Locked In


After yesterday’s rain — ALL day — I greeted the parting of the clouds this morning with enthusiasm. I had plans to spend the morning hiking around the Cuyahoga Valley (again), and I wanted nothing to spoil it.

Since I had one more section of the Towpath within the national park boundary to hike, I started there. I drove to the same trailhead where I started last week’s hike, at the Canal Exploration Center and its working lock, and this week I headed north.

The rush hour traffic on Canal Road ran as thick as last week, but with the Cuyahoga River so close at hand on the opposite side of the Towpath, I had plenty of peaceful views to draw my attention and help block my awareness of the traffic. I glimpsed the old iron Hillside Road bridge when I looked back upstream, and I watched for herons and kingfishers as the river curved and rippled its way downstream.


This section of the Towpath held a few historical points of interest. The wide fields between river and canal had hosted (at different points in time) a local native farming tribe and a small Moravian settlement. One wetland area off the canal had served as a dry dock area and canal repair station until the early 20th century. And near the trailhead marking the farthest point of my journey, Lock 39 gave me new insight into canal engineering with a partial gate and complete spillway still intact.


The Lock 39 trailhead marks the northernmost point of the Towpath within the Cuyahoga Valley National Park (the Cleveland Metroparks maintain it to the north of this trailhead), so by reaching that point in my hiking, I finally checked off my last major hiking goal for this fall. I can now claim that I have hiked the entire Towpath from Lock 39 to Botzum, a stretch of about 21 miles and thus about a quarter of the full Ohio and Eric Canal Towpath. I didn’t hike it all this year, of course, but I have finally covered the entire CVNP section of the trail.

So by the time I returned to the Canal Exploration Center and my car, not only was the sun shining through the clouds, but I, too, was beaming! I did it!


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