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  1. #1
    Older than dirt CCrew's Avatar
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    Anyone done the Ohio & Erie Canalway?

    Looking to take this ride in a couple of weeks, wondering if anyone's done it and can give any pointers. We'll be coming in from the VA side, so can easily do it south to north or north to south. Thanks!

    http://www.ohioanderiecanalway.com/Main/Home.aspx

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    We live pretty close to the towpath and know the northern section well. My only caution would be crowds on nice weekends, or during special events. The CVNP is primarily near urban areas until south of Akron, and can resemble a bike, walk, run, wander wobble freeway at times. I've seen my share of bikers ride right into the canal That said, it's a really nice and easy ride with enjoyable relax stops along the way. PM me for more specifics, or if you need any kind of logistics help.
    Last edited by dewaday; 09-06-11 at 10:10 PM.

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    Older than dirt CCrew's Avatar
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    Thanks. We're looking at doing it in the middle of the week right around the 21st (this month) or so. Still trying to figure logistics as to whether end to end and back in three days or one way and catch the train back in two. While we could probably lay down the one way in one day, looking for a bit more relaxing ride and smell the roses kind of thing.

    Wife's not much of a camper - likes her hot shower and warm bed, am I incorrect in thinking there's decent lodging in the Canton or Akron areas? Like I said though, still trying to noodle logistics so we're pretty open.

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    This looks interesting! Can anyone compare the this ride to the GAP Trail in Pennsylvania? I'm especially interested in the trail surface and the trail grade. Thanks!

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    your nightmare gal chipcom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CCrew View Post
    Thanks. We're looking at doing it in the middle of the week right around the 21st (this month) or so. Still trying to figure logistics as to whether end to end and back in three days or one way and catch the train back in two. While we could probably lay down the one way in one day, looking for a bit more relaxing ride and smell the roses kind of thing.

    Wife's not much of a camper - likes her hot shower and warm bed, am I incorrect in thinking there's decent lodging in the Canton or Akron areas? Like I said though, still trying to noodle logistics so we're pretty open.
    Keep in mind that the Towpath only goes from like Zoar up to Cleveland, with a few road detours in between. The route through downtown Akron has gotten a bit trickier due to some construction on a couple of bridges....let me know when you're coming through and I may be able to meet up and guide you through it after I get off work...or at least help you map a way around it.

    The lodging in the Akron/Canton area within proximity of the canalway is not as decent as one would think. I'd offer to put you up for the night, but with a daughter and two-grand daughters living with us again, I just plain don't have any room.

    Your best bet would be to try to get into the Canal House B&B in Canal Fulton...that would break up your towpath ride into two fairly equal parts and they have a whirlpool.

    There are a couple of motels...the Shamrock and Casa Bella fairly close to the towpath a little farther north in Barberton that may be decent, otherwise you have just a couple of hotels farther north in downtown Akron or farther south in Massillon.
    "Let us hope our weapons are never needed --but do not forget what the common people knew when they demanded the Bill of Rights: An armed citizenry is the first defense, the best defense, and the final defense against tyranny. If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. Only the police, the secret police, the military, the hired servants of our rulers. Only the government -- and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws" - Edward Abbey

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    Midweek is perfect, completely different experience.

    Chipcom pretty much covered the lodging situation, fairly scarce along the whole route. CVNP's gotta be the only national park without any accommodations, though there are 2 primitive campsites nearby.

    Keep in mind that between Cleveland and Akron you're riding in a valley floor. If you see something on the map a couple miles east or west of the towpath, it could be a short but brutal climb out of the valley. Fun if you like climbing, daunting if you're a flatlander. Riding up and down the valley sides is a way of life around here.

