Following the abandonment of my 2011 bike tour across Ohio and Pennsylvania, I stayed with my friend Peter near Akron and did day rides. The first was on the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath, north of the town of Clinton. And the ride set the tone of the rest of my vacation – warm, sunny weather, good trail conditions, and something to see every mile.
And that started in the first mile. The O and E towpath trail, unlike others I’ve ridden, has been reconstructed and planned for the visitor, not for a canal horse. In other words, there are overlooks and plantings and boardwalks and many other signs of thought for the cyclist, hiker, and walker. The trail surface varied from pavement to fine gravel to something a bit coarser, but overall the conditions were very groomed.
I passed through the historic town of Clinton, where I purchased fluid and took photos. I was particularly struck by the drive-through store selling beer and other drinks. I’ve never seen a drive through store in PA, and especially not one selling alcoholic beverages. (Pennsylvania has very strict and odd rules about the selling of beer and other drinks. But that’s a discussion for another time….)
Then I rode down the gravel path to Canal Fulton. I rushed to make the last ride of the day for the canal boat, and just made it. The visitors center held my bike for me while I spent an hour going up and down the canal four miles round trip. It was a warm day, and I felt sorry for Dan and Prince, the ‘motor’ of the boat. I hope they both got hosed down and some nice oats afterward.
The towpath surface became rougher as I went on. The rains this spring caused some washouts, and the trail surface had a messy ‘patch’ job. After riding further down the towpath I crossed the river and road and took the parallel Old Muskingum Trail into Crystal Springs hoping for better conditions. My new choice wasn’t much better than the old as far as the surface went. However, it was more dirt and less gravel, and the dry weather left the ground hard and smooth.
I crossed the river back to the towpath on the High Bridge in Crystal Springs. This historic span is closed to motor vehicles, but remains open for access to the Old Muskingum Trail. A week later I’d be floating a canoe under it.
I stopped at seventeen miles and more than 100 photos for the day, at Bridgeport Quarry trailhead.