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Independence to Akron

2 days/2 nights (Cuyahoga Valley National Park)

This is an ideal hike for locals who are looking for a “staycation” that involves the outdoors and physical exercise. It is also perfect for out-of-town visitors. Hop on a free shuttle from Cleveland Hopkins airport to the Holiday Inn in Independence. We recommend staying there for the night before starting the hike. In the morning, ask the concierge for a hotel shuttle (this is based on availability) for a ride to the trailhead. Alternatively, there is a 1.5 mi walk on sidewalks connecting directly to the towpath that is your entrance to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Day 1. Independence to Peninsula

Start this hike at the northern most portion of the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. From this point, you will be walking in a southerly direction along the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath. Today’s hike consists of five stages – a total of 13 miles.

Lock 39 Trailhead to Frazee House Trailhead (3.75 miles)

Frazee House Trailhead to Station Road Bridge Trailhead (2.5 miles)*

Station Road Bridge Trailhead to Red Lock Trailhead (2.5miles)

Red Lock Trailhead to Boston Store Visitor Center (1.75 miles)

Boston Store Visitor Center to Lock 29 Trailhead (2.5 miles) in Peninsula where you will stay overnight

*We highly recommend you take a break when you get to the Station Bridge Trailhead. Take the time to meet locals, rest and recharge at Dante’s County Line Saloon. Cross over the river along the pedestrian bridge (you are heading in a westerly direction), walk slightly to the left (around the train station) and on to Riverview Road. Make a right, walk up a short hill (heading north) and when you get to Chippewa Road, you will see the Dante's County Line Saloon. This is an ideal place to get a bite to eat and have a refreshing drink. (Mondays it is closed for lunch.) After your meal, consider a short siesta under a shady tree.

After your meal or siesta, head back to the Ohio Towpath – you have 6.75 miles to walk before you reach the village of Peninsula. You will pass through Boston Mills. Here you can stop for an ice cream or visit an art gallery at the renovated MD Garage. Alternatively, sit in an Adirondack chair and enjoy the scenery in this a quaint village, or visit the Trail Mix store run by the Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

The stage from Boston Mills to Peninsula is beautiful. You cross under two towering freeways, through meadows and past “Stumpy Basin” with its extensive wooden boardwalk. If you leave Independence at 9AM, you should get to Peninsula by about 3 or 4 PM (depending on your stops at the Dante's County Line Saloon and Boston Mills). For those not up to walking 13 miles in a day, we should point out that you could “cheat a little” and hop on a train from Brecksville to either Boston Mills or Peninsula. However, you will be surprised by your ability to walk 13 miles if you simply relax and enjoy the surroundings as you walk along the Towpath. In Peninsula, you will make your way to the Silver Fern Bed and Breakfast. Relax before heading out for dinner at one of the local restaurants.

Day 2. Peninsula to Akron

After a well-earned night’s sleep, you will awaken to a sumptuous breakfast at the Silver Fern. We recommend eating at about 8 AM. This will give you enough time to eat, place your bags in the hallway for ExploreAFoot to collect, and be on the road by 9 AM. Gary (the innkeeper) can prepare a packed lunch for you, or alternatively you should purchase lunch in the Akron’s Merriman Valley. There are no obvious restaurant spots along the trail until this point, so snacks and liquids are very important to keep your energy and hydration levels up.

Today’s hike consists of 3 stages – a total of 13.3 mi.

Peninsula to the Hunt House (3.3 mi)

Hunt House to Merriman Valley (5.9 mi)

Merriman Valley to Mustill Store trailhead, Akron (4.1 mi)

Begin by walking a short distance from the Silver Fern towards the center of Peninsula, and meet up with the Towpath. Don’t cross over the bridge – your path is to the right, just before you get to the bridge. The overall walk from Peninsula to Akron along the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath is straightforward and follows the path of the canal. As you reach the Merriman Valley, a couple miles south of Botzum, Ohio, you are in for a treat. There are a number of restaurants just steps from the trail, including the Pub Bricco, The Merchant Tavern and Saffron Patch at Akron.

After you have eaten, you are on the final leg on your journey to the Rubber City. The only potential hiccup is that when you get close to Akron (in the Cascade Park area). There is a detour due to huge construction of an underground water management system. This civil engineering project is likely to take a few years to complete – which means the detour will be in place for a while! However, it is very clearly signposted, and the detour adds a minimal amount to the distance you will walk on Day 2.

When you arrive in Akron, you will either be staying at the Courtyard Akron Downtown Hotel, or the recently renovated Cascade Lofts. Both are extremely close to the Towpath. Two restaurants that are recommended are the famous “Luigi’s” Restaurant (where the pizzas are highly sought after), or DBA (Dante Boccuzzi Akron, for an upscale meal). Please be sure to walk around the art stores in the vicinity of Luigi’s and the Marriott! Within a very short distance, there is the acclaimed BLU-Jazz establishment. If you happen to be there on the first Wednesday of the month, there are usually free appetizers and short presentations from entrepreneurs in the Akron region!

Travel back to Independence using the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad or perhaps you would prefer to request an Uber driver to take you back to your car.