    Here's a possible scenario. Start at Harvard Rd. trailhead (very cool section) and head south to Canal Fulton for the first day. Second day to the end of the towpath in Zoar or nearby. Third day head back north until the Akron/Mustill trailhead and catch the train back north to Rockside Rd. station. I think you can leave a vehicle at Rockside, but I'm not positive (you don't want to leave a car at Harvard unless you need an insurance payoff ). Let me know what you're thinking and I could help you out with shuttling or whatever if need be.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Altair 4 View Post
    This looks interesting! Can anyone compare the this ride to the GAP Trail in Pennsylvania? I'm especially interested in the trail surface and the trail grade. Thanks!
    It's similar and different. It looks and rides the same. Trail surface is identical, grade is a very gradual rise going from north to south, usually imperceptible. It's been mostly used for day rides because getting through Akron was so difficult. Now that the bridge over Summit Lake is complete and the route through Akron (except for the construction Chipcom mentions) is finished it's finally tour-able.

    It's different because the fist half goes through a populated urban center, even though most of the trail feels rural. The northern terminus is stalled due to a uranium processing site left over from the Manhattan Project (no need for a headlight after riding through ). It also gets insanely busy on weekends. There's nothing better then riding the towpath on an early spring weekday evening, there's nothing worse then the towpath mid-day Saturday, middle of summer. It's literally a bicycle, jogger, stroller, dog walker, training wheel freeway. Fortunately there's a great road (Riverview) that parallels almost the entire Cleveland to Akron route to use. The whole valley really is fabulous for riding or just hanging out.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dewaday View Post
    It's similar and different. It looks and rides the same. Trail surface is identical, grade is a very gradual rise going from north to south, usually imperceptible. It's been mostly used for day rides because getting through Akron was so difficult. Now that the bridge over Summit Lake is complete and the route through Akron (except for the construction Chipcom mentions) is finished it's finally tour-able.

    It's different because the fist half goes through a populated urban center, even though most of the trail feels rural. The northern terminus is stalled due to a uranium processing site left over from the Manhattan Project (no need for a headlight after riding through ).
    Thanks for the info! After having checked the website for this and for some other trails, I realized that I have become totally spoiled by all of the information available on the Gap trail.

    I think I need to put this on my agenda for next year. It looks like a nice ride and it doesn't sound like it turns into a quagmire if it rains, like the C&O does.

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    Senior Member sonatageek's Avatar
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    When you decide to do it, even though the trail ends at Harvard (mile 5) it is very easy to take to some roads and get yourself down to the lake and into some nice neighborhoods like Tremont and Ohio City. Good eating and I belive there are some BnB options. I ride those roads and that section of trail on the way home from work (when I am on bike) and all in all it is very pleasant.

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    Senior Member iforgotmename's Avatar
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    If you need a tour guide when your in Cleve let me know.

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    Senior Member tombilcze's Avatar
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    I regularly ride the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail two or three times a week. At the end of June, I rode the GAP and C&O Trails from Pittsburgh to D.C. The Towpath Trail to the north of Clinton to Cleveland is somewhat similar in surface to the GAP. It is not quite as wide. It is an old towpath for canal boats. This roughly 50 mile section of the trail is the best maintained.

    The Towpath Trail south of Clinton (Stark County) is much more rustic and resembles the C&O Trail. The roughly first 20 miles south of Clinton are pretty decent and pass through woods with the canal on one side and the Tuscarawus River on the other side.

    South of Massillon, the trail is much more rustic. As a general rule, the farther south you go, the more rustic the trail gets. I have never been below Navarre. I can not speak to much about the trail there. I hear that it is mostly a mountain bike trail to Zoar. I believe it is not complete or pretty rough from Zoar to New Philadelphia.

    There is a very nice guidebook, The Towpath Companion that is available at most bike shops on the trail. It's a bargain at $12 and resembles the GAP Trail Guide but not as commercial. http://www.ohioeriecanal.org/towpathcompanion.html

    Some highlights that I recommend:

    Cuyahoga Valley National Park - Just south of Cleveland - Boston Store, Peninsula and Beaver Marsh. For dining in this area you can't beat the Winking Lizard or Fishers in Peninsula. If you are up to cycling up some hills, a side trip to Brandywine Falls is beautiful.

    Akron/Summit County - Valley Café on the trail on Merriman Road. Spaghetti Warehouse or Cilantro on the trail in downtown Akron. Boardwalk over Summit Lake is very scenic. Note: in about a month the remaining 2 1/2 mile sections of trail that are not completed will be done making the trail continuous through Summit County.

