words and photos by Anthony Boarman
This is a two-part Outdoor Gems series on the Towpath Trail, one of Northeast Ohio’s most prized recreational trails. The focus of Part II travels north this month from the Mustill Store to the Beaver Marsh. To read Part I, click here.
Last month’s Outdoor Gems column attempted to give some love to a piece of the Towpath that often goes unrecognized. If you haven’t explored north from the Cascade Valley to the Summit Lake area, I highly recommend you see all that it has to offer.
This month, I set out to capture the beauty of the more popular portion of the trail from the Mustill Store to the Beaver Marsh. Recently, this portion of the trail has been redirected due to the Akron Waterways Renewed Sewer Project, but in my opinion, it is all the more reason to bike it.
When you start your journey at the Mustill Store, you will quickly be detoured to your left to go up Hickory Street. This is where you can see one of my favorite streets in Akron. Some have avoided starting at this point due to the detour, but it has created an opportunity to see a small part of Akron that, prior to the sewer project, was mostly an unknown commodity.
Hickory is unique because it offers a mix of something old and something new. Within the last decade, several new construction homes have popped up along this street, which makes it an interesting neighborhood for potential Akron residents and the future of the city. It also offers a great overlook of the interceptor tunnel for the ongoing sewer project. Once you reach Memorial Parkway, you’ll hop back on to the original trail.
This portion of the Towpath is popular among Akronites for walking, biking and running. It’s likely that you have experienced it for yourself before, but have you appreciated everything it offers? I biked this route on two occasions not only to take photos for this issue, but also to discover the beauty that is often overlooked here.
If you’re anything like me, you want to get on your bike and go without stopping, but the times that I get off my bike allow me to appreciate some sites along the way: a beautiful bridge along the Valley Link Trail that hovers over the Cuyahoga River, Peter Jones’ statue of an American Indian portaging his canoe at the northern terminus of the Portage Path, the Poop Factory aka Akron’s Water Reclamation Facility (just kidding – go as fast as you can through here!), the southern entrance to Ohio’s only national park – OUR Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Botzum Farm, historic canal locks and my favorite, the Beaver Marsh.
There are other twists and turns that will catch your eye if you’re looking. Our lives are more fast-paced than ever before. Don’t forget to slow down, hop off your bike, and soak in the scenery (and maybe snap a few pictures if that’s your thing).
Do you love biking? Do you love the Towpath? The Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition will be hosting “Towpath 50” on Saturday, September 15, 2018. This is a bicycling event to raise funds for the continued development, maintenance and activation of the Ohio & Erie Canalway National Heritage Area, Towpath Trail and connector trails. Learn more at www.towpath50.com.
Anthony Boarman is a social studies teacher and coach at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School. He lives in Wallhaven with his wife Emily, daughter Sadie and his dog Ava. He is a lover of all things Akron. To check out more of his work, follow Anthony on Instagram at @aboarman.