Bike and Hike / Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail Loop: Cleveland to Stow, Overnighter.

NOTE: More information with a 25 mile day trip loop and map that shows the route from the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail to the Summit County Bike and Hike Trail is located here.

This is a nice loop trail and can be a great introduction to touring with an overnight stay at the approximate halfway point. The entire loop is roughly 70 miles. It is best to follow the Bike and Hike trail south and return on the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath trail, north. We will start the description from Cleveland, at the Cleveland Metroparks Harvard Road Trail Head, just below the big blue ALCOA plant.

– Head south from the Harvard trail head. In about four miles, you will come to a large visitor center, up the hill on the east side of the trail. You will know you are there when you see the 200 foot high train trestle crossing the valley. There’s a good chance you will see a train there- it’s a pretty busy line. There are latrines down by the trail and restrooms and water at the visitor center.
– In a few miles, the trail crosses over a couple major streets on two really cool (and really expensive!) suspension bridges. Right before the first bridge is a great little resting spot. It’s always shady and there is a kiosk and a large chunk of quarry stone that you can rest on. Across the road is a small park with water and bathrooms.
– A few more miles south and you will come to Rockside road. There is trail head parking and there are several restaurants there. We have eaten at the Yours Truly a few times. Nice atmosphere. Awesome shakes! This is also the northernmost railroad station on the CVSR. From this point south, the trail becomes crushed limestone. You are now in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
– About a 1/4 north of Rockside, across Canal road, there are a few other restaurants. We’ve eaten at the Quaker Steak and Lube. No big deal there.
– About four more miles south, you will come to the Canal Visitor Center. There are bathrooms, water and picnic tables, trail head parking and a CVSR station. They also have a working lock there. We have seen it demonstrated and it is really something in its simplicity of design and how fast and efficient it fills and empties. Check with the Visitor Center for hours of operation.


NOTE: There is no water along the Bike and Hike trail. Make sure you fill up here at the Canal Visitor Center!

– Less than a mile south of the visitor center, you will come to Tinkers Creek road. It’s actually along Canal road (the road following the trail). There is a traffic light there and a bridge over the canal from the trail to the road. Cross the bridge to Tinkers Creek road.
– Take Tinkers Creek road east to Dunham road. It is very flat, easy to ride, and traffic is courteous.
– Just before Dunham road, you will see Tinkers Creek Tavern on the right. Good place to eat. We’ve eaten there.
– Turn right (south) onto Dunham road. Astorhurst Golf Course is at the corner. Climb the Dunham road hill. It is very steep, but mercifully short. Traffic can be a little scary here. There’s a gravel driveway at the top where you can safely pull off to catch your breath.
– Follow Dunham road to Alexander road. Along the way, you will see the Metro Parks Bike Path coming down Egbert road on your left and following along Dunham in your direction. It’s such a short distance to Alexander road, that we usually just stay on Dunham, not the trail. Turn right on Alexander, go up a little hill and look for the Bike and Hike Trail Head on your left. There is a latrine. The trail is pretty flat and straight. Great views of the Cuyahoga River valley to the west. This is an abandoned electric railway that ran from Cleveland to Akron, the Akron, Bedford & Cleveland Railroad Co. The ABC road, (or Alphabet Road) ran from 1895 until 1932. Fare was 50 cents and the ride was 2 1/2 hours.


NOTE: There are a few road crossings along the Bike and Hike trail. Many of them have blind turns or hills. Do not take chances! There is one extremely dangerous crossing at Rt. 82 (Aurora rd.). We suggest you dismount and walk across. It’s a four lane 50 mph road. Everything else has a nice bridge going over it.


Note: Just south of RT. 82 (Aurora rd.) you will cross Holzhauer road. There you will see signs for a connector to the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail, called the Carriage Trail. It is steep, but may be a useful shortcut on another day.

– Brandywine road. The trail used to end here and you would have to take the road. It was dangerous. But no more! The new trail turns right and follows Brandywine road, crossing four wooden bridges before it turns into the woods and runs down hill in a slow, sweeping arc to the left. It gets you rolling pretty fast, so watch for trail users ahead of you. At the bottom are the Scenic Brandywine Falls. They are worth a look if you are not in a hurry. At this point, the new trail goes through a tunnel and comes up at the Brandywine Falls trail head.

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There are bathrooms (composting toilets), but no water, and a nice picnic area. From the trail head, the new trail continues south over I-271. You have to do this stretch on the road, but soon there will be a swell new bicycle bridge! Awesome!

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Above: the new bridge just before it was installed.