    Stark County - Canal Fulton - Oser's old fashioned ice cream shop and V Li Thai Restaurant. You can ride a canal boat in this area. You can also rent a canoe and bike back to the livery here and in Massillon.

    Massillon- Blue Heron Grill adjoins Ernie's Bike Shop.

    Bike Shops on the trail - Century Cycles in Peninsula, Blimp City in Akron, Ernie's in Massillon

    Have great time and feel free to ask me any questions.

    Tom
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  12. #12
    your nightmare gal chipcom's Avatar
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    Note that the towpath is not contiguous from Clinton to Cleveland. When you get few miles north of the Van Houten Rd trailhead, you have to take Van Buren to Snyder Rd, then take a left for maybe a mile or so on Snyder before you pick up the trail again. They keep saying that the remaining towpath between these points will be done this year...as of now they are still not completed.

    When you get to Barteges Rd in Akron, you have to detour through downtown Akron to pick the towpath up again either near Lock 3 Park or at Ash Ave. It used to be a shorter detour, but the bridge is out on the small access road that enabled you to cross the river just south of Canal Park. I have no idea when the towpath will actually exist between Barteges Rd and the rest of the canal path near Canal Park. There is also a short stretch of road from Lock 3 Park to Ash St. From there, you're pretty good to go all the way up to Harvard.

    South of Navarre, the towpath isn't too bad...about the same as Navarre to Massillon, till you get just outside of Bolivar and have to take the road into Bolivar to find the trail again to Zoar.

    I recommend getting off the towpath (assuming northbound here) at Ira Rd in the CVNP and taking the Ira/Oakhill/Everett Rd route by Hale Farm and a nice old covered bridge. Everett takes you back to Riverview, just slightly north of the Bolanz Rd trailhead. No reason other than it's a nice ride.
    Last edited by chipcom; 09-09-11 at 09:31 PM.
    "Let us hope our weapons are never needed --but do not forget what the common people knew when they demanded the Bill of Rights: An armed citizenry is the first defense, the best defense, and the final defense against tyranny. If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. Only the police, the secret police, the military, the hired servants of our rulers. Only the government -- and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws" - Edward Abbey

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    Senior Member sonatageek's Avatar
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    I road through Akron earlier this summer and don't think I detoured off the trail. Has there been storm damage in the past few weeks? I know I went through an area where there was construction going on and a new bridge was being put up, but there was no problem walking my bike across.

    Quote Originally Posted by chipcom View Post
    When you get to Barteges Rd in Akron, you have to detour through downtown Akron to pick the towpath up again either near Lock 3 Park or at Ash Ave. It used to be a shorter detour, but the bridge is out on the small access road that enabled you to cross the river just south of Canal Park. I have no idea when the towpath will actually exist between Barteges Rd and the rest of the canal path near Canal Park. There is also a short stretch of road from Lock 3 Park to Ash St. From there, you're pretty good to go all the way up to Harvard.

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    Senior Member tombilcze's Avatar
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    No real storm damage.

    The trail section from Vanderhoof to the Snyder Road trailhead (between Clinton and Barberton) is almost complete. This 1/2 mile section was looking pretty goods when I passed by a few weeks back. If you cycle to the end from the south you can see the new tunnel and bridge. The surface has been laid. I think it is only a matter of weeks that it will be open.

    The Bartges Street bridge and underpass is also almost there. They paved Barteges and are working on the underpass. The trail was extended past the Spaghetti Warehouse but is blocked since you can't use the underpass yet. It also appears to be nearing completion. I rode past the blockades thru the Channelwood complex to the south and it is being rerouted there with a new bridge. It is also almost done.

    These two projects do indeed complete it through Summit County. It will always follow the couple of city blocks north of the Civic Theater to the Interbelt bridge. The route is nicely marked there.

