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Though not far from two of Ohio’s largest cities, Cleveland and Akron, the Bike and Hike Trail passes alongside beautiful natural areas, including the 65-foot Brandywine Falls, a stunning cascading waterfall. With its first section opening in 1972, the pathway was one of the first rail-trail conversions in the country. The 34-mile route follows the corridor of two former railway lines, the Lake Erie & Pittsburg Railway, which later became part of the New York Central Railroad, and the old Akron, Bedford & Cleveland Railroad (AB&C), often referred to as the Alphabet Railroad.
The Bike and Hike Trail is a rambling route peppered with bridge crossings and neighborhood roads in both rural and suburban settings. Unlike most rail-trails, which are fairly flat, this route has delightful dips and rises. Playgrounds and restroom facilities are ample, though you may want to stock up on drinking water and snacks before striking out for the day.
Starting at the northern end on Alexander Road, experience a beautiful, mostly secluded, multiuse, paved trail, much of which borders Cuyahoga Valley National Park. If you wish to explore the park, travel 1.6 miles west from the Alexander Road trailhead to reach the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail, which traverses the park and spans a whopping 81 miles.
As the trail winds south, it passes through rural neighborhoods and wooded areas. With an early enough start, you might see some deer grazing at the path’s edge. The trail’s southern loop has some on-road sections; look for the green trail signs to guide you along the route. In Munroe Falls, an observation deck on the Cuyahoga River offers lovely scenery, as well as an opportunity for fishing.
Once you complete the southern loop, you can finish the trail by heading back to the northern trailhead. If you still have energy to burn after the return trip north, complete your day’s adventure by exploring Cuyahoga Valley National Park. With miles of hiking trails, breathtaking views, and wildlife—ranging from bald eagles to coyotes—the national park is the perfect complement to the northeast Ohio nature that this rail-trail serves up.
To reach the northern trailhead on Alexander Road in Northfield: From I-271 N, take Exit 23. Turn left onto Broadway Ave., and in 0.1 mile turn left onto Oak Leaf Road. From I-271 S, take Exit 23 for OH 14 W. As you exit the interstate, you merge with Oak Leaf Road. In 1 mile turn right onto Alexander Road (a sign at the intersection indicates that this is toward Walton Hills). Drive 2.7 miles west on Alexander Road to the trailhead and parking lot.
To reach the southern trailhead in Munroe Falls: From I-76, take Exit 27 for OH 91N. Continue north 0.3 mile to OH 91 and turn right (north). Follow OH 91N for 5.3 miles (it becomes Main St. north of Tallmadge) to the parking lot and the trailhead, located on the right immediately after crossing the Cuyahoga River.
Additional parking waypoints are available; see the map for locations.
The Summit County portion of the trail is maintained well for skaters; Portage County, not so much—they don’t clean up the debris well and the tree root bumps are a pain. I’d recommend ALU wheels no smaller than 84mm in size in order to safely clear stones and sticks. The inclines at most of the road intersection are brutal not only due to their steepness but also because of the blind spots caused by curves. It’s the only Bike and Hike path where I actually wear protective gear. Freedom Trail (off 261 and Middlebury Rd) is ideal for skaters except for the absolutely terrible and frequent road intersections the further west you travel (from Kent).
Just completed the southern loop beginning at route 303 going south to Munroe Falls, through Silver Lake and back up. By the way, Munroe Falls is about 9.5 miles, so it is a nice place to stop almost halfway to watch the kayakers, have a snack, and take a bike picture. Overall, very enjoyable but one of the hardest 22-mile rides I have done due to all the starts and stops and ALL of the very many hills! Take lots of water and some high-protein munchies because you will need the energy. Not the route I would choose for a fixie unless I was in top shape - used my lowest gear to get up the hills. Some of the flatter parts look like they were once part of a rail system, so it was nice to cruise along those. There are some very busy streets as well; a bike lane and a better way to cross would be most welcome (hint, hint - please try to make these crossings safer for those of us on bikes). Country Maid on 303 was a must stop on the way home for some ice cream.
Without much research, we decided to try this trail. It was gorgeous! We started at parking lot by Rte. 303 and went north to end (about 10.5 miles. Had no idea what to expect but were very pleasantly surprised. There are a few hills and going in this direction, unfortunately puts the downhill slope on the first leg of the ride. About 4 miles into the ride we came up an amazing waterfall that has boardwalk steps and landings to get closer to the waterfall. Absolutely gorgeous. Nice scenery and well-maintained trail.
Would definitely do again and try the other direction.
I am a early 60's guy that has been riding a bicycle for 50 plus years ... and this is one of my favorite rides for a Sunday morning workout.
