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.