Cuyahoga Valley National Park – Bike, Hike, Ride
The leaves are almost at their peak, and the weather is holding up pretty well (we deserve it). It’s absolutely the time to log some outdoor time before winter comes. And after a recent visit, it’s decided that the Cuyahoga Valley National Park is THE perfect place for time well spent.
Between biking/hiking trails, the Ohio Erie Canal Towpath, the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad and the original Winking Lizard, Peninsula, Ohio has a lot to offer in one spot.
I’ve been in and out of the park for hiking, farmer’s markets and passing through, but this time around was a first for biking – and it was such a fun time, I’ve already started hunting for my very own bike.
We rented our bikes from Century Cycles, located about 50 feet from an entry point for the bike trails. They cost $9/hour per bike (8 speeds). For parents, they have the tow-your-kid-around-thing that hooks on to your bike for an extra $4.50. They fit you for the correct size bike, set you up with a helmet and even offer you a basket (which I think is fab if you want to bring a picnic). They were super helpful with our rentals, and seem like they’d be a good group to actually purchase a bike from.
Note: if you haven’t been on a bike in 15+ years, it-feels-weird. At first, at least. After a quick moment of “what the hell did I agree to?” the skills came back and it was smooth sailing from there.
We opted to go North on the towpath, stopping at Boston Mills and eventually landing in Brecksville before turning back. There are tons of trails that branch from the towpath, enough that you could have a different route and scenery change each time you go.
The towpath we stuck to was fairly flat, with a few inclines here and there, but is overall easy cruising. We journeyed around the Cuyahoga River, went under a few colossal bridges, biked through halls of trees and even had a couple of neat stops; in Boston Mills (around 2 miles north) there is a boating/lock museum and snack store and a handful of shoulders to stop and snap some pictures. We road a total of 14 miles, which was perfect. We weren’t worn out, but definitely got a good amount of time in.
With no equipment needed, aside from a pair of comfy shoes, the Cuyahoga Valley National Park hiking trails are unbelievable. Navigation is easy with plenty of signage and easy to understand maps along the way. People on the trails are friendly, say hi with a wave or nod, and are courteous to the folks they share the path with.
After returning our bikes, we crossed the CVSR tracks to Winking Lizard – the original. The lizard is one of our favorite spots around North Canton/Akron to grab a beer and wings, so grabbing apps where “it all started” was a cool experience. The atmosphere is cozy and comfy inside with a big bar, and equally as big dining area, it has a real down-home, genuine feel. Patio season will be wrapping up soon, but make sure to try theirs when temps creep back up.
Worthy of a side note: Yum Yum Sweet Shop, an old time candy shop just a few doors over. You must stop in to try their salt water taffy, old-school candy or grab a cup of Pav’s ice cream. The big hook here is their specialty soda cooler which is full of craft pop like Sioux City, Boylan, Norka, etc.
Try out the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad while you’re at it. Normal options include $3 rates to bike and ride or the National Park Scenic tour (Wed-Sun).
Two of the adult events the scenic railroad hosts include “Grape Escape“, a wine tasting excursions and “Ales on Rails“, a beer tasting excursion. We’ll be attending Ales on Rails tomorrow, so more details on that soon!
Parking: Lots of 2 hour parking is available on side streets, there is some parking at Century Cycle and the Winking Lizard.
GPS: The easiest way to get there is on Route 8, but you can also plug in the following address to get you in the right area. 1621 Main St, Peninsula, OH 44264