I have been riding this route for about 8 years ... it is scenic, rolling, not too busy and has easy access ... there is not a nicer trail ride in the area ....
I get on on Alexander in Walton Hills and head south that ends me up in Kent ... turn around and head back and get my 40 miles in ... takes me about 2.5 hours ... with a 10 minute break at the half way point ...
If you have not tried this route yet, please take my advice ... you will not be disappointed.
If you like bike trails and don't like public highways, this is not the trail for you! We started in Munroe Falls and really enjoyed the first 2 miles of hilly terrain. Then all of a sudden you come out on a street, ughhh, I hate riding on roads, even ones with a designated bikeway! This path, in the 10 miles we did, 5 had to be on highways, some so busy you had to go to an intersection and use the button to get across the road.This is way to busy for a bike trail for my wife and myself. Finally when we came out on anther main road with a bikeway on the side we decided to turn around. Arrrghhh, a wasted afternoon, Oh well on to the next trail!
My wife and I hit this trail most days starting at Alexander Road in Walton Hills. The trail is great, nicely paved, without any crazy hills. It goes by Brandywine Falls and the trail is clearly marked and easy to follow.
We did the southern loop recently starting in Boston Heights, down through Silver Lake and Monroe Falls, and I have to say it was pretty tough. I don't like going through neighborhoods or having to use bike lanes on some busy streets. The trail wasn't as clearly marked as it could have been and they closed one section about 3 miles past route 303 that caused us to have to navigate some very busy (and therefore dangerous) streets - and the detour was NOT marked, at all. We had to ask people to get back on the path, thank heavens we found a nice couple who pointed us in the right direction. Moving forward we'll stick to our regular route at Alexander road and turn around when we pass Route 303.
Overall, this is our go to trail - we have hybrid bikes and have no issues whatsoever because of the nicely paved surface.
I enter at Barlow Road in Hudson and can go 6.5 miles South to Hudson/Judson or about 12.5 Miles North to Alexander. This stretch is easy to follow and only broken up by crossing streets every few miles. The Summit County portion which is about 17 or so of the 19 or so miles is incredible. Most repaved completely in the last year to two years. It's great for biking because of long open stretches and not a lot of hikers especially in the mornings or evenings. There is really only one hill to speak of on the entire stretch of road and that's around the halfway point. This is just a great path to get out and cruise on without the high traffic and non-paved sections of something like the Towpath which I don't even feel is safe for biking.
Nice trail. Is NOT flat by any means! We rode the entire length of Summit County from Stowe to Walton Hills. There's a clue right there, hills. Trail passes through Sagamore Hills as well, another clue. Trail is definitely rolling!
Several parking areas to access the trail. Trail is paved and in good condition. Each intersection is clearly marked. Many friendly people on the trail.
Trail goes near some residential areas. Farther North you get more into the wooded area.
One area there are power lines, it's safe there.
Trail goes close to the perimeter of Cuyahoga National Park. Take time out to stop at Brandywine Falls. Also restrooms as the park. Wooden stairs easy access to the falls.
Restrooms at Route 303. One restaurant on the edge of the trail close to town, sells bottled water if that's all you need.
Near Brandywine Falls there is a resident that offers a self serve refreshment stand. I wished more people that live along trails would do this! Awesome idea. There is a bench there for seating and it was nice other cyclists stopped as well.
This trail has it's own website which can be found by searching for Summit Metro Parks Bike and Hike trail.
Note to Trish and Bill that we met along the trail: the trail from Fredericksburg to Kilbuck OH is called Holmes County trail in Millersburg.
Yep 44 miles tip to tail. I have never been on such a challenging trail. Lots of rolling hills especially near the southeastern neighborhoods. Scenic and well maintained. Criticism: road signs off trail are few and far between.
This is an excellent trail with lots to see. There are dips and rises for sure. We started at the Alexander Road parking lot in Walton Hills. There is an incline from Alexander Road down to the loop. The loop is very scenic. From Alrxander Road, we veered left at the Monroe falls split occurs. C
Excellent trail ride, has some roads, some neighborhoods and some wooded park lands.This trail features some really fun twists and turns as well as some small climbs with easy gliding descents. I often veer off the trail when entering the Village of Silverlake to see some scenic views of the picturesque lakefront homes. I also enjoy the area near Monroe Falls where cyclists wind their way through the hills and valleys past a golf course and along a riverfront before approaching gazebo for a rest stop. The Route is a loop and is excellent whether ridden either clockwise or counter clockwise. I would recommend this to any cyclists of all levels, I usually visit this trail at least once or twice a year.
