By Lindsay Smith
Summit Metro Parks (SMP) manages over 70 miles of beautiful biking trails. Chances are, no matter your level of experience, there’s a bike ride for you nearby in Summit County.
Bike & Hike Trail
Our paved, 34-mile Bike & Hike Trail was one of the first “rails to trails” conversions in the country. Sections of the Bike & Hike Trail follow the course of two abandoned railroads. In Munroe Falls, the Bike & Hike Trail parallels a scenic section of the Cuyahoga River, where a variety of waterfowl and other birds can be seen. South of Boston Mills Road in Boston Heights, the Sharon Conglomerate rock walls of the Boston Ledges rise along the trail with breathtaking effect. In this section, park district staff recently added underground wildlife crossing tunnels to help salamanders and other creatures make it safely across the trail site without impacts from cyclists.
Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail
The popular Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail is 87 miles long and extends from Cleveland south to Tuscarawas County. Summit Metro Parks manages 22 miles of the trail in Summit County. This multipurpose trail is a combination of crushed limestone and paved surface. For most of its course, this trail closely follows the path used by canal boats in the 1800s on the Ohio & Erie Canal. Today, when cyclists can make tracks through Summit County, they’ll enjoy many opportunities along the trail to enjoy nature and short detours into towns and cities.
Starting near the Portage County Hike & Bike Trail in Kent, this paved multipurpose trail – on land owned by METRO Regional Transit Authority – follows an unused railroad corridor southwest into Akron. Eventually, the trail could connect to Downtown Akron near The University of Akron campus.
MOUNTAIN BIKE TRAILS
Looking for a more adventurous ride? We currently offer over 8 miles of trails in the Hampton Hills Mountain Bike Area, at 2092 Theiss Road in Akron. The first section of these specialty trails opened in 2016 and we’ve been adding to and improving the area since. When complete, the Mountain Bike Area could feature up to 16 miles of trails. Riders will find beginner, intermediate and advanced sections – so there are plenty of options for new and experienced riders alike.
A TRAIL USER’S PERSPECTIVE
Summit Metro Parks Civil Engineer Chuck Hauber works behind the scenes to deliver safe and abundant biking trails for residents. Off the clock, Hauber is an active user of these very trails. “My favorite section to ride is the Bike & Hike Trail north of Route 303. The ledges are a spectacular sight,” he said. “I also bike to work at least one day a week. I start at the Vanderhoof Road Trailhead of the Towpath Trail and bike north, about 15 miles,” added Hauber.
“From first-hand experience, our trails are some of the most well maintained and our crews work very hard to deliver the best possible to the public. We also have made sure to offer plenty of parking lots, trailheads and access points,” he shared.
TRAIL ETIQUETTE TIPS
When enjoying a ride on SMP trails, we ask cyclists to follow these simple guidelines:
Be Courteous: All trail users should be respectful of others regardless of speed, skill level or mode of travel (i.e., bicycle, wheelchair or on foot).
Pass on the Left: Pass other trail users on their left. Give an audible signal before passing, either by voice (e.g., “On Your Left!”) or other means (e.g., ringing a bell). Pay special attention when passing children and pets.
Stopping: Move to the right when stopping. If possible, exit the trail. Be cautious of others approaching from behind and make sure they know you are pulling over.
Be Predictable: Travel in a consistent and predictable manner. Always look behind you before changing positions on the trail.
Don’t Block the Trail: Use no more than half of the trail. Do not block the flow of other users.
Obey All Traffic Signs and Signals: Use extra caution where trails cross streets. Stop at all signals and intersections. When entering or crossing a trail, yield to other users.
In addition, on every trail managed by Summit Metro Parks, dogs must be on leashes no more than 8 feet long. Mutt Mitts are provided in many high-usage areas to help visitors clean up after their pets.
For more information about cycling and other adventures in Summit Metro Parks, visit summitmetroparks.org.
Bike Summit Metro Parks