Trail through time: Follow the Ohio Erie Canal through the state and through history
Exploring the Ohio Erie Canal offers travelers biking, hiking and interesting roadside stops along its 110 miles of scenic byway.
The canal was built in the late 1820s to early 1830s to give easy access from Lake Erie to the Ohio River, allowing farmers and businesses to get their products where they needed to go.
The canal runs from Lake Erie through Cuyahoga Valley, Muskingum Valley and Licking Valley, then to the Ohio River and into the Scioto Valley.
There are several ways to experience the northern part of the canal. America’s Byway - Ohio & Erie Canalway is a great place for those in their cars or motorcycles to take in the scenic points, museums and other interesting places. The byway travels alongside the historic path of the canal, and visitors can explore all or part of the four-county, 58-community historic adventure. In the north it begins in The Flats neighborhood of downtown Cleveland and runs south to Schoenbrunn Village in New Philadelphia, Ohio.
Enjoy this piece of history by biking, walking or running part of the 87-mile Towpath Trail once used by the mules that pulled the boats up and down the canal. Forty-nine trailheads offer parking and access to the towpath, which travels through Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
For a different experience, take a ride on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad and take your bike aboard; ride one way, bike the other. The railroad runs trains all year long but is temporarily closed due to COVID-19. Get train schedules and learn more at cvsr.org.
Peninsula and Akron
The village of Peninsula offers a place to begin trail adventures, with the Lock 29 depot for the CVSR, an entrance to the towpath, water and restroom facilities.
While biking or walking the Towpath Trail, the Hunt House in Peninsula makes for a great rest area, offering child-friendly nature exhibits and local information.
The 73-acre Deep Lock Quarry Park in Peninsula is the site of Lock 28, the deepest lock on the canal. The park is also home to more Ohio buckeye trees than any other Summit Metro district park in the county.
Along the canal in Akron is Canal Park Stadium, home of the Akron RubberDucks AA baseball team. The park allows for spectators to be up close to the action, and fun activities are planned for kids throughout the game. Fireworks nights are a special treat. Play has been delayed until at least May; check milb.com/akron for updates.
Canalside in Akron is Cascade Locks Park, an industrial heritage park. Here visitors find the story of the frontier, canal days and industrial times in the city. It is part of the Ohio & Erie Canalway National Heritage Area. Lock 3 Park along the canal is the site of festivals, concerts and winter activities.
Mustill Store Museum is along the path, offering self-guided and guided tours for visitors to learn about the history of the canal system. A 0.08 mile walk along the historic part of the trail is a must-do. A pet-friendly water and picnic area, as well as a bike repair station, are available.
Clinton and Canal Fulton
Continuing south along the towpath in Clinton, visit the 1874 Pearson Rhoads harness shop, now the Carriage House Museum dedicated to the industries that operated on the canal. Visitors will see photos of the mining, railroad and glass industries and artifacts.
Clinton’s Lock 2 stone spillway once offered canal boats a place to tie up to load coal in 1847.
In the city of Canal Fulton, visitors will find St. Helena Heritage Park and the St. Helena III canal boat. A film is available to view, and canal boat rides are offered. The boat is pulled by two draft horses, and a knowledgeable guide informs the passengers about the history of travel on the canal in its glory days. Call 330-854-6835 to book a boat ride. Walk-ins are sometimes available, but the boats fill up fast, so reservations are recommended. The canal boat operates mid-May through mid-October, but check for delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is just a beginning of what these canal towns have to offer. For more information visit ohioanderiecanalway.com and nps.gov/cuva/index.htm.