THING TO DO

Short Towpath Trail Walks

A woman walks beside a man on a flat trail, resting a hand on the back of his motorized wheelchair.
A couple strolls the Towpath Trail near Beaver Marsh.

© J.J. Prekop, Jr.

The Towpath Trail is beloved in Northeast Ohio. People use it for walking, running, biking, wildlife watching, cross-country skiing, and—in a few spots—horseback riding. It is about 100 miles long, with about 20 miles of those in the national park. Here we are recommending several short walks for those who have mobility disabilities, are visiting with children, or have limited time. These highlights include Ira Trailhead to Beaver Marsh, Station Road Bridge to Mudcatcher, and Canal Exploration Center to Tinkers Creek Aqueduct. The Towpath Trail offers you the opportunity to hike at your own pace and distance. You can visit these locations all in one day or spread the walks out over multiple visits. You’ll find more detailed information, including a list of amenities, at the links to each trailhead.

Canal Exploration Center to Tinkers Creek Aqueduct

Stroll through history in the northern part of Cuyahoga Valley. Begin at Canal Exploration Center, open seasonally. The trailhead has an information kiosk with park maps, picnic tables, and restrooms. Follow the walkway to the historic white building beside the reconstructed Lock 38. Outdoor exhibits explain how a canal lock worked and the businesses that served waiting boat passengers. Take a photo with Blossom (the bronze mule) and continue south on the Towpath Trail. Tinkers Creek Aqueduct is a natural place to turn around. There are benches along the way. The roundtrip is 1 mile. Extend the walk to 3 miles by turning around at Wilson/Alexander Mill, with Frazee House just beyond there.

Station Road Bridge to Mudcatcher

This walk combines scenic views of the Cuyahoga River with transportation history and opportunities to see wildlife. Begin at the information kiosk at Station Road Bridge Trailhead. There are restrooms, benches, and drinking water at the nearby Brecksville Station. A cluster of exhibits celebrates the recovery of the Cuyahoga River. These include a tactile eagle and fish as well as an audio station and a heron statue. The view from Station Road Bridge is a favorite with photographers. Continue along the connector to the Towpath Trail and turn left. Take the first left to see where two dams were removed in 2020. Continue north until the path rejoins the main trail. Just beyond the Lock 36 panel is the Mudcatcher panel. During the nesting season, continue a little farther to see the valley’s first eagle nest. At the start of the open field, look left to spy a huge bundle of sticks high in a tree across the river. Turn around here and return along the Towpath to the trailhead. This loop is about 1.5 miles.

Boston Store Trailhead to Lock 32

This short walk explores Boston’s history as a canal town. The Boston Store Trailhead offers handicap and limited mobility parking. (Other visitors need to park at Boston Trailhead.) Both lots have bulletin boards with information and park maps. There is drinking water at the restrooms behind the historic store. Shopping and refreshments are inside. Seating is available on the wraparound porch. The Towpath Trail runs beside the building. Cross the road to explore exhibits about canal boat building, including a small play boat for children. Walk north until you reach Lock 32 and its tactile panel. At the far end, look for wildlife in the wetlands which have formed in the old canal. Double back for a roundtrip of 0.2 miles. This walk can be combined with a stop at nearby Boston Mill Visitor Center, open daily.

Lock 29 to Peninsula Feeder

Start at the Lock 29 Trailhead parking lot. Accessible restrooms are on the east end by the railroad tracks. An information kiosk is on the west end with the historic canal lock just beyond. Walk inside to explore the tactile exhibits. The Towpath Trail crosses over Lock 29 and the Cuyahoga River. Note that the ramp to the upper level has a steeper (but wheelchair accessible) grade. Be alert for bike traffic. Views from the pedestrian bridge are lovely and there is another graphic panel on the far side at the Moody and Thomas Mill ruins. Turn around and head north to Lock 30 and the Peninsula Feeder to further explore river and canal history. From Lock 29 Trailhead to Peninsula Feeder and back is 1.5 miles. This area can be congested around midday on warm weekends.

