Welcome to the Ohio & Erie Towpath Trail! This multi-purpose trail was developed by the National Park Service and is the major trail through Cuyahoga Valley National Park. From it you can make connections to many of the natural and historic sites in the park and to other trails that intersect it along the way.
History of the Ohio & Erie Towpath Trail
The Towpath Trail follows the historic route of the Ohio & Erie Canal. Before the canal was built, Ohio was a sparsely settled wilderness where travel was difficult and getting crops to market was nearly impossible. The canal, built between 1825 and 1832, provided a successful transportation route from Cleveland, on Lake Erie, to Portsmouth, on the Ohio River. The canal opened up Ohio to the rest of the settled eastern United States.
The Towpath Trail Today
Today you can walk or ride along the same path that the mules used to tow the canal boats loaded with goods and passengers. You can still see remnants of that former scene as you pass many of the canal locks and related structures. From the vantage point of the Towpath Trail you can also enjoy the beauty of forests, fields, and wetlands flanking the path as it winds its way through the Cuyahoga River Valley.
A visit to Canal Exploration Center, Boston Store Visitor Center, Peninsula Depot Visitor Center, or Hunt house can make your outing on the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail even more enjoyable. At these stops you can talk to a park ranger, see exhibits, and get information.
The Towpath Trail is open 24 hours, giving you the chance to explore after dark. Within the national park, the trail is level and hard-packed for people using wheelchairs, bicycles, or strollers. The National Park Service does not plow the trail in the winter to permit cross-country skiing.
Please note: If you planning a multi-day Towpath Trail ride, please contact our Communications Center at 440-546-5945 to inform staff where you parked your vehicle. This will ensure our law enforcement rangers do not tag your vehicle as "abandoned".
To check for potential towpath trail closures, click here.
From April through October, you can bicycle one way and return by train for $5 using Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad's Bike Aboard! service. Runners and hikers pay $9. You can catch the train at any boarding station. There are no guaranteed seats. Schedules are available at boarding stations, visitor centers, and online at www.CVSR.com.
Safety on the Towpath Trail
The Towpath Trail is a shared recreational trail. This means it is open to walkers, joggers, and bicyclists, and in some sections, horse riders. To ensure an enjoyable trail experience for all users, please observe some basic trail courtesy.
- Travel at a safe speed and keep to the right except to pass others.
- Bicyclists yield to ALL users.
- Don't risk a head injury. Always wear a helmet when cycling.
- EVERYONE yields to horses. Horses can be startled by sudden movements, so use caution. Make sure the rider knows in advance that you are passing.
- Give a clear warning before passing on the left.
- Travel single file when passing and being passed.
- Pets must be kept on a leash; please use a short leash and keep pets on the right side of the trail.
- Please avoid walking in cross country ski tracks.
- Move off the trail when stopped.
The Towpath Trail in All Seasons
The photo album below shows images of the Towpath Trail through the national park. Click on individual photos for each photographer's name and click here for copyright restrictions if you want to download photos.