The Towpath Trail

More than 2.5 million Americans find their way to the iconic 87-mile Towpath Trail annually, which runs through the heart of the Ohio & Erie Canalway.

Towpath Trail Fast Facts

  • Voted 2015 "Best of Ohio" Bike Trail by the readers of Ohio Magazine
  • Canalway miles: 87 miles of Towpath Trail 
  • Number of trailheads: More than 50 Trailheads provide parking and Towpath Trail access starting at Harvard Avenue (North) to Canal Lands Park (South)
  • Trailhead/Towpath care: U.S. National Park Service, County Park districts 
  • Surface: Level, mostly ADA accessible
  • North Cuyahoga County section/Cleveland Metroparks: Paved
  • National Park/Stark County: Level, hard-packed, crushed limestone
  • Tuscarawas County section: Earthen, hard-packed

The Surfaces & Grade of the Towpath Trail

We hope you enjoy your journeys along the multi-use Towpath Trail. The 85+ miles of the Towpath Trail are basically flat and mostly ADA accessible. The surfaces range from paved (north) to hard-packed earth (furthest south).

Overall, the grade of the Towpath Trail is very gentle and doesn't have a rating, but it is steeper from Cleveland to Tuscarawas - especially from Cleveland to Akron - reflecting the historic locks as they climbed into Akron. 

There are a few exceptions to note:
  • In Cleveland, there are two suspension bridges that take the Towpath Trail over two busy intersections along Canal Road - at Granger & Warner Roads. These bridges rise to 30 feet above the roadway at each point and include a 7% grade. 
  • In the Akron area, there is a 5% (north to south) grade for a short distance, that causes some bike riders to walk a bit at that point. 
  • Barberton - There also is a hill in Barberton that is believed to be 5% in grade (heading south to north).

In Cuyahoga County

On the near west side of Cleveland, get a sampler of the Towpath Trail along a 1.2 mile placeholder stretch in Steelyard Commons. Running behind this retail center, where you’ll find plenty of parking, the trail segment offers views of the industrial valley stretching along this portion of the Cuyahoga River. Future plans call for Towpath connections both north and south. 

In Cleveland  

Along Scranton Road, in the heart of Cleveland's Flats, you'll find the first publicly funded section of Towpath Trail in the City of Cleveland. It is the first of four sections that will complete the Towpath's iconic journey back to its historic roots - where the Ohio & Erie Canal met the Cuyahoga River. The Scranton Flats section officially opened on July 7, 2014. with a Ribbon Cutting ceremony attended by community and elected partners at the Federal, State, Regional, County and City levels. The Towpath Trail in Cleveland stretches 5 miles from Harvard Ave. to Canal Basin Park.

City of Cleveland — Towpath Fast Facts

  • Number of Towpath miles: 2/3 of a mile, along the banks of the Cuyahoga River
  • Number of Trailheads: 
  • Surface: Paved 
  • Key Visitor Amenity: Pier over the Cuyahoga River allows up-close viewing of the urban fish habitat and massive ships from ports around the world


In the Cleveland Metroparks

At Harvard Road, just east of Jennings, is the northernmost Towpath Trailhead. It’s here where your Towpath travels can truly begin. Set off on an 84 mile journey south, starting in the Cleveland Metroparks’ Ohio & Erie Canal Reservation right on into the heart of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. (The transition takes place at Rockside Road.) Two iconic cable-style bridges punctuate this 10-foot wide asphalt portion of the trail, which makes crossing busy Warner and Granger roads a safer — and leg-stretching! — experience. 

Cleveland Metroparks — Towpath Fast Facts

  • Number of Towpath miles: 8.1 
  • Number of Trailheads: 
  • Surface: Paved 
  • Key Visitor Center: Leonard Krieger CanalWay Center 

In Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Only in the National Park, the Towpath Trail is accessible 24-hours-a-day, providing unique opportunities to see nocturnal wildlife and get a workout in no matter what your schedule. (Note: Helmet lights required at night, as the trail is not lit.) 

Be sure to stop at the Canal Exploration Center at Lock 38 along the America's Byway to learn about 12,000 years of local history and check out a lock that’s been restored to its 1905 condition. Take in the sights and sounds of nature as you head further south into Pinery Narrows — a gorgeous, 2.7-mile stretch of trail south of historic Frazee House — as the Trail swings deeper into parklands. Continue on to Boston, one of Summit County’s oldest settlements, where you can take a hike over to the magnificent, 63-foot Brandywine Falls, located just about a mile west of the Towpath Trail, before continuing on to the charming village of Peninsula — where hungry hikers and bikers can grab a bite at Winking Lizard Tavern and Fisher’s Café & Pub. 

