From the Record Courier 11/9/21
"Due to the Southwest Sanitary Pump Station project in Kent, three roads are closed in the area starting Tuesday and will remain closed until Feb. 23, the city posted on its Facebook page.
The roads are Middlebury Road from Route 261 to Hughey Drive, Akron Boulevard, and Yacavona Drive.
Motorists are asked to follow posted detours during this project.
The project consists of eliminating the Yacavona pump station, replacing the Middlebury Road pump station, and installation of a sanitary trunk sewer from the Yacavona pump station to the Middlebury Road pump station."
Presumably, the road will be open to cyclists from the Portage Hike and Bike Trail to the Freedom Trail as road demolition is not planned for that section of Middlebury Rd. TBD. The Ohio EPA review of the project in May showed a work area extending NE from the intersection of the grassy right of way (aligned with Akron Blvd just north of the Cuyahoga River) to Yacavona Dr. Anyone normally riding from 59 to 261 on Middlebury should be able to detour to the the Portage H&B Trail at Paulus Dr.
The towpath is closed due to the levee repairs along the Tuscarawas River in Massillon. OTET's suggested trail detour including a link to a map is posted at:
This 1.3 mile road route will get you to the Sippo Trail, which you can follow east, back to the towpath south.
This was previously posted in the Portage County Roads Page on 8/13/2021
This round of repairs includes county roads in Brimfield, Atwater and Randolph townships:
The bridge across the West Branch of the Mahoning River, half a mile west of Garrett Rd is closed until repairs can be made in late 2022. The lowest traffic cycling detour from Peck Road to the east is via McCormick and Garrett Rds.
The following roads will be resurfaced in 2021. None of these appear to impact current trail connection routes posted on this site.
Alden Drive from Gloucester Road to North Delemonte Boulevard
Fronek Road from Fairacres Avenue to South Delemonte Boulevard
Gloucester Road from Greentree Parkway to the north end
Market Square Drive from Route 303 to Route 14
Mids Court from the south end to the north end
Mitchell Drive from Dorothy Drive to Mount Vernon Drive
Murial Drive from Dorothy Drive to Mount Vernon Drive
Opal Court from the west end to the east end
Sidney Drive from Dorothy Drive to Mount Vernon Drive
Sparrow Run from North Delemonte Boulevard to the east end
Stratford Court from the south end to Gloucester Road
Walsh Drive from Jennifer Lane to Danns Way
Wiencek Road to Annalane Drive to Route 303
Yesterday I had the pleasure of riding with a couple that decided to use this website as a way to navigate around Cleveland on mostly rural roads and trails. Rachel and Patrick are from Boise, Idaho, and are traveling from Washington to Maine on their own version of the Northern Tier Route. They are incorporating trails as much as possible. They entered our area from the west using the Valley Parkway Trail, Towpath to Pennisula, Rt 303, and the Summit Hike and Bike trail.
Happy to demonstrate the route, I met up with Rachel and Patrick on the Portage Hike and Bike Trail early on August 16th, near the North Water Brewing Company. A light rain began almost immediately and continued throughout the day. We followed the trail to its terminus at Peck Road, and continued north on Peck for seven miles. This road is also part of the Buckeye Trail. It intersects with the Headwaters Trail less than a mile from downtown Mantua, a potential stopping point for cycle tourists and a Buckeye Trail Town. We continued east to Garrettsville and used the newly paved connector from the trail end at the city ballfields to reach Rt 82. Stopping for a snack at the nearby IGA, we then scooted around the back of the building and continued east on quiet country lanes including Silica/Pierce, Silica Sand, and Eagle Creek Roads. The only hiccup was a detour necessitated by a missing bridge where Silica Sand Rd crosses Eagle Creek. A construction worker confirmed there was “nothing there but swimming snakes and rocks.” 11/10/21 Update: The bridge was back in service by November as planned.
We took a slightly more southerly route to the Western Reserve Greenway alignment than the connection I promote on this site, as they planned to stay in downtown Warren near the county courthouse. They will head up the WRG next, and plan to travel the Erie Canalway before continuing north, then east.
You can read more about their travels at: www.cycleblaze.com/journals/racpatnortherntier2021/
Some repaving is planned for the remainder of 2021 for the following roads:
Diagonal Rd from Route 303 to Mennonite Road
Ranfield Road, from Old Forge Road to Saxe Road
Lake Rockwell Road, from Brady Lake Road to Ravenna Road.
Those interested in riding directly to Warren from Garrettsville, will need to rethink their route, at least until the end of October 2021. If leaving the Headwaters Trail in Garrettsville via Silica/Pierce Rd and continuing east on Silica Sand Rd, you will find the bridge over Eagle Creek has been removed for replacement. The road is blocked just beyond Haul Rd, which appears to be a private, packed gravel service road leading to Rt 82. The gate may be open (it was on 8/16). The official detour appears to be Parkman Rd. (from Pierