Ohio and Lake Erie Canalway
Nature, Recreation, and Amish Country
|Mileage||101 miles (163 km)|
|DurationThe duration is an estimate of a one-way drive and does not include any stops or side-trips.||3 hours, 16 minutes|
|SeasonsThe seasons listed are the best seasons for this scenic drive. If Winter is not mentioned, the road may be closed during the winter.||All Seasons|
|Roadways||Ohio Highways 14, 249, 39, 416, and 800Front Street, US Highway 250, Canal Road, Center Road, Cross Street, Independence Road, Main Street, Market Street, Memorial Parkway, Merriman Road, Park Ave, Riverview Road, Towpath Court, Tremont Avenue, and Wooster Road W|
|ServicesThe cities or towns listed have either Food or Services such as gas, pharmacies, etc.||Brooklyn, OH▼, Cleveland, OH▼, Lakewood, OH▼, Independence, OH▼, Solon, OH▼, Hudson, OH▼, Zoar, OH▼, and New Philadelphia, OH▼|
4.0 average from 25 votes
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Designated a National Heritage Area, traveling along the Ohio and Erie Canalway reveals its history as a vital link to the growth of Ohio and the development of the nation. Built in the 1820’s and 1830’s, the 308-mile waterway connected Lake Erie to the Ohio River, creating an important national transportation system. The drive is a blend of big city dynamism and charming communities, with many opportunities to get out and explore. Walk or bike along the 100-mile Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath, enjoy a myriad of state parks, Cuyahoga National Park, wineries, historic sites, and natural beauty.
The drive begins in Cleveland, heading south to New Philadelphia, but of course, can be driven in the opposite direction. A few days are recommended to fully enjoy all this region has to offer. Cleveland is a vibrant city with activities for every taste. Before beginning the drive, consider visiting some of its best attractions.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum (M3) features permanent and rotating exhibits, artifacts, memorabilia, videos and interactive technologies, that explore the music and artists that shaped the evolution of rock music. Afterwards, head to nearby Voinovich Bicentennial Park (H1) along Lake Erie, for picture-perfect views of the skyline, and to debate who really should have been inducted into the Hall of Fame — or not. Also located here is the Great Lakes Science Center (W1) with exhibits such as the NASA Glenn Visitor Center, the BioMedTech Gallery, hands-on activities and more that educate and fascinate kids of all ages.
An entire day can be spent in the University Circle District, relaxing amidst historic architecture, exploring Wade Park (H2), the Cleveland Botanical Garden (A1) and visiting the many cultural institutions. The Cleveland Museum of Art (M1) boasts a stunning collection of art that spans 5,000 years. Highlights include works by Gauguin, Picasso, Monet and Turner. Entrance is to the museum is free, closed Mondays. Not-to-be-missed is the Cleveland Orchestra at Severance Hall (A3). Opened in 1931, Severance Hall is considered one of the world’s most beautiful concert halls, making it the ideal backdrop to listen to one of the world’s top orchestras. The Cleveland Museum of Natural History (M2) astounds with fascinating science and nature dioramas, displays and interactive exhibits. Learn about prehistoric life, see a real moon rock, ogle a bevy of gems and jewels, and trace our human origins by visiting Lucy, one of our 3.2-million-year-old ancestors. Part of the museum collection is a rare edition of Birds of America by John James Audubon, which is on display at the Harold T. Clark Library. Hungry? Head to Little Italy across Euclid Avenue or downtown to the West Side Market (A4), the country’s oldest and largest indoor/outdoor markets. Established in 1912 and listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, indulge in a dizzying array of fresh produce, sweets, treats, ready-to eat delectable ethnic fare, fresh produce, meat, seafood, and so much more.