The popular Beaver Marsh can be found just north of the Ira Road Trailhead as you head towards the southern boundaries of the National Park.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park — Towpath Fast Facts

  • Number of Towpath miles: 20 
  • Number of Trailheads: 13 
  • Surface: Level, Hard-Packed, Crushed Limestone 
  • Key Visitor Centers: Canal Exploration Center, Boston Store Visitor Center

In the Summit Metro Parks 

Beginning in Botzum, where you can visit the scenic and historic Conrad Botzum Farm, continue your journey south to Old Portage and Cascade Locks — where you can see five of the 15 “staircase” locks that were once used to lift boats up a very steep escarpment. On summer weekends, stop in and check out the canal-era exhibits on display at the restored 1850s Mustill Store Visitor Center (managed by the Cascade Locks Park Association - CLPA). Then continue south into the heart of Akron. 

While in Akron, the Akron Art Museum, Canal Park Baseball Stadium and the Richard Howe House Trailhead all make for terrific side trips, showcasing Akron’s culture, athletics and history. South of Downtown Akron, voyage across “The Divide” and an amazing floating portion of the Towpath Trail located at the southern tip of Summit Lake. 

Summit Metro Parks — Towpath Fast Facts

  • Number of Towpath miles: 22.4 
  • Number of Trailheads: 17 (Summit Metro Parks - 14) 
  • Surface: Hard Packed, Crushed Limestone 
  • Key Visitor Centers: F.A. Seiberling Nature Realm (SMP); Mustill Store Visitor Center (CLPA) 

In the Stark County Park District

Now traveling along the Tuscarawas River, you’ll arrive at Canal Fulton, home of the St. Helena III, a working replica of a canal-era freight barge that offers 45-minute canal boat trips to Lock 4 Park and back. 

Take a side trip to the Congressman Ralph Regula Canalway Center in Massillon, where you’ll experience the natural and cultural history of the Ohio & Erie Canalway as well as enjoy nature programs, wetland trails and boating. High Mill Bridge, Smith Mill, U.S. Boundary Marker — historic structures — are grouped together south of the Crystal Springs Park Trailhead. 

Be careful finding the big rock along Erie Avenue that once marked the western border of our country! You can then stop at the Lake Avenue Trailhead to rent bicycles or canoes, have a bike repaired, get ice cream or a bite to eat, or pick up a new pair of running or hiking shoes. 

Keep traveling south to the village of Navarre, home to the Mathews House Museum, and down through the rural farms of the Tuscarawas River Valley and Wildcat Basin. Visitor’s Tip: It should be noted that there are no trailside services between Navarre and Bolivar and that this stretch of the Towpath Trail also is open to equestrians. 

Stark County Park District — Towpath Fast Facts

  • Number of Towpath miles: 25 
  • Number of Trailheads: 13 
  • Surface: Crushed Limestone, mostly ADA Accessible 
  • Key Visitor Centers: Canal Fulton Canalway Center, Congressman Ralph Regula Canalway Center at Sippo Lake Park, Visitor amenities at Lake Avenue Trailhead 

Visitor’s Tip: You’ll find a small road portion of the trail between Lincoln Way and Walnut, south of the Lake Avenue Trailhead. Call Stark Parks or ask at the Lake Avenue Trailhead for directions. 

In Tuscarawas County

South of Bolivar is the Fort Laurens State Memorial, Ohio’s only Revolutionary War-era fort, where you can enjoy vast parklands and take a moment to remember our heroes at a visit to the Tomb of the Unknown Patriot of the American Revolution. Continue your journey south to the German community of Zoar and the Canal Lands Park Trailhead - currently, the southernmost Trailhead on the Towpath Trail. 

Wander through the historic Village of Zoar and don’t forget to stop at their stunning historic gardens or pick up a few things at the Zoar Store. 

Tuscarawas County — Towpath Fast Facts

  • Number of Towpath miles: 2.9 + 2.7 mile extension from Zoar to Zoarville - a boon for Canalway travelers - completed Spring 2013
  • Number of Trailheads: 3 - Newest - McDonnell Trailhead, just past the Aqueduct Bridge connecting Stark and Tuscarawas Counties
  • Surface: Earthen, Level 
  • Key Visitor Centers: Ft. Laurens State Memorial, Village of Zoar 

Visitor’s Tip: You’ll find an on-road section in the trail south of Shepler-Church Road - prior to where the Towpath picks up again at Fort Laurens. Call Tuscarawas County Park Department or the Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition for directions.

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