Hunt House to Lock 27

Start at Hunt House Trailhead which offers seating and park maps at the information kiosk. Cross the road to the small visitor center with seasonal hours. Hunt House offers an area to picnic, restrooms with flush toilets, and outdoor tactile and audio exhibits about growing up in the village of Everett. Walk a short distance north on the Towpath Trail to Lock 27 to learn more about canal history and village life. From Hunt House Trailhead to Lock 27 and back is .5 miles.

Ira Trailhead to the Beaver Marsh

Park at Ira Trailhead and pick up a map at the bulletin board, if needed. The trailhead offers a picnic area, restroom access, and tactile wildlife exhibits. Follow the short connecting path to the Towpath Trail and turn left. Wildlife is common in the old canal to your left, now part of a larger wetland. Head north for 0.25 miles to reach the boardwalk. The viewing platforms have several benches and more tactile exhibits. Beaver Marsh is popular throughout the year. The best time of day to visit is mornings or evenings when wildlife is most active. Turn around at the boardwalk, or walk a little farther north to the graphic panel and bench overlooking the Cuyahoga River.

Details
Take as much time as you need for these walks. To do them all, we recommend spreading them out over one or two days.
The short hikes can be enjoyed from ages 3 and older.

Leashed pets are permitted on the Towpath Trail, but not in park buildings. Leashes must be 6 feet long or less.

Entrance fees may apply, see Fees & Passes information.

Canal Exploration Center to Tinkers Creek Aqueduct, Park at Canal Exploration Center, 7104 Canal Road, Valley View, Ohio 44125 and hike south on the Towpath Trail.

Station Road Bridge to Mudcatcher, Park at Station Road Bridge Trailhead, 9141 Riverview Road, Brecksville, Ohio 44141. Cross the bridge and walk north on the Towpath Trail. 

Boston Store Trailhead to Lock 32, Park at Boston Trailhead, 1508 Boston Mills Road, Peninsula, Ohio 44264. (Accessible parking at Boston Store Trailhead.) Walk north on the Towpath Trail.

Lock 29 to Peninsula Feeder, Park at Lock 29 Trailhead, 1648 Mill Street, Peninsula, Ohio 44264. Walk north on the Towpath Trail.

Lock 29 to Moody and Thomas Mill Site, Park at Lock 29 Trailhead, 1648 Mill Street, Peninsula, Ohio 44264. Take the Towpath Trail south across the river.

Hunt House Trailhead to Hunt House and Outdoor Exhibits, Park at Hunt House Trailhead, 2054 Bolanz Road, Peninsula, Ohio 44264 and walk across the street.

Ira Trailhead to Beaver Marsh, Park at Ira Trailhead, 3801 Riverview Road, Peninsula, Ohio 44264. Turn left and walk north on the Towpath Trail.

While the Towpath Trail is open during the winter months, the park does not clear snow from the trail.
The towpath can get busy with walkers and bikers. We suggest using the towpath in the early mornings if you want to escape crowds and congestion on the trail.
Accessibility Information

The Towpath Trail is wheelchair accessible, except during certain weather conditions. The park does not clear trails of snow and ice. Certain spots flood or become muddy after heavy rains, especially in the spring. Within the national park, the surface is mostly compacted crushed limestone. There are short paved sections and several wooden boardwalks and footbridges. Service animals and leashed comfort pets are welcome. The Towpath Trail has a few stone benches. See our Physical/Mobility disabilities page for information about Other Power Driven Mobility Devices. See our Blindness/Low Vision page for a list of audio described locations and tactile exhibits. Note that the Towpath Trail is a multi-use trail shared by people who are walking, running, bicycling, and (in some places) horsebacking riding. For your safety, follow the Towpath guidelines.

Last updated: June 23, 2021