The Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail serves as the heart of the Ohio & Erie Canalway National Heritage Area, designated by Congress from Cleveland to New Philadelphia. Paralleling the trail are two other routes by which to travel: the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad and the Canalway Scenic Byway.
The Canalway defines a region rich in natural, cultural, scenic and recreational resources. The Towpath Trail and other places of interest along the Canalway have been developed and are managed by many different entities that work cooperatively to preserve and interpret natural and cultural history. The heart of this heritage area is the Ohio & Erie Canal, the first inland waterway connecting the Great Lakes with the Gulf of Mexico.
On the Towpath you are almost always close to water since the trail parallels the Cuyahoga and Tuscarawas Rivers. In the Akron and the Portage Lakes areas, land parts the waters. The Cuyahoga River water is sent north to Lake Erie, and the Tuscarawas River water is sent south to the Ohio River where it will continue to the Gulf of Mexico. The trail also goes through three physiographic regions, unique from the surrounding land: the thin bank of Lake Plains near the mouth of the Cuyahoga River, the glaciated plateau from mid-Cuyahoga County to Navarre, and an unglaciated plateau south of Navarre to New Philadelphia. The unglaciated plateau is the oldest landscape, characterized by rolling hills and steep valleys. Most of the trail is in the glaciated region, with beech-maple forest and ice-age relic hemlock ravines.
As you walk or ride along the trail you may see great blue heron and kingfishers dining on small fish and amphibians. Look for painted turtles basking in the sun, or signs of beavers helping to turn the tide of declining wetlands. Chipmunks and squirrels often scamper across the trail and you may even see white-tail deer along the edge of fields and forest. Hawks and vultures can often be seen soaring high above, while songbirds sing from perches along the trail. Various deciduous trees, like oak and maple, shade the trail in summer and come alive with color in the autumn. All of this is played out amongst ancient rocks and geology. The study of nature is endless and satisfying.
We along with our incredible partners are working diligently to preserve this wildlife for future generations to enjoy. We also encourage education of wildlife with programs like the Cargill and PNC Fishing Derby. Help today by checking out one of the many opportunities you have to become a steward of your environment.