Fairly new to biking, I rode this trail recently. I calculated it around 30 miles, which is no problem as I go 40 on the towpath. However, I wasn't prepared for the hills. I completed the route but it was a heck of a workout. I'm overweight and 48 years old, but still made it without killing myself.
I also wasn't prepared for the numerous routes through residential neighborhoods. I actually felt like I was trespassing. The signage was fair, but fortunately someone had painted white stripes on the road to follow. I hope whoever did it maintains them. They were a great help.
Now that I know what to expect, I would definitely ride this again for a good cardio workout. The towpath is great but can get boring and crowded. Explore a little and give this ride a try. You will feel real accomplishment when your done.
Excellent trail, easy to ride with a few challenges on the hills. Trail was in good shape and in use by people of all ages. I will be riding this trail again. Well marked and the streets we ride on are not all that busy.
Connecting Cleveland to Kent & Akron, this wonderful trail follows an abandoned railroad corridor and connects communities with a great paved multi-use trail.
This is one of the originals. Been riding it for over 20 years. The paving of rails to trails portion a few years ago was a major improvement. The trail from the Portage County end to Brandywine Falls at the Northend is always changing and offers the beautiful scenery of the Cuyahoga Valley area. Pack a lunch and enjoy. Summer weekends the trail is very busy.
Scenic path from stow road north, especially north of route 8. Multiple crossroads, most of which are not busy and can be crossed without stopping. The Brandywine area has been completed so the trail is now completely offroad all the way to Cuyahoga County where it joins up the the Emerald Necklace trail network.
No ammenities to speak of along the way except Brandywine Park, so pack water. Brandywine Falls is a great spot to pull over and check the view of the falls.
The section along the Cuyahoga River in Stow, Kent is scenic but very hilly. The connection from this section to the section mentioned above involves riding on city streets in Stow. Not busy, but i find it confusing with lots of turns. It runs along route 8 on a nice but hilly path and joins up with the main trail near route 303.
Good riding surface throughtout. Tremendous trail system.
Then northern trail section is good, not always scenic, but nice. The loop on the East side is a bad mixture with roads that are busy.
Took a few hours this gorgeous Sunday afternoon to explore 30 miles of the Bike and Hike trail. A very pleasant ride. I'll be back for more... and will be bringing a friend along next time.
This is a nice trail for walking or jogging. It is mostly flat, somewhat shaded, blacktop in good repair. For biking, though, for someone who does extended rides, you may get a little frustrated because the trail gets intersected by very busy roads every few miles.
I grew up in this area and remember trying to ride this Rail/trails when it was first abandoned in the 70's.
I am back visiting family and went out riding the southern part that is a loop. I found that I could cross some abandoned tracks off of 2nd and Bailey in Cuyahoga Falls to access the trail in Silver Lake. I was doing fine finding the trail until I was almost back to the Falls and had problems on Springdale Rd. I thought I was going to be on trail or at least bike lanes and there wasn't any markings. I did notice an abandoned tracks off of Springdale Road that from my map are the tracks that crossed in Cuyahoga Falls. I would be nice to see that they get this corridor and have a nice trail from Husdon Drive back to Cuyahoga Falls. Would love to know if that is the future of this trail.
This is my favorite bike trail in Northeast Ohio. The Towpath Trail in the Cuyahoga Valley is pleasant but I prefer this quieter less populated bike trail. The Hike and Bike Trail pavement is well maintained by Summit and Portage Counties with only a few occasional bumps. The section in Portage County between Hudson and Spell Road is only a mile and a half in length. The trail offers plenty of wooden benches to stop and break with some of them located in the cool heavily wooded areas. I like to ride the trail from Kent at the Judson Road Trailhead to Tinkers Creek Gorge in the Cleveland Metro Parks (about 40 miles round-trip). The trail is flat with the only inclines coming at road crossings. Most of the road crossings north of SR 303 are very quiet with very little traffic and can usually be crossed without having to stop. The highlight of the portion between SR 303 and Boston Road is the Sharon Conglomerate rock walls of the Boston Ledges that rise along the trail south of Boston Mills. This section of trail is located in the deepest section of woods on the trail. Just north of Boston Mills a bridge crossing over the Ohio Turnpike offers a decent view as the Ohio Turnpike snakes its way through the Cuyahoga Valley. Looking towards the east the Olde Route Eight Bridge steel arches straddle the turnpike.
