Open for leisure: Stage 3 of the Towpath Trail sees its first visitors with ribbon cutting

The Ohio & Erie Canalway Towpath Trail Extension project is getting close to its completion with the opening of Stage 3 of the Towpath Trail extension project that connects 100 miles of trails and paths between New Philadelphia and Cleveland’s lakefront.

Stage 3 spans an urban stretch of 1.9 miles between the northern entrance to Steelyard Commons and Literary Avenue in Tremont—an area that was once brownfield—and will not only serve as a greenspace buffer between the residential areas of Tremont and industrial areas of the valley below.

Crews broke ground on Stage 3 in April 2017 and celebrated its completion with a virtual ribbon cutting yesterday, Monday, Sept. 13.

“This is happening because of partnership and perseverance,” says Sean McDermott, chief planning and design officer for the Cleveland Metroparks. “A lot of work goes into these kinds of things.

The extension is a joint effort between the Metroparks, Canalway Partners, the City of Cleveland, and Cuyahoga County, with “major funder and backer” NOACA.

Stage 3 not only provides a multimodal transportation corridor, but also provides new recreational opportunities in underutilized portions of the Cuyahoga River Valley.

This stretch offers views of downtown Cleveland’s skyline from 30-foot-high grassy mounds adjacent to the trail and unique landscaping. The trail also features a unique interpretive space at a promontory above Literary Avenue in Tremont, thanks to a partnership with the Midwest Railway Preservation Society and a grant from Rails-to-Trails Conservancy and the Coca-Cola Foundation.

At Literary and University Roads, interactive node with railroad themed artifacts pull from the local history of a former 19th century roundhouse in the Cuyahoga Valley.

“Most people gravitate to the mounds,” says McDermott of the Stage 3 features. “And the mounds are certainly [nice], but to me, the Literary Road Overlook ties the railroad history with the modern history of the trail—with panoramic views of downtown Cleveland.”

If all continues according to plan, the Extension will be complete next summer with Stage 4—Canal Basin Park.

McDermott says some work was done on the park and Stage 4 in 2016, but now it’s time to expand the park and bring the entire decades-long Towpath Trail Extension project to a close.

“We’re very close to getting this done,” says McDermott. “With Stage 3 complete and open for public use, we can now concentrate on Stage 4.”

Karin Connelly Rice
Karin Connelly Rice

About the Author: Karin Connelly Rice

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 20 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.