and the Clean Ohio Trail Fund, Knox
County has been able to acquire portions
of the railroad right-of-way. But it hasn’t
stopped there. With the help of a gener-
ous business owner in Mount Vernon,
Karen Wright of Ariel Corporation, the
county is working on developing con-
nector trails. Marshall says the trails have
brought an uptick in traffic to local busi-
ness, leading one to start a bike rental
operation. “The trail is reinvigorating a
part of Mount Vernon that was economi-
cally depressed.”
Knox County also is home to the
Mohican Valley Trail, a rail-trail that is
not yet paved but is open to Amish bug-
gies and equestrians. It features the Bridge
of Dreams, the longest covered trail
bridge in Ohio, the second-longest in the
nation and a significant tourist attraction.
Ninety miles north, the 110-mile
Ohio & Erie Canalway Towpath Trail
runs through downtown Akron. The trail,
which follows a historic canal that traces
the curve of the Cuyahoga River, was
completed in Summit County in 2011.
The towpath trail has created recreation
opportunities for downtown employees
and residents, while encouraging revital-
ization of old rubber factory buildings.
We’ve seen companies relocating next
to the towpath trail so their employees
can have access to it,” says Dan Rice,
president and chief executive officer of
the Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition,
which helped complete the trail. “The
project is being used as part of an eco-
nomic development package to help
companies relocate and move to northeast
Akron had the foresight to recognize
the importance of the trail a decade ago.
Since then, Rice says the city has seen
$110 million in investment along the
trail. “We created a beautiful park along
the canal, and we have over 100,000
people attend concerts there in the sum-
mer,” he says. “There’s also Canal Park,
our Double A [Akron Aeros] baseball
stadium. The Towpath Trail goes right
behind the left-field fence.”
The Home Stretch
The towpath trail is a key connector in
the Ohio to Erie Trail network. From
Akron, the Ohio to Erie Trail travels 40
miles north to Cleveland. In the last five
miles of its winding journey to Lake Erie,
the trail slices beneath railroad bridges,
jogs alongside steel mills, passes through a
National Park Service Ranger Nick Roll opens
the Ohio & Erie Canalway Visitors Center at
the Boston Store; bottom, as he does almost
every day, Bill Jenkins rides his custom bicycle
by Gambier Station outside Mount Vernon.
At right, the recently constructed boardwalk
across Summit Lake in Akron is another
improvement to the developing Ohio & Erie
Canalway Towpath Trail; above, runners in
Boston Township pass the iconic Boston Store
and M.D. Garage, a restored gas station now
used for art shows and community events.