At Brandywine the trail briefly ends and you have to take the road for about a mile. Traffic on Brandywine Road is light but the inclines on each side of the bridge over IR 271 are steep especially going north. After crossing over the IR 271 and Brandywine Creek bridges take a left into the parking area that lead to the Brandy Wine Falls and the Inn at Brandywine. This is definitely one of the highlights of the trail. The trail picks up again on the left a few tenths of mile after cresting the steep hill and continues through Sagamore Hills. At Sagamore Hills, there is three miles of trail that have power line towers directly over the trail or to the side. This is somewhat of an eyesore but the last half-mile does have some pleasant views of the Cuyahoga Valley. The section of trail maintained by Summit County ends at the Alexander Road parking area and The Cleveland Metro Parks Bedford Reservation begins once you cross Alexander Road. The metro parks are not flat like the hike and bike trail but most of the hills have only a moderate incline. Take the Gorge Parkway about two and half miles to the Tinkers Creek Gorge Overlook. There is an observation deck to view this outstanding natural landmark.
The bike ride back to the south offers a challenging climb, a choice of trail routes south of the SR 8 bike bridge and a couple of crossings with moderate traffic volume. There is a steep incline as you bike south past the SR 303 trailhead that is a strenuous 5% grade and is followed quickly by another smaller climb over the arch on the bridge over SR 8. The trail does a “Y” split after crossing over this bridge and you have a choice to go south to Cuyahoga Falls or south/southeast through the remainder of Summit County and into Portage County towards the Judson Rd Trailhead. I prefer to take the split to the left towards Portage County because it offers a quiet ride through several wetlands, peaceful farmland and tree lined trails. You will notice a difference in the volume of traffic at the crossings south of SR 303 at Norton and Stow Rd if you catch them during the afternoon rush hour. The split to the right takes you parallel along SR 8 to the Steels Corners Rd parking area and offers very little to look at; a right-of-way fence with businesses on one side and the highway on the other side. You’ll have to wait for the traffic crossing signal to change in your favor to cross Steels Corners Rd and Graham Rd. I've been told the trail improves on the other side of Graham Rd but I've never taken that far because I don't like waiting at busy intersections and I bike to get away from traffic and the city life.
I have ridden this complete loop 2 different times in the last month. Both times I most enjoyed the segment near Munroe Falls heading towards Stow. This segment is very hilly and really makes you work your legs. It does have some sharp, blind corners, however, it is a great cardio workout.
The markings by the section near Stow-Munroe Falls High School have been improved. After coming out of the residential section, there is a sign that directs you to the right to a stop light and then back in front of the high school. That used to confuse me because I was never sure which way to turn or go at that point. When you get to Stow-Munroe Falls High School, be sure to get up onto the sidewalk at the exit of the school or you have to take your bike up and over the curb to continue on the trail.
The Brandywine Road segment can be intimidating if there is a lot of traffic because you are riding on the road and it is a steep descent going north and an intense climb coming back south. Watch for traffic and hold your ground or you may not make it back up the hill without a great deal of effort.
The hill right around the Route 8 bridge is steep. It comes up on you rather quickly and if you are unfamiliar with its location, you can have a difficult time ascending or descending.
The ride through the residential areas is terrific. I haven't had an issue with dogs or a lot of traffic. The segment between Route 271 and Alexander Road is very pretty also. I was somewhat surprised the first time I rode this trail that I was riding underneath of powerlines, but once you get used to it, it isn't that bad.
The loop section of this trail is about 22 miles, so if you don't want to deal with Brandywine Road, just make the complete loop and it is a nice workout.
This was my first time riding in Cuyahoga County. I selected this particular path because of the length (33 miles) and the beautiful "rambling and rolling hills" description. "Rambling" was an understatement...the path was disjointed and broken up by constant roadway crossings, and lack of trail markers...leading us lose the trail multiple times (we weren't the only ones; we encountered other rides with the same "WTF" wonderment). It was impossible to gain any momentum because roadway crossings were constant...and often took minutes for traffic to clear before proceeding. Beautitful? Maybe...if you considering riding for miles directly underneath power lines beautiful. Most disappointing was the flat terrain. I'm used to riding in Geauga County and was looking forward to experiencing hills in my new"back yard." Unfortunately, I won't be back and will continue to travel back and forth to Geauga County...so disappointed in this trail!!
This is the trail that I ride all the time. I ride the trail form Kent, Ohio (Hudson and Judson Road) to Brandywine Road. At Brandywine you have to "share the Road" so I usually stop and turn around. The trail is flat with the only inclines coming at road crossings. The trail is paved very well with only 2 bumps caused by tree roots. The portion between Rt 303 and Boston road (couple miles) is the most scenic as you ride through the cliffs and evergreens. Summit County takes very good care of their trail...Portage County does not. You are only in Portage County for a couple miles and it still is pretty good. It is 11 miles from Kent to Brandywine Road. It is the best ride on the trail.
