Ohio & Erie Canal: The Tremont Trail

I hate all the road construction on I-90 in Cleveland.

tre3_smallBut if you are an urban hiker and biker like me, there is a pleasant surprise waiting for you near the Abbey Road exit.

After decades of planning and blazing the 101-mile path from New Philadelphia to Cleveland, the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail is coming together piece by piece. Soon, we will see the final section of the Towpath Trail along the Cuyahoga River in downtown Cleveland reach the end of its long journey home.

This has not been an easy task, but matching grants have made it all possible. With every $3 of private, local and state money raised, the feds have kicked in $1 worth of funding.

So it was exciting to see this as I returned from a meeting in downtown Cleveland last week. I snaked my way along the stretch of detour near Ohio City and was happy to see the beautiful sign heralding my arrival. Planted right in the heart of the construction barricades across from the sign, is the beautiful concrete pathway that leads to the final leg of the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail.

tre2_smallI hiked this exact spot in the spring of last year, but it was a challenge to navigate with all the cars exiting the freeway. This sign and pathway is my new reality, showing how Cleveland is one step closer to the hike-and-bike destination we keep talking about.

On Saturday, I led a group of friends on a bike ride to Greek Fest over in Tremont during Memorial Day weekend. We navigated our way along Steelyard Commons in Old Brooklyn to Annunciation Church. I described how each section of our ride would eventually link up beside the Cuyahoga River, then onto Lake Erie. It was a warm, sunny day.

To friends who live outside the city, it was a different kind of ride. We traveled past old steel mills, dodged the occasional pothole, and towered along the I-490 pedestrian bridge. It was nice to hear them re-live their adventure to others, as if they had accomplished a mini milestone.

I knew they were happy for the experience.

Cleveland, we are so ready for the next piece and parcel of the trail, so bring it on home!