Cleveland, OH

Towpath Trail/Cuyahoga Valley National Park

The currently 87-mile (eventually 101-mile) Towpath Trail, running south from Cleveland through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and far beyond, forms the spine of the trails in the national park.  Along the trail, whose northernmost trailhead is located at Scranton Flats, there are historic buildings, museums, pleasant villages, restaurants, pubs, and wildlife. The trail is easily accessible by car, with trailheads every few miles.  Almost all of these have bathroom facilities, and water fountains area also available at many of the bigger trailheads.

In the National Park, the mostly gravel trail runs alongside the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.  The CVSR’s seasonal Bike/Hike Aboard! program (https://www.cvsr.org/bike-aboard/) offers runners the chance to ride the railroad one way for a low price and return on foot in the other direction.  Our map includes the mileage distance between key trailheads.  The northernmost CVSR station is located at the Lock 39 trailhead, which also provides easy access to the park from the north.  The trailheads at Boston Store and Peninsula (Lock 29) are also noteworthy, as both offer small non-profit stores with food and drink options.

Because the trail runs roughly along the Cuyahoga River, it is for the most part very flat, but the Towpath connects to many other trails in the area that can add challenge or a change of scenery.  A connection at the Station Road trailhead leads directly into the Brecksville Reservation, an Emerald Necklace park (https://greatruns.com/cleveland-emerald-necklace/).  Between Station Road and Red Lock, the Old Carriage trail offers an easy way to loop off the Towpath.  For an interesting excursion, consider turning off the Towpath to the Indigo Lake trailhead and then taking the Hale Farm Connector Trail.  The end of this short trail offers a view of Hale Farm and Village, a local living history museum with historic buildings from around the region.  Further south, between the Portage Trail and Big Bend trailheads, the Summit Metro Parks’ Valley Link Trail connects the Towpath west to Sand Run Metropark.  Sand Run’s Jogging Trail is extremely popular with local runners. The Jogging Trail also further connects to the Mingo and Dogwood Trails for challenging, hilly terrain.  The map of Sand Run illustrates how these trails fit together.

Beyond the Towpath, the National Park also has several other noteworthy trails.  One highlight is the Plateau Trail, a 4.4-mile loop (400 feet elevation gain) with starting point near the village of Peninsula.  The Valley Trail also stretches over some 25 miles of rolling terrain in the park, with access points at Everett Covered Bridge, Hunt Farm, Wetmore, Boston, and Brecksville Reservation.  For a slightly shorter option, the Salt Run Trail is a 3.3-mile loop (160 feet elevation gain) in the eastern half of the park.  Beyond these, the National Park also offers an extensive range of other trails, from multi-use trails to more challenging ones.

Our thanks to Great Runs user Rebecca Jarvis for her help with this route!




 

 

 

 

Essentials
  • Multiple Distance Options
  • Northernmost Trailhead is located just east of the intersection of Jennings and Harvard Ave West, about 5 miles south of downtown
  • Multiple access points

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Essentials
  • Multiple Distance Options
  • Northernmost Trailhead is located just east of the intersection of Jennings and Harvard Ave West, about 5 miles south of downtown
  • Multiple access points