words and photographs by Anthony Boarman

If you’re looking for a more rigorous hike around Akron, the Valley Link trail is one that you will enjoy. Providing over five miles of out-and-back trail through scenic woods and over the Cuyahoga River, the Valley Link connects the Schumacher area of Cascade Valley Metro Park to the popular Wadsworth area of Sand Run Metro Park in Northwest Akron.

You can choose to start your adventure at either end of the trail, but I prefer starting in the Schumacher area. It wasn’t until recently that I discovered this gem of the Summit Metro Parks. It’s easily overlooked because it’s tucked away from the other Cascade Valley locations. It doesn’t get as much hype as some of the other sites, but that’s what I love about it.

Starting in the Schumacher area will take you along the combined Schumacher and Valley Link Trails. About halfway into your hike, the trail will split. Follow the Valley Link downhill to the left. The Schumacher loop trail will continue straight. You will decrease in elevation a few hundred feet before you come to my favorite hidden foot bridge over the Cuyahoga River.

After crossing over the Cuyahoga, you will turn left and briefly walk the Towpath Trail before turning right to follow the Valley Link. This portion of the trail will take you over the former Ohio & Erie Canal. You will even briefly cross over the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad tracks before connecting with a set of stairs going uphill. Finally, after crossing over Merriman Road and one more mile of hiking, you will reach the end of the Valley Link trail in the Wadsworth Area of Sand Run.

Still feeling good? Continue on one of the many trails provided in Sand Run, including the statewide Buckeye Trail. If you’re ready to head back, just retrace your steps — and prepare for a nice uphill climb on your return trip.

Outdoor Gems Challenge:

As I have learned to love our parks, I have also learned to hate finding trash in them. We can all play a small part in keeping our trails clean. I want to challenge you to start carrying a small plastic grocery bag each time you hike. If you really want to get eco-friendly, Amazon sells reusable mesh ones. When you come across trash, pick it up. This makes the experience better for every future visitor. You also never know who might be watching — your actions could help motivate others to do the same.

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.

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