Towpath Trail Review

I biked it about a week and a half ago, from Cleveland (about mile marker 5) to Peninsula (about mile marker 24 or 25) and back. My overall impression is that the Towpath a nice resource for recreational purposes, but it's difficult to imagine it evolving into a solid network that bike commuters can realistically use to get around.

(from flickr user jacobgutierrezflores)

The ride itself, along the trail, is very nice; but there are a few things that I thought could be better.

First, it's very challenging to get in and out of the Cuyahoga Valley. This is problematic because there really isn't much down in the valley, and many people come from an area of a significantly higher elevation. I think the elevation change is about 500 feet from the Towpath to many of the surrounding areas. And while this isn't necessarily the most ridiculous hill in the world, it is very challenging for those who aren't in the best of shape (considering I rode over 50 miles on the trip, I like to think I'm in decent shape, but the hill was by far the hardest part).

Second, riding on unpaved paths gets old after a while. I'm not much of a mountain biker, I like riding smooth surfaces like city streets. The northernmost part of the Towpath, from Cleveland south to Valley View (about mile marker 14 or 15) is nicely paved with asphalt. The rest of the trail that I rode, from Valley View to Peninsula, was a gravel-type surface that was noticeably more challenging to pedal across, and occasionally kicked up pieces of dirt and small rocks (I didn't have fenders on for the ride).

There has been a lot of talking about finishing the Towpath and extending the trail into downtown Cleveland. I'm all for it. I just wish the trail was a more realistic option for bicycle commuters; perhaps along the lines as the Lakefront Trail in Chicago, which is utilized by both commuters and recreational users alike and has become on of the city's most valuable assets.


    On November 18, 2009 austin said...

    I think the issue is the purpose of the trail. Think of it as a scenic route and a gym, not as an expressway.