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Back to Ohio to Erie Trail Tour: Day 4 – Howard to Canal Fulton
I woke up early in the camper belonging to my Warm Showers hosts Ray and Dawn, and killed some time catching on on email with my smartphone. I went into the house and found Ray in the kitchen, and enjoyed a cup of coffee with him before I walked into town to get some breakfast.
If you’re looking for a traditional breakfast in Canal Fulton, with eggs, bacon, pancakes, and the works in generous portions, look no further than Sisters Century House Restaurant.
I came back to find Ray preparing his hybrid bike to join me on the first part of the final day of my ride. I met his wife Dawn, and she got a photo of us preparing to depart.
Ray and I rode onto the Towpath and headed north. From Canal Fulton, you pass through Clinton, then Barberton, then Akron. Just south of downtown Akron is the highest point on the Towpath Trail.
At the Wilbeth Road Trailhead, there’s one of the new do-it-yourself bike repair stations installed earlier this year by the Summit Metro Parks.
Just south of downtown, the Towpath Trail goes around, and sometimes over, Summit Lake on the floating bridge, construction of which was completed in 2009.
Right in downtown Akron, a new bike repair station that I had not seen before can be found near the Richard Howe House.
Arriving in downtown Akron, Ray turned around to head back home to Canal Fulton, after taking a picture of me against some Akron buidings.
I continued north, first crossing the bridge over State Route 59/Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
The next segment contains the longest hill (about 1/2 mile) on the Towpath Trail (downhill when going north), through Cascade Locks Park.
At the Memorial Parkway Trailhead, you’ll find another of the bike repair stations installed earlier this year by Summit Metro Parks.
About eight miles north of Akron, the Towpath Trail enters the Cuyahoga Valley National Park at the Botzum Trailhead.
A couple of miles further north is the scenic Beaver Marsh, a restored wetland, where the Towpath Trail passes through on a wooden boardwalk.
When I arrived in the village of Peninsula, I had to stop to check in on my co-workers at Century Cycles. There are two major established bike routes that pass through Peninsula. In addition to the Ohio to Erie Trail, there’s the Adventure Cycling Association‘s Underground Railroad Bicycle Route. Thus, we see a lot of long-distance bicycle tourists stopping by, and we try to keep a record of as many as we can in our Bicycle Touring Photo Gallery. I was proud to finally become a member of the gallery myself.
My lunch consisted of a donut and a cinnamon roll, which they had brought in to celebrate my arrival.
About three miles north of Peninsula, I got my second and last flat tire of the trip. It ended up being in the same spot as the one I got on Day 1, and it appeared to be on the inside face of the inner tube, which I thought was strange. (I would discover a few days later that there was a sharp ridge on my rim that caused both flats, so it wasn’t glass after all.)
About seven miles north of Peninsula, the Towpath Trail passes under the Brecksville-Northfield High Level Bridge, which was the intended target of a 2012 bomb plot that was foiled by an undercover FBI agent.
About five miles further north is the Canal Exploration Center, which was recently re-vamped and renovated with all-new exhibits documenting the 19th-century canal era. Here, you can also find public restrooms that have sinks with running water, and water fountains (where I did the last top-off of my water bottles).
Two more miles up, near Rockside Road in the city of Independence, the Towpath Trail exits the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and comes under the jurisdiction of the Cleveland Metroparks. The trail is paved beginning in this area. There’s a small plaza here, with a Malley’s chocolate shop and two restaurants–Yours Truly for diner-type fare, and the more upscale Lockkeepers.
Completed in the mid 2000’s were two graceful suspension bridges that allow Towpath Trail traffic to pass over the busy intersections on Granger Road and Warner Road in the city of Valley View.
The Towpath Trail ends at Harvard Road about 5 miles short of downtown Cleveland. A left on Harvard, then a right on Jennings Road takes you to the Steelyard Commons shopping plaza, where the developers built an extension of the trail that runs through the middle of the plaza, as well as behind on the east side. From there, the trail loops through two tunnels and around a ramp leading up to W. 14th Street in the neighborhood of Tremont, where you’ll find A Christmas Story House.
I made my way through the streets of Tremont and stopped at the Abbey Avenue overlook for the best view of downtown Cleveland that I would have on the ride.
As I got closer to Lake Erie, the winds started picking up even more than they had been all afternoon. I proceeded into the west side neighborhood of Ohio City, and as I rode west on Lorain Avenue across W. 25th Street, a big northerly gust almost knocked me over. I continued to the Gordon Square neighborhood, which has a connector trail into Edgewater Park, the official end of the Ohio to Erie Trail. I asked a passerby to take my picture with Lake Erie in the background.
Mileage for the final day was 61.
The mileage for the entire trip was 365, give or take because of the computer issues I had earlier in the week.
The winds were coming harder than ever straight out of the east. I walked up onto the observation platform that extends out over the lake. As I leaned by bike against the railing, the wind caught it and it slammed against the railing with a CLUNK, and it was literally a struggle to pull it away. I had to time my exit from the platform to avoid the waves crashing over.
It was so windy that there were surfers on Lake Erie, something that’s not possible very often. I got this video to show the winds and the waves.
Here’s my route for the final day.
I’d recommend the Ohio to Erie Trail for anyone looking for a bike touring route that’s easy to plan, easy to navigate, and not too difficult terrain. For experienced bike tourers, it’s a nice short trip when you can’t make time for a major trip. For beginners, it’s easy enough, and there are many options for camping or hotels, whichever your preference.
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Thanks for your well written report. Hoping to do the same ride soon.
Thanks for sharing. Planning to ride summer of 2021.