Biking the Towpath Trail
If you want to learn a little Ohio & Erie Canal history, bike this scenic portion of the trail through northeast Ohio.
The Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail stretches from Cleveland’s industrial flats Tuscarawas County near New Philadelphia. But if you want to tackle a manageable portion of the lengthy route over the course of an afternoon and gain insight into the canal era along the way, start at Cuyahoga Valley National Park’s Station Road Bridge Trailhead in Brecksville.
Cross the bridge and head south on the crushed-limestone path, where you’ll pass the ruins of old canal locks and catch glimpses of the snaking Cuyahoga River. Tree canopy provides shade during stretches of the route, while stone mile markers are handy in figuring out how far you’ve gone.
About 4 1/2 miles into the ride, you’ll arrive at the historic Boston Store. Built in 1836, it has long served as a visitor center, after its former life selling wares to those traveling through the village during the canal’s heyday, which lasted from the mid-1830s to just before the Civil War. (A new visitor center under construction nearby is scheduled to open in fall 2019). Inside the Boston Store, exhibits offer insight into the boats that once traveled the canal and rangers can answer questions about the park.
From there, continue on south under the towering Ohio Turnpike bridge and across the curving boardwalk that traverses Stumpy Basin. Eventually, you enter the town of Peninsula (a little over 6 1/2 miles south of Station Road Bridge). There, riders can park their bikes and explore the handful of shops that call the tiny and walkable town home.
Peninsula serves as a great halfway point for those who want to head back and cap their ride at nearly 13 1/2 miles. Of course, there’s always the option to push on: Those who go nearly 5 additional miles south from Peninsula arrive at another boardwalk crossing Beaver Marsh — a great place to spot some of the wildlife that calls the valley home.
Station Road Bridge Trailhead, 13513 Station Rd., Brecksville 44141, nps.gov/cuva