Leaving Cleveland, head south on US-422 to OH-14, then Canal Road, where the byway follows the Ohio and Erie Canal. In the 1800s, mules were used to pull boats through the canal.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park (H4) is free to enter and captivates with 33,000 acres of diverse habitat, recreation opportunities, and history. Stop at the Canal Exploration Center (A5) near Lock 38 for regional and historic information. Interactive exhibits take you back in time through the eyes of the people who built, worked, and lived along the canal. The popular 100-mile Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail (H3) for walking, jogging, biking, and in some areas, horseback riding, runs through the center of the park, connecting the many historic sites, other nature trails, and communities. Biking is a great way cover a lot of distance while exploring, and rentals are available from local outfitters. If you’re not up for the return trip, simply Bike Aboard! on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad (A8). Climb aboard one of 8 stations along the route to take you and your bike back for a small fee. The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad travels from Cleveland to Akron on vintage rail cars and also offers sightseeing excursions, all-day hop on/hop off passenger passes, and special events.
A few miles east in Bedford, is Viaduct Park. Take the short Viaduct Park (H11) Loop Trail to the Great Falls of Tinkers Creek. Interpretive panels examine the history of the area. There are a few viewpoints to observe the mesmerizing falls, as well as Tinkers Creek Gorge, remnants of old mills, picnic areas and golf course. You’ll also find a 9.7-mile section of the 1,444-mile Buckeye Trail (H12) that circumnavigates the state of Ohio.
Stop at the Boston Store Visitor Center (I3) for hiking information, ranger-led tours, and exhibits and films on the parks history. One of the most popular attractions in the park is the 65-foot high Brandywine Falls (A6). The enchanting waterfall cascades like a veil down a stepped rock wall. Surrounded by lush forest, wooden walkways and observation decks offer different vantage points for viewing and photos. Hike there via the Stanford or Brandywine Gorge trails which leave from the visitor center, or drive to the Brandywine Falls parking lot.
From here, consider a detour to Tinker’s Creek State Park (H5) one of the highest points in the state and near the watershed divide in Ohio. The lake is a draw for anglers, fishing for bass, bluegill, perch and catfish. Much of the park is swamp and marsh, making this an interesting birding site. Adjacent, lies the Tinkers Creek State Nature Preserve (A9) home to a wide range of flora and fauna. There is no admission or parking fee for Ohio State Parks.
Continuing further east on OH-82, leads to Nelson-Kennedy Ledges State Park (H9). Revel in a landscape of rugged sandstone cliffs and rock formations, where trees cling to rock faces, water cascades, and moss and ferns create a lush green carpet. Trails such as Fat Man’s Peril, the Squeeze, and Devil’s Ice Box, offer easy and challenging routes to explore the rocks, caves and crevices.
The byway continues on Riverview Road/OH-9 South to Peninsula, where the quaint downtown retains its 19th-century charm. Farms dot the landscape and roadside stands offer a bounty of seasonal produce. Some farms are open for tours and special events. Stop in the Peninsula Depot Visitor Center (I1) near Lock 29 for more information.
At the Virginia Kendall Lake Unit (W2), enjoy hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails, fishing, or just a relaxing picnic. Take the Ledges Trailhead which passes impressive rock formations known as the Ritchie Ledges, remnants of the glacier-carved geologic legacy of the region. In June, Monarch butterflies lay their eggs here on the abundant milkweed. In mid-September the park is a flutter with peak migration of adult monarchs. This area is popular in winter with cross-country and downhill skiing, snow tubing, snow-shoeing and ice fishing.
Hale Farm and Village (A15) is an outdoor living history museum and working farm depicting 19th-century life. Explore barns with sheep and oxen, historic architecture, heritage gardens, and enjoy demonstrations of cooking, crafts, and trades such as pottery, blacksmithing, glassblowing, weaving by knowledgeable costumed interpreters and re-enactors. There is an admission fee.
The byway continues to Beaver Marsh (A7), a National Audubon Society designated Important Bird Area. A boardwalk trail takes you to upper and lower platforms where you can observe 240 bird species, among them, wood ducks, bald eagles, peregrine falcons, and great blue herons, as well as painted turtles and beaver.
Hunt Farm Visitor Center (I2) near Lock 27, offers information and special events.
The byway leaves Cuyahoga National Park towards Akron. The downtown Akron outdoor stage near Lock 3 on the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath hosts many summer concerts and events. You will also find many nearby restaurants, cafes, shops, and other services.
Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens (H6) is Akron’s first National Historic Landmark. Built between 1912-1915 for the Seiberling Family, founder of the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, the focal point of the sprawling estate is the 64,500 square foot Tudor Revival style Manor House. Peruse distinctive details such as hand-carved oak, sandalwood, and black walnut paneling, 23 fireplaces, opulent furnishings, and art. Stroll the grounds and visit the Corbin Conservatory, the Gate lodge, the Carriage House, and an extraordinary 70-acres of landscaped grounds and formal gardens. There is a fee to enter.
Embark on a journey around the world at the Akron Zoo (A10) home to over 700 hundred animals such as the African lion, the pygmy slow loris from Asia, Sumatran tiger, ring-tailed lemur from Madagascar and so many more. There is an admission fee.
Summit Lake Park (W3) is the highest point along the Ohio and Erie Canal. Once a popular amusement park with rides and attractions, it now has a reputation of being haunted.
Wingfoot Lake State Park (H8) is named for the Goodyear logo. The land was originally owned by the Goodyear Company which was founded in Akron in 1898 to manufacture bicycle and carriage tires. Enjoy a day by the lake, swimming and boating (rentals onsite). Families will love the variety of activities: baseball fields, volleyball, bocci ball, horse shoes, mini golf, disc golf, playground, a dog park, and picnic shelters that available for rent. The docking station for the Goodyear Blimp is nearby, but not open to the public.
At Quail Hollow State Park (H10) explore eight distinct habitats along nature trails with interpretive signage, participate in educational programs, and enjoy a range of recreational activities and primitive camping. The town of Quail Hollow region has a large Mennonite population and features craft and antique shops, as well as several golf courses.
Boasting eight lakes, the 411-acre Portage Lake State Park (H7) is yet another gem, offering a full range of all-season recreation opportunities. There is a campground for RV’s and tents.
The MAPS Air Museum (M4) displays the history of military aviation, background stories on the heroes who flew the planes, artifacts and a wide variety of fighter, bomber, trainer and liaison aircraft. There is an entrance fee.
Explore Jackson Bog Nature Preserve (A11) along the 1.25-mile boardwalk trail. Interpretive signage teaches about this unique habitat.
Football fans will want to make a pilgrimage to the PRO Football Hall of Fame (A13). Celebrate the history of football, from Hall of Fame Gallery to Pro Football Today. Artifacts from legendary quarterback Jim Plunkett, a Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl XLVIII ring, jerseys, cleats, are just a few of many on display.
Northeastern Ohio is wine country. In Canton and Dover, vineyards are open for tours and tasting. Take Ohio’s Heartland Wine, Cheese and Chocolate Trail (A14) to discover the bounty of six counties.
Canton is home to the McKinley National Memorial and the William McKinley Presidential Library and Museum which celebrates the 25th President of the United States. Learn about his life and times through artifacts, furniture, photos and personal effects. Also located here is the Stark County Story, chronicling 200 years of regional history, Discover World, a natural history and science museum and Hoover Price Planetarium.
The Canton Classic Car Museum (M5) features 40 rare and unusual classic cars and a quirky collection of vintage toys, advertising, memorabilia and items related to Canton’s history. There is a fee to enter.
This byway continues through the picturesque hills of Ohio’s Amish Country. Explore the back country roads, visit an Amish farm and be sure to admire and indulge in quality fine cheese, chocolates, fresh produce, as well as handcrafted quilts, furniture, crafts, and metalwork. The J.M. Smucker Co. Store (A12) features a museum about the well-known jam company that began in Ohio, as well as a cafe.
In Dover, visit the Warther Museum (M7) to discover exquisitely-detailed carvings of steam engines by Ernest (Mooney) Warther. Tour the original family home, furnishings and button art by his wife Frieda. Don't miss the Kitchen Cutlery Shop to observe the hand-crafting of kitchen knives using the same techniques developed by Mooney Warther. Knives are available for purchase. There is an entrance fee which includes guided tour, free for kids 6 and under.
The drive officially ends in New Philadelphia where you’ll find many historic buildings and Schoenbrunn Village (A16) a reconstructed Moravian Mission built in 1772, with 17 log buildings and costumed re-enactors demonstrating cooking, weaving, medical care, and musket firings.