The Inn at Brandywine Falls is a bed and breakfast. We have never stayed there but it looks great and seems worth mentioning. If you’ve been there on bike, drop us a line.
– At RT. 303 there is a trail head and a gas station just a few feet down the road where you can get snacks. Use caution, the trail head path is steep.
– Eventually, you will come to a split in the trail. Take the fork to the right. You will pass through some neighborhoods (still on the trail) and eventually you will come out, paralleling RT. 8 on your right side. You are coming into Stow. This is the approximate half-way point. (The left fork takes you to Kent and Portage County.)
– At Steels Corners road, there will be several hotels and places to eat on both sides of RT. 8. There is a Fridays, Texas Roadhouse, Rocknes and Subway on the east side and a Hampton Inn. We have stayed at the Hampton Inn many times and it is nice, they have a pool. Its great to be able to walk to the restaurants. On the west side there is Brubakers, Skyline Chili, plus Mexican, pizza and Hunan and a Courtyard and Staybridge Suites hotels. We ate at Brubakers. It was OK. Young crowd, bad music, free wifi, close (just a short stroll) to our hotel (Courtyard). The Courtyard ($110) was really nice. Our room had a fridge, microwave and a small balcony. They sell Good Beer by the bottle in the lobby. There are also gas stations on either side of RT. 8 that sell beer. The station on the west side had Good Beer. Don’t remember what the east side had.
– Now you will leave the trail for a few miles and ride west on Steels Corners road. There is a long, gradual climb. Traffic is fast, but the road is wide enough. The traffic thins out pretty quickly, by the time you hit the top of the hill.
At State street, there is a great mom and pop diner. Reggie’s Diner is to the right (north) on State and will be on the right hand side, just a few feet from Steels Corners. We had breakfast there. I suggest the ham steak and eggs!

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Anyway, continue down Steels Corners road. It will start going down hill. Very pleasant. You will pass Blossom Music Center on your right (summer home of the Cleveland Orchestra). A little while after that, the downhill starts to get really steep. Be careful! (We’ve hit well over 40 mph here!) There is a stop sign at the bottom! It’s a little ways to the bottom, but if you didn’t know it was there, it has a way of sneaking up on you.
– At the bottom of Steels Corners you will turn left onto Akron Peninsula road. Very quickly, at the stop sign, you will turn right onto West Bath road. Keep an eye open to your left and you will see many nests of Great Blue Heron. West Bath will cross the Cuyahoga River and then Riverview road. After that, you will cross the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail about 500 feet north of the Botzum Trail Head (latrines, no water). Left on the trail, towards Botzum, heads south, right heads back north. To complete this loop, turn north. You can also catch the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad (CVSR) north, here at Botzum, and at several other stations along the trail. Fair is only $2 for bicyclists! Check their website for the schedule!
– Here, the trail is crushed limestone. You WILL be cleaning your chain tonight!
– In about 6 or 7 miles, you will come to the town of Peninsula. Peninsula is a fantastic little town along RT. 303 on the Towpath trail. There are several places to eat there. There is a Winking Lizard and our favorite place, Fisher’s Cafe. Fisher’s has a great atmosphere, really awesome burgers and a decent selection of beers. We’ve eaten there often. There is also a Century Cycles there. You can rent bikes from them, get repairs, buy a bike, get water, or just hang out. The CVSR also stops in Peninsula.
– North of Peninsula a few miles is the little town of Boston. There is a very small store (We’ve never been in it), a really nice small canal boat museum/visitor center and water and restrooms.
– About a mile or so north of Boston is the Youth Hostel, the Stanford House. It’s down a mysterious dirt road off the east side of the trail. There is also overnight camping there. We have never stayed there. Yet.
– North of Tinker’s Creek road will be the Canal Visitor Center. There are bathrooms, water and picnic tables, trail head parking and a CVSR station. They also have a working lock there. We have seen it demonstrated and it is really something in its simplicity of design and how fast and efficient it fills and empties. Check with the Visitor Center for hours of operation.
– About four miles north of the Canal Visitor Center is Rockside road. There is trail head parking and there are several restaurants there. We have eaten at the Yours Truly a few times. Nice atmosphere. Awesome shakes! This is also the northernmost railroad station on the CVSR. From this point north, the trail again becomes paved.
– About a 1/4 north of Rockside, across Canal road, there are a few other restaurants. We’ve eaten at the Quaker Steak and Lube . No big deal there.
– About a mile, or less, north of Rockside, the trail crosses over a couple major streets on two really cool (and really expensive!) suspension bridges. North of the second bridge is a great little resting spot. It’s always shady and there is a large chunk of quarry stone that you can rest on. Across the road is a small park with water and bathrooms.
– The trail rolls north about four miles to another very large visitor center, up the hill on the east side of the trail. You will know you are there when you see the 200 foot high train trestle crossing the valley. There’s a good chance you will see a train there- it’s a pretty busy line. There are bathrooms down by the trail.
– A couple more miles north and you will be at the Harvard road trail head. This is ostensibly the end of the trail. You are just a few short miles from downtown Cleveland. The trail now becomes a bike route. Turn left out of the parking lot. Cross the small bridge over the Cuyahoga River. Cross the tracks and turn right at the light. The trail proceeds north from there, on Jennings road, passing behind Steel Yard Commons, a sprawling retail center.

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