Cuyahoga County Planning Commission
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Towpath Trail & Greenway Extension

Towpath Trail Extension









Alignment & Design Study

Project Background and Significance

The Towpath Trail has become a defining feature in the Cuyahoga Valley landscape. Constructed in the 1820s as part of the Ohio & Erie Canal, it was a simple dirt path on which to lead animals pulling canal boats. When the economically unprofitable canal finally ceased to be used after the 1913 flood, the towpath survived as a silent witness to an earlier era.

The rediscovery of the towpath began with the establishment of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park in 1974. One of the major projects completed by the National Park Service was the conversion of approximately 20 miles of the towpath into a shared use trail. The success of this segment of towpath has sparked a campaign to extend the Towpath Trail to over 100 miles as a continuous journey through the federally designated Ohio & Erie Canalway National Heritage Area. In addition, the trail will serve as the northeast Ohio section of the Ohio to Erie Trail (Cincinnati to Columbus to Cleveland), now in progress.

Cleveland Metroparks completed additional segments of the Towpath Trail in its Ohio & Erie Canal Reservation, situated immediately north of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The northern terminus of the Towpath Trail is now at old Harvard Avenue, just east of Jennings Road.

Towpath Trail Extension

The current project will complete the Towpath Trail in Cuyahoga County by creating about six miles of trail and greenway from old Harvard Avenue to the proposed Canal Basin Park at downtown Cleveland, under the Detroit-Superior Bridge.

In 2002, the Cuyahoga County Planning Commission completed the Alignment & Design Study. This project produced a detailed preferred alignment for an off-road route and neighborhood connectors, as well as a suggested design vocabulary for the project. Trailhead and interpretive opportunities were also refined. The project also included an environmental regeneration plan for the surrounding landscape, such as ecological restoration of hillsides, soil enhancements, improvements to drainage patterns, constructed and enhanced wetland pockets, and creation or restoration of riparian buffers and natural edges along the river channel.

In October 2004, nine agencies and organizations signed a Memorandum of Understanding concerning the roles and responsibilities for completion of the Towpath Trail. The members of the Towpath Trail Partnership Committee are the Cuyahoga County Executive, City of Cleveland, Cleveland Metroparks, Cuyahoga County Department of Public Works, Cuyahoga County Planning Commission, National Park Service, Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency, Ohio Canal Corridor, and the Ohio Department of Transportation. The Management Committee consists of the County Executive, City of Cleveland, Cleveland Metroparks, and Ohio Canal Corridor.

Engineering, design, and construction are being administered by the Cuyahoga County Department of Public Works. Once built, Cleveland Metroparks will handle day-to-day maintenance, interpretation, and security. Generally, the City of Cleveland will own the land under the trail.

Stage 1 is the three-quarter mile section from old Harvard Road to the south entrance of the Steelyard Commons shopping center. A consulting team led by DLZ Ohio is currently working on engineering and design. Studies by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers identified environmental concerns north of Harvard Avenue. A new trail route has been identified. In the meantime, a temporary route has been created on Harvard Avenue and Jennings Road, connecting to Steelyard Commons.
For more information, visit the Stage 1 website.

Stage 2 is the one-mile section that is part of Steelyard Commons. This segment opened in early 2007 and provides a direct connection to the Tremont neighborhood of Cleveland at West 14th Street. The trail, including two underpasses, was fully paid by First Interstate Properties. First Interstate also built a wide sidewalk, giving users two riding options.

Stage 3 is the section from the north entrance of Steelyard Commons to Literary Road (north of the I-490 bridge). The Michael Baker Corp. is leading the consulting team. The work will be coordinated with the City of Cleveland's improvements to Clark Field, a major park and outdoor organized sports facility.
For more information, visit the Stage 3 website.

The final section of trail (Stage 4) will bring the project to Canal Basin Park, a new 18-acre urban park to be created at the northern terminus of the Ohio & Erie Canal. When constructed in the late 1820s, the canal originally included a large basin for the loading and unloading of canal boats, situated in the Flats where the canal connected to the Cuyahoga River (just south of Settler's Landing Park, in the vicinity of the Detroit-Superior Bridge). The Michael Baker Corp. was selected to lead the design of Stage 4.

From Canal Basin Park, it is anticipated that connector trails will provide access to Lake Erie and across Cleveland's lakefront.

Please check updates for updated information about the project and construction status, and maps for a current project map.


Please feel free to email us with your comments and questions.


Rick Sicha, Principal Planner
Cuyahoga County Planning Commission