I've seen this come up a couple times before, and the Summit County Metroparks is trying to listen. There's a new self-registration campsite at the Big Bend trailhead between Cuyahoga Falls and Akron. They're trying to keep it limited to hikers and bikers so publicity is limited. No fee, 4 people max, one night only, so if you know anyone looking, camping is finally available directly on the towpath. Sign up sheet faces the woods next to the restrooms, you'd never notice if you weren't looking.
What great news! But what about our little family of 5, could we still camp? Thanks so much for posting this.
Technically probably not, but my guess is the rule is to discourage partyers and non-travelers, a quiet family wouldn't attract attention. Officially your out of luck, practically you'd "probably" be okay.
Here's the response I received from Summmit County Metroparks. Seems like they're really making an effort:
Hi Kirsten. Thanks for your interest in Metro Parks, Serving Summit County and for contacting us about this. Yes, there is a small camping area for hikers/bikers at the Big Bend trailhead, which is located at 1337 Merriman Rd. in Akron. If you park in the lot, you'll see a kiosk near the trail's start. Follow that trail down about 50 yards and look for a smaller kiosk to your right. Please sign in on the sheet located there. If you're coming from the Towpath Trail, you'll take the connector path, cross railroad tracks (it's an accessible area) and then look for the small kiosk on your left.
If you do camp here this summer, please contact me back and let me know what you think. We would love to have your feedback, as we just started offering this last August.
Also, if you're looking for other ways to explore the valley while on the towpath, here are some ideas: While you're biking south on the towpath, before you reach Big Bend, the Valley Link trail will appear on your left. Take this over the Cuyahoga River (a bridge) and you'll travel up a hill and to the 1.2-mile Schumacher Trail, part of Cascade Valley Metro Park. It's a great, rugged trail with beautiful views.
Come back to the Towpath Trail, continue south and you'll see the Valley Link pick back up on your right (a sign says "to Sand Run"). Take this up wooden stairs and across Merriman Road to the 1.4-mile Parcours Trail in Sand Run Metro Park. Hike this trail and return to the towpath, or take the link to the Dogwood, Mingo or Jogging Trails. It's a great way to spend a day hiking (without traveling back and forth via car)!