Go exploring: Canalway Partners invites you to discover the Towpath Trail by bicycle

Canalway Partners wants Clevelanders to discover all the natural beauty and wonder of the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail.


So this year the organization decided to host its annual Cycle Canalway event along the Cuyahoga County section of the trail—from Tremont through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park on the Summit County border, and everywhere in between.


“Cycle Canalway is intended to introduce people to the Towpath,” explains Canalway Partners executive director Mera Cardenas. “As we celebrate sections being completed, Cycle Canalway keeps you on the Towpath to see what’s new.”


Stage 3 of the Towpath Trail Extension project in Tremont was just completed this week.


The monthlong event started on Thursday, Sept. 3, and runs the entire month. Each week participants are given new self-guided, mapped rides to explore the history, industry, and nature of the Towpath.


Blossom the Mule Sculpture at the Canal Exploration CenterWeekly tour rides are designed for three skill levels: Joyrides, 3- to 9-mile rides that are family-friendly or for beginners; Jaunt Rides, 16- to 21-mile rides for regular cyclists; and Journey Rides, 26- to 34-mile rides for experienced cyclists looking for a challenge.


“Joyrides are stop-and-smell-the-flowers kind of rides,” says Cardenas. “While the Journey rides are long-distance rides.”


Cardenas says the four-weeks of tours give riders a chance to really get out and experience the Towpath—perhaps taking a selfie at one of the many sculptures along the trails, soaking in the mix of the region’s industrial history and natural wonders, or just exploring new areas.


“The Towpath goes through a lot of once-industrial areas that are now natural and it makes you think about how nature can heal,” Cardenas observes. “It connects people to their inner curiosity, too.”


Prize packages, some valued at more than $300, are awarded each of the four weeks. All participants have to do is share photos on the trail and using #CycleCanalway (and make sure your post is public) to be automatically entered in the prize drawing.


Prizes are announced on Wednesdays and posted on Canalway Partners’ website, Facebook, and Twitter pages.


This past week’s prize (awarded yesterday), was a Cuyahoga Valley Adventure pack that included an REI unisex backpack; two Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Towpath Trail T-shirts from Cleveland Clothing Company; two coach tickets on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad; a Boom Nutrition variety pack, winter hat, and water bottle; $25 toward any bicycle at Century Cycles, as well as a pint glass, two hours of Towpath bike rentals, and the book “Masters of the Pave, a History of Strongmen;” and four Cycle Canalway bicycle bells.


The prize package this week is a Cleveland Adventure pack, and includes a framed print “All Star City” by Cleveland photographer Dan Morgan; a $90 gift card to Great Lakes Brewing Company, and public brewery tour for two and a Great Lakes bottle opener; a $25 gift certificate to Crust in Tremont; a $25 gift certificate to Flat Iron Café; a $20 gift card, T-shirt, and mug from Grumpy’s Café; 2020 season insider access to Take A Hike Walking Tours; a one-year subscription to Ohio Magazine; and four Cycle Canalway bike bells.

Participants must register by Tuesday, Sept. 22 to be eligible for the prize package. The winner will be named on Wednesday, Sept. 23.

While Cycle Canalway has already hit its halfway point, Cardenas says there is still plenty to enjoy on the Towpath, and many more prizes to come through Wednesday, Sept. 30.


As of last Friday, Sept. 11, Cardenas says more than 600 people had signed up to participate in Cycle Canalway. “We’re really pleased with the amount of people it resonated with,” she says, adding that the Cycle Canalway event is a great way to get out and find new parts of the 100-mile trail to explore.


“We humans are creatures of habit,” she says. “There might be people who are on the Towpath every day, but not on the same section every day. This is a great way to see how extensive the Towpath is and explore other sections of it.”

Read more articles by 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.