The trail does a “Y” split at Rt 8 in Hudson and heads south to Cuyahoga Falls. This portion is a whole different story.
As there are 2 trails, one through Silver Lake to the west and the second one to the east, through Stow I rode both. I wasn't fond of the sound of traffic when going along Rt 8, but considered the hill near the hospital an enjoyable challenge. But the western branch was easy to follow.
Going through Stow, on the eastern branch, I got mixed up near the high school. After reaching Rt 303, turning around at the fork in the trail, again I chose the eastern trail. It was a moe scenic and enjoyable ride except that it ended abruptly at Hudson Rd. I was near a dog park, which I think was Silver Springs.
I was tired by then, and had no energy to randomly search the country roads looking for a way to reconnect with any trail. Also, a bigger worry, I had on a dark shirt, as I planned to be on trails, and dusk was approaching. There was no safe way to ride on the roads, even if I was up to it. I had my cell and called friends who came to meet me in their car and lead the way back to where the trail picked up.
There was one spot about midway, (on my homebound trip) where the trail branched to the right. I chose to stay on the main trail as I didn't see any sign directing me otherwise. Now, I'm wondering if that branch would have lead me in the right direction.
I did call the Stow planning department before leaving to see if there were any places which I should be aware of, but wasn't able to speak to anyone.
As of early 08 this trail is entirely paved in Summit County. Though largely flat, there are several hills, some of them short and steep at road crossings. A mile north of the Rt. 303 parking lot north is a beautiful section between rocky cliffs, then woods and farmland, then one mile down and up a hill on Brandywine Road to cross the interstate highway -- a bikes-only trail and bridge is planned to eliminate this in the future. South of 303, the trail is a loop. Two sections of the loop use residential streets, one in Silver Lake and the other north and south of Stow High School. At least three crossings of busy roads fall in those sections, but can be handled at traffic lights.
I understand that a new fence gate allows access to the trail from the lot of the Akron General Health and Wellness Center off Steels Corner Road at Rt. 8.
I believe all the trail in the Akron/Stow area is now blacktop. Yes there is a very steep high hill to get over Rt. 8. The railbed is below the grade level of Rt. 8 but when the trail was built, they routed it slightly south and up and over a new trail bridge ABOVE Rt. 8. It is a tough pull even on a normal bicycle and no level places as the disabilities act calls for. Poor design.
From Rt. 8, the trail runs north 11 miles to Cleveland, though I am not sure if all of that is blacktop, and connects to the Emerald Necklace (Cleve. Metro Park system) at Gorge Parkway in Cuyahoga County. (There is a short on-road piece at the Brandywine Falls area.) South there are two branches. One follows Rt. 8 south to Silver Lake and then becomes an on-road signed route thru Silver Lake before becoming a rail-trail again after several miles thru residentual neighborhoods at Munroe Falls. That leg totals about 11 miles. The other route runs east from Rt. 8 about 7 miles to Hudson Rd. in Portage Co. north of Kent and they recently finished blacktoping the last crushed stone areaon that leg.
"We rode a 10 mile leg of this trail in June 2007. Really enjoyed it. Nicely maintained where we rode. Watch crossing the roads, very busy. Definitely stop at the waterfall for a look."
"This trail is broken up into a bunch of different parts and even local folks do not seem to know much about it. I was told it was all asphalt but it turns out much of it is crushed stone. Parking is marginal and the trail is not marked very well at all. Then when I rode about 4 miles through a real nice area I came to a huge hill that I could not manage on my handcycle even though the trail is supposidly wheelchair accessible. I spoke to park rangers about the problem and they said they would have to close the trail to accommodate my needs. I just wish people would simply tell the truth before listing thier trails at this web site!
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"This trail has lots of variation, rolling, fun terrain by the Cuyahoga, and it's shady and quiet. It's also remote from food stops and services except by the northen start at the Route 303 and Steels Corners intersections, so bring food for a great family loop."
"This is my favorite ride in the Cleveland-Akron area. It's shady, scenic, and not as crowded as the towpath or the trails in the Cleveland Metroparks. I suggest parking off Route 82 and then heading south. All users, all levels will enjoy this one."
This is an excellent trail. We used to take the kids out on this trail on a tandem and a trailer. The park near the Stow terminus is an excellent place for a picnic. I wish they had trails like this in Texas.
"Beautiful, heavily wooded on each side of trail. Just a short piece not paved yet. We don't see trails like this in CA."
We liked the fact that this trail (on a Sunday afternoon) was not as crowded as some other trails that are nearby.
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