. Elevation: Mostly flat.

Completion Progress: The towpath is finished in Stark County.

More Trails in this Region: NE OH Trails List


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Tuscarawas County

The Tuscarawas County towpath will extend from the Stark County line through Bolivar, then pass by Zoar, Zoarville and Dover on to its final destination, New Philadelphia, OH.

At this time 7.7 miles of towpath are finished within the county, with ~9 more miles to go. The final missing 9-mile leg is from the current endpoint in Zoarville, to New Philly.

From the McDonnell Trailhead along Rt. 212 near the Stark County line, the trail takes to the road toward Bolivar. The .3-mile road ride is necessary to reach the next trail segment which takes riders through the village.

This newer segment was opened on Oct. 15, 2016, and leads you onto sidewalks and bike lanes as you make your way through the heart of town over to Fort Laurens, where crushed stone towpath greets you again.

The towpath crosses I-77 in Bolivar and runs 3 miles south to Canal Lands Park in Zoar. Open towpath continues on to Zoarville, where it currently ends at Rt. 212. From there, land for the last section of towpath to New Philly has yet to be acquired.

The towpath here is narrower, at about 3-5' wide. Due to budget restrictions, the trail here is built more by hand and with the help of dedicated volunteers.

I-77 Bridge
Bridge over I-77 near Bolivar, OH

However, the I-77 trail bridge is a definite exception to that rule. This major piece of infrastructure looks as though it would support single lane auto traffic. It's that robust. The extra width was designed to carry ped and bike traffic alongside horses and riders. The bridge crown features a partition that separates horses and allows them to cross more safely.

Heading south the towpath is smooth, mostly flat and slightly undulating. It's a departure from the more finely manicured sections to the north, but still an enjoyable ride. In fact, the mini undulations will mean more fun for many riders.

As you approach Old St. Rt. 82, you'll spot a wooden staircase leading up to a deserted bridge over the trail. This is a former roadway that is now closed to auto traffic. The bridge was restored in 2004 and now serves as a pedestrian and bicycle access point and overlook.

Rt. 82 Bridge
Unique Trail Access at former Roadway Bridge

Shortly after this structure, you'll pass under the Dover-Zoar Road Bridge. A spur soon appears on your right that leads to the Canal Lands Park Trailhead.

In 2013, towpath was completed south to Rt. 212, just outside of Zoarville. It was a major accomplishment by volunteers who constructed boardwalk sections to traverse two 150' wetland stretches en route. According to the Ohio & Erie Canalway website, "The work was done mostly by hand, on weekends, and with tools brought from home or loaned by local businesses."

If you want to ride further at Rt. 212, you can try jumping onto the nearby Zoar Valley Trail and put in another 4.3 miles over to just outside Dover, OH. But this is a rougher ride with larger gravel and some potholes and possibly muddy areas. Perfect for a mountain bike, but not much fun on skinny tires.

In the future, this Zoar Valley Trail section will likely be shared with the towpath, just as they now share towpath between Zoar and Fort Laurens in Bolivar.

A pleasant surprise in Tuscarawas County, was the appearance of a few of the stone towpath mile-markers seen further north, perhaps miles 81-83. For those unfamiliar with these markers, they indicate the distance to Lake Erie, which is mile "0."

Completion of the entire trail looks to be at least a few years away. Current projections are that perhaps 2020 will be the year. And with only 9 miles remaining in the south and ~3 miles at the north end in Cleveland, it's certainly possible.

When that happens, the trail will likely be between 100-110 miles in total length. But until then, there should be some new sections being finished on an annual basis. So if you enjoy riding the towpath, you should have some new trail to explore each season.

Trail Specs & Facts:

Location: Tuscarawas County

Class: B2+, C2+

Length: 7.7 miles / crushed stone & earthen (includes short road route) / ~16.7 miles when complete

Condition: Good

Facilities: Restrooms and water are more scarce in this section. Take advantage of facilities in Bolivar, Zoar and the Fort Laurens Museum (when open).

Parking: Fort Laurens in Bolivar. (See trail map for more options.)

Worth Noting: Facilities and water stops are not typically available on the trail here.

Map: Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail - all counties

Tuscarawa Co. Elevation: Mostly flat.

Completion Progress: The final 9 miles of towpath have yet to be obtained for trail development. Also, a short .3-mile section of trail is needed to eliminate the road route west of Bolivar.

More Trails in this Region: NE OH Trails List

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