Cuyahoga Valley National Park Hike: Boston Trailhead to Lock 29 Trailhead

A small, red-sided building next to a set of railroad tracks

Trail Guide: Cuyahoga Valley National Park, 4th Edition, by Cuyahoga Valley Trails Council

Book Excerpt

From Trail Guide: Cuyahoga Valley National Park, 4th Edition, by Cuyahoga Valley Trails Council


Between the two canal towns of Boston and Peninsula, the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail snakes its way alongside the Cuyahoga River. There is parking at either end for trail visitors.

In Boston, park at the Boston Mill Visitor Center and cross the Cuyahoga River via the pedestrian bridge to reach the Towpath Trail.

Directions: I-77 to Exit 145, Brecksville Road. North one quarter mile to Boston Mills Road. East on Boston Mills Road, jogging left and right to go over I-80, about three miles to Riverview Road. Turn right on Riverview Road then immediately left into the Boston Mill Visitor Center parking lot. From the east side of the park, take I-271 to SR 8. South on SR 8 three and a half miles to Boston Mills Road. West on Boston Mills Road three and a quarter miles to Riverview Road. Turn left then left again into the Boston Mill Visitor Center parking lot.

Trail Description: At the Boston Trailhead, turn south (right) onto a well-used section of the Towpath Trail. After passing over a foot bridge, a trail to the left leads to an overflow parking lot. You will soon notice that, unlike the canal north of this point, there is no longer a canal prism to your left. Construction of the two sets of highway bridges (I-271 and the Ohio Turnpike) and erosion caused by the meandering Cuyahoga River have obliterated about one half mile of canal bed here. Between the two highways, the Buckeye Trail, which rejoined the towpath in Boston, heads off to the east (left). Just after you pass under the turnpike bridges, the canal prism reappears as a ribbon of wetland on your left, only to be lost again as the trail drops down onto a long, winding boardwalk through Stumpy Basin.

Canallers probably called the area Stumpy Basin for the many stumps of trees removed when the basin was originally built. Such basins were used for boat layovers during the active seasons and boat storage during the winter. The towpath, which in many places was the only barrier between the river and the canal, was breached here in the great flood of 1913. The basin is now an active wetland as seasonal floodwaters enter the area. The interpretive wayside on the boardwalk tells how ice was cut from the canal in winter.

Trail map to Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail, Boston to Lock 29

Leaving Stumpy Basin, you pass Lock 31, or Lonesome Lock, and just before Mile 23, pass through a tunnel under the Valley Railway. At Lock 30 are the remains of another feeder complex like the one still in use north of Station Road Bridge Trailhead. Although none of the river dam remains, with a little imagination (and help from the wayside exhibit) you can piece together the remaining ruins to see how water was diverted from the river into the canal.

This segment of trail ends in the village of Peninsula at Lock 29 Trailhead. Don’t miss the opportunity to explore the chamber of Lock 29 before ending or continuing your journey. Lock 29 is unique, because in 1882 it was completely rebuilt with new masonry. This meant the masonry was in good condition during the 1905–1907 repairs when all the other locks had their deteriorated sandstone replaced with concrete. Therefore Lock 29 is the only lock in the Cleveland-to-Akron section of canal that is still made entirely of sandstone. Inside the lock chamber, the wayside tells how masons’ marks were used to measure productivity and determine how much the masonry crews were paid.

Restrooms and water are available at the trailhead. In the village you can find food, shops, a museum, and bike rentals. Peninsula is proud of its arts heritage, making it a delightful place to explore, as it is filled with many historic buildings, shops, and galleries. A walking tour takes you past historic homes and public buildings. Allow time for shopping for exquisite art and locally-grown farm products.

From the book Trail Guide: Cuyahoga Valley National Park, 4th Edition, by Cuyahoga Valley Trails Council. 

© Cuyahoga Valley Trails Council. All rights reserved. This excerpt may not be reproduced without the written permission of Gray & Company, Publishers.

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