    I am cycling the Towpath from Vanderhoof to Canal Fulton this afternoon. I'll make sure to post a report of the trail condition in Stark County.
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    your nightmare gal chipcom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sonatageek View Post
    I road through Akron earlier this summer and don't think I detoured off the trail. Has there been storm damage in the past few weeks? I know I went through an area where there was construction going on and a new bridge was being put up, but there was no problem walking my bike across.
    There are two places where there is bridge construction...one is Barteges, which is easy to get around, the other is a small bridge that connects the two Falor streets that I have always used...there are other ways to pick up the trail after Barteges tho.
    "Let us hope our weapons are never needed --but do not forget what the common people knew when they demanded the Bill of Rights: An armed citizenry is the first defense, the best defense, and the final defense against tyranny. If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. Only the police, the secret police, the military, the hired servants of our rulers. Only the government -- and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws" - Edward Abbey

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    your nightmare gal chipcom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tombilcze View Post
    No real storm damage.

    The trail section from Vanderhoof to the Snyder Road trailhead (between Clinton and Barberton) is almost complete. This 1/2 mile section was looking pretty goods when I passed by a few weeks back. If you cycle to the end from the south you can see the new tunnel and bridge. The surface has been laid. I think it is only a matter of weeks that it will be open.

    The Bartges Street bridge and underpass is also almost there. They paved Barteges and are working on the underpass. The trail was extended past the Spaghetti Warehouse but is blocked since you can't use the underpass yet. It also appears to be nearing completion. I rode past the blockades thru the Channelwood complex to the south and it is being rerouted there with a new bridge. It is also almost done.

    These two projects do indeed complete it through Summit County. It will always follow the couple of city blocks north of the Civic Theater to the Interbelt bridge. The route is nicely marked there.

    I am cycling the Towpath from Vanderhoof to Canal Fulton this afternoon. I'll make sure to post a report of the trail condition in Stark County.
    It's still a wee bit rough in spots as you near Canal Fulton, but nothing to worry about.
    "Let us hope our weapons are never needed --but do not forget what the common people knew when they demanded the Bill of Rights: An armed citizenry is the first defense, the best defense, and the final defense against tyranny. If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. Only the police, the secret police, the military, the hired servants of our rulers. Only the government -- and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws" - Edward Abbey

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    Older than dirt CCrew's Avatar
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    Before I begin, let me say thanks all for the wealth of information. It's greatly appreciated. The wife and I have been reading the posts and trying to work the logistics.

    Couple of questions. Some of the info we've seen says that this trail's easiest run south to north. I'm thinking "hey, it's a canal trail, can't be that far off flatlands". Is there an appreciable difference in direction? Wife's a 100lb rider and we will be carrying gear, it is a concern, albeit small.

    Looks like only the NPS trailheads allow 24 hour parking. We're looking at having a car sitting at a trailhead for 2-3 days. Anyone know if this is indeed true? If only the NPS that looks like it has us running north to south anyway, so they're somewhat interdependent.

    thanks!

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    your nightmare gal chipcom's Avatar
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    The only thing even resembling a climb is the southbound 5% grade into downtown Akron, otherwise nothing but a few little bumps and overpasses. Winds tend to come from the south and west for the most part...but usually are not much of an issue on the towpath anyway.

    You might consider starting out in Bolivar and staying at the Enchanted Pines B&B, and doing an out-and-back trip - it's only about 80 miles up to Cleveland...easily doable in one day, even loaded - and asking the folks at the B&B if you could keep your car there for your trip (staying another night upon your return, of course). You could do something similar starting from the north too.
    "Let us hope our weapons are never needed --but do not forget what the common people knew when they demanded the Bill of Rights: An armed citizenry is the first defense, the best defense, and the final defense against tyranny. If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. Only the police, the secret police, the military, the hired servants of our rulers. Only the government -- and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws" - Edward Abbey

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    Older than dirt CCrew's Avatar
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    Ok, sanity check us please :-)

    Drive to Independence Ohio - Overnight (lots of available hotels)
    Drive from hotel to Canal Visitors center (3-5 miles)
    South to Massillon - Overnight (Hampton Inn on 1st street just a couple blocks from trail)
    Massillon to Canton or Massillon to Akron Northside to pick up steam train - train back to visitors center.

    Only unknown on the train is that the Canton to Akron leg appears to be a question. It may be one train, but appears to be two separate with a changeover in Akron. Not a big deal, we're more than prepared to bike it all the way back if necessary. But the Canton to Akron info is scarce at best.

    Then we're leaving Ohio and doing the Pine Creek Trail (http://www.visittiogapa.com/railtrail.html ) in PA or the new Pittsburgh section of the GAP that just opened.

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    Senior Member tombilcze's Avatar
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    CCrew, That is a very doable plan. You will see the majority of the trail. You are correct that the Hampton Inn is just off the Massillon Towpath in downtown. Independence is a logical place to start. There are so many hotels and restaurants in Independence. Driving to the Canal Visitor's Center is a good idea since it is a very heavily traveled office park area and an extremely steep hill and busy road down into the Cuyahoga River Valley. I don't know about overnight parking but the Canal Visitor's Center has a large lot. The Rockside Road trailhead in Independence is very handy coming down the hill. The station there was just renovated and reopened mid summer. Regardless of which trail head you start at, make sure you start the day with breakfast at Your's Truly on the Towpath at Rockside Road. It is a northeast Ohio tradition of great breakfasts.

    Here is the story on the train. There are two trains that converge at Northside Station on the edge of Downtown Akron. The Canton-Akron line runs less often than the Akron-Cleveland line. Call the RR to confirm times. Across the street from the station is Luigi's. This is an Akron tradition of an old and quite good Italian eatery. Note that it is a cash only place. So, you can eat there if you need to wait for a train. Also note that the train goes into a limited schedule later in the year. So, verify the number of runs they make. The $3 Bike Aboard program is a real buy.

    My favorite Towpath sections are: Summit Lake boardwalk just south of I-76 in Akron, Mustill Store to Portage Path in Akron, Beaver Marsh in CVNP and the Peninsula to Brecksville section in CVNP.

    Tom
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    Senior Member DCwom's Avatar
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    Good info. We just did the Erie canal in NY. The Ohio & Erie canal has been on my "investigate" list and this thread has been very informative.

    Anyone know if the train will take a tandem?

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    Quote Originally Posted by CCrew View Post
    Ok, sanity check us please :-)

    Drive from hotel to Canal Visitors center (3-5 miles)
    This might be a small hitch. Last time I was through, the Canal train depot was closed for repairs. Not sure if it was flood damage or not, but this summer has been rough on the valley. I can reconnoiter this weekend and see. Guess your worst case is de-training at Station Road Bridge and riding back down to Canal.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DCwom View Post
    Good info. We just did the Erie canal in NY. The Ohio & Erie canal has been on my "investigate" list and this thread has been very informative.

    Anyone know if the train will take a tandem?
    Not sure what "official" policy is, but the people manning the train go out of their way to be accommodating. I can't imagine a tandem being an issue, unless it's a real busy day and there's a space issue. Here's the official BikeAboard page, maybe drop them a line.

    http://www.cvsr.com/bikeaboard.aspx

  25. #25
    Older than dirt CCrew's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dewaday View Post
    This might be a small hitch. Last time I was through, the Canal train depot was closed for repairs. Not sure if it was flood damage or not, but this summer has been rough on the valley. I can reconnoiter this weekend and see. Guess your worst case is de-training at Station Road Bridge and riding back down to Canal.
    According to the CVSR the Rockside station is re-opened. Looks like our only current hitch is that the NPS is saying the trail itself is going to be closed Mon-Wed of next week for flood abatement repairs between the Boston Store and Lock 29 trailheads. We've mapped a several mile detour around it by road.

    If you're saying that the Visitors center station is closed I'm interested if that's the case. Knowing that Rockside is open that's one that allows 24 hour parking, we'll just divert to there. NPS policy is that any of their 24 hour trailheads can be used long term, we just have to notify their communications center. Seems prudent so they don't launch a search/rescue thinking we're lost in the park or something.
    Last edited by CCrew; 09-13-11 at 04:01 PM.

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