By James E. Mahon II and McKae Matthews
Don’t let the title of this article fool you; we’re not here to review the traditional “ins & outs” of walking, biking, hiking, horseback riding or running on our incredible network of Greater Akron trails. Rather, we’re here to let any self-identified “trailer” know that your options are wildly more diverse than you’d likely imagine.
You see, we certainly do have glorious “outside trails” for everyone interested in communing with nature, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t let those less inclined to work up a sweat know that we have “inside trails” that require a different set of skills: sipping and shopping. Honestly, you’ll probably want to enjoy both! Let us explain.
Greater Akron is home to the 7th most-visited national park in the United States in 2020, the Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP). The Park boasts more than 33,000 acres and 125+ miles of diverse trails, encouraging outdoor enthusiasts to test their skills ranging from flat and level, to difficult and strenuous. In terms of aesthetics, enjoy the breathtaking views as you pass through wetlands, woodlands, fields, and plains. CVNP is also home to Brandywine Falls, one of the prettiest waterfalls in Ohio (actually, it’s the prettiest). Whether it’s frozen over with ice or glimmering in the summer sun, it’s a must-see within the park.
With 14,300 acres, Summit Metro Parks (SMP) also boasts 150+ miles of trails, including 22 miles of the Ohio & Erie Canalway Towpath Trail. Although SMP’s 6 million 2020 visitors found countless reasons to enjoy time in the system’s 16 parks, they share one thing in common: the realization that SMP is an invaluable resource for outdoor fun and recreation.
With that all said, if you’re not an inspiring Ironman contestant, enjoy relaxing over sweating, prefer French pressing over bench pressing, and are not particularly fond of bugs, heat, and uneven pathways, fret no more. As promised, we have three “inside trails” that will allow you to strengthen your palate and exercise your retail muscle. These trails might be a little bit more your speed: Summit Brew Path, The Drip Drive, and New Again Akron.
The Summit Brew Path, now in its 5th year, was the Akron/Summit CVB’s first official trail designed to move people throughout Greater Akron for one reason, and one reason only: the pursuit of outstanding craft beers. In 2021, beer enthusiasts can complete 20 or 24 official stops, with each tier qualifying them to win cash prizes and a VIP Brewery Experience Package in the two grand prize drawings.
The 2nd annual “The Drip Drive – Greater Akron Coffee Experience” was launched on June 21 and runs through December 17, 2021. The 18-stop coffee shop tour highlights purveyors that are not national chains, underscoring the need to support local businesses. With each stop, those who choose to participate make a purchase and receive a stamp in their passport. Participants who earn all 18 stamps get a bright orange mug for their efforts. They are also entered into a Greater Akron Experience Package prize drawing. Please “don’t feel the burn” while lifting your mug.
Last but not least, New Again Akron is your trail to Hard-to-Finds and One-of-a-Kinds. This retail adventure trail highlights 25 different locations that have vintage, antique, and reclaimed gifts for your family, friends, and most importantly you. So, if you’ve managed to keep count thus far, you realize that this is our longest indoor trail. How should you prepare? We recommend bringing a wallet, a water bottle, fitted shopping shoes with laces so you don’t trip, and more importantly, a good night’s rest so you don’t get tired or fatigued from your retail workout.
Information about the different locations can be found at these websites: www.nps.gov/cuva; www.summitmetroparks.org; www.summitbrewpath.com; www.thedripdrive.com; and www.newagainakron.com. You can also consult the Akron/Summit Convention & Visitors Bureau website www.akron.travel. Inside or outside, we hope to see you exploring Greater Akron!
Greater Akron Trails 101: The Ins and Outs