Captivating Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio

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Biking the Towpath

6.13.10 Kindley Lake SP to Cuyahoga Valley NP, Ohio

 

Terrific Day!

 

Last night, a boomer of a thunderstorm had most of us snuggling in the big bed.  The lightening flashes were impressive.

 

In the morning, Ciao moved to a less flooded area to load the bikes - our tent neighbors changed sites for drier ground and I felt a bit sorry for them.  But all RV’ers started out in a tent and then we camped when it rained.  Then we switched next to a pop-up camper and packed it up at least once in the rain.  And then we got the invincible RV!

 

Back roads to Cuyahoga Valley National Park were delightful.

Ranger Jordan at Canal Visitor Center
  The area looks very beautiful with historic, well-kept houses and blooming perennials.  We saw a rich agriculture society with no signs of the recession, but no conspicuous consumption either.  Just pleasant, well-loved small towns.

 

Cuyahoga National Park is fantastic!  Did you know there is a National Park in northern Ohio?  It was newly designated in 2000 as a NP.  Do look it up, but in a nutshell, it is along the Ohio and Erie Canal (between Akron and Cleveland), about 30 miles long, and runs along the Cuyahoga River.  The canal was hand-dug so that boats could run goods through Ohio’s interior. 

 

Mules pulled the boats upriver and about 150 locks raise and lower the boats through the canal.

Canal Visitor Center
  However, by 1875 the railroad came into full use and the canal fell into decline.  But they later made the towpath (where the mules pulled the boats) into a delightful bike path.

 

So here’s what you do… you pick out a visitor’s center along the route from the internet and get the GPS coordinates so you can find it.  There are about 5 Visitor’s Centers here.  Then you park at the Visitor’s Center, unload your bikes and after watching the informative movie and appreciating the canal locks demonstration and the museum about life on the river, you bike down the delightful path. 

 

Then, after stopping at each small town along the way, and the waterfalls, and the ice cream shops, and chatting with the nice townspeople, and eating dinner in the family restaurants alfresco in the afternoon sun, you wave down the train.

 

Wave down the train?  Yes, there’s a historic scenic railroad that parallels the canal.

Canal Locks demonstration at Canal Visitor Center
  You get the schedule from the Visitor’s Center.  Then, when you see the train pull into the station, you “wave both arms overhead.”  Really!  These are the instructions.  Now, apparently, it doesn’t matter if you wave both arms parallel overhead or if you cross them overhead.  As long as the engineer sees you, she’ll stop the train.  Helpers load your bikes for you and you pay $2 a person to take the train back to the parking lot.  It's called, "Bike the trails, Ride the rails."  We know because we got the t-shirt.  :)

 

On the 25 minute train ride, an authentic Ticketmaster is aboard, refreshments can be purchased, and there’s an eagle’s nest and great herons’ nests that they point out and describe in detail as we pass by with cameras ready.  It is GREAT fun.

 

Since the park is open 24 hours a day so you can enjoy it in the evening, the Rangers at the Canal Visitor’s Center said it was fine if we park overnight after biking all day.

Helpful bike loaders on scenic train
  While we found the people in Ohio somewhat standoffish initially, they were every one very kind upon talking with them.  We met some extremely delightful people today.

 

Let me give an example:  We were just back from biking, putting bikes away when a young man talked to Lia about our Texas tags.  He lives nearby and came with his friends to fish for catfish in the river.  We chatted for awhile and he wondered why someone would purposely come to Ohio.  (like we all feel that way about the place we’ve lived all our lives.) 

 

Anyway, we ended up showing Brandon, Darren, and Matt the inside of Ciao Baby and had a great talk.  A few minutes after they left to prep for fishing, they returned with fresh strawberries that Darren had picked this morning on his farm.

Darren, Matt, and Brandon (L to R)
  And they were so delicious!  Wasn’t that so nice?  We had to decline the kind offer to pick strawberries tomorrow since we’ve reservations at Letchworth SP in NY, but his kindness just made our night.

 

I nearly hyperventilated on the huge gulps of clean, sweet air along the river.  How do people breathe around here?  My lungs would burst from intaking such full breaths of clean air. Ahhhh…

 

So I’m looking out the back of Ciao at a meadow filled with yellow wildflowers, alfalfa, and cattails.  Trees are lush on the edge of the meadow. The temperature today was perfect.  Jazy put on a sweater, but I think it was about 77 degrees. 

 

It does snow significantly up here and when the canal freezes, they cross-country ski on it.

Meadow behind Ciao at the Canal Visitor Center tonight
  What a treasured resource this beautiful area is!  I’m so happy it is protected in a national park. 

 

I have to admit that I’ve been very impressed with Ohio’s beauty outside of Cincinnati.  What a lovely state!

 

 

 

 

macdavid says:
Did you guys make it to Letchworth SP?
Posted on: Jun 15, 2010
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Biking the Towpath
Biking the Towpath
Ranger Jordan at Canal Visitor Cen…
Ranger Jordan at Canal Visitor Ce…
Canal Visitor Center
Canal Visitor Center
Canal Locks demonstration at Canal…
Canal Locks demonstration at Cana…
Helpful bike loaders on scenic tra…
Helpful bike loaders on scenic tr…
Darren, Matt, and Brandon (L to R)
Darren, Matt, and Brandon (L to R)
Meadow behind Ciao at the Canal Vi…
Meadow behind Ciao at the Canal V…
Strawberries- gift from Brandon
Strawberries- gift from Brandon
Biking the Towpath
Biking the Towpath
Biking the Towpath
Biking the Towpath
Train Conductor
Train Conductor
Boston township
Boston township
Helpful David in Boston township
Helpful David in Boston township
Large eagles nest among smaller h…
Large eagle's nest among smaller …
Komal in Boston township
Komal in Boston township
Biking the towpath
Biking the towpath
Train Depot visitor Center in Penn…
Train Depot visitor Center in Pen…
Ranger Larry in Train Depot visito…
Ranger Larry in Train Depot visit…
Train depot in Boston township
Train depot in Boston township
Helpful refreshments/t-shirts/tick…
Helpful refreshments/t-shirts/tic…
Valley View
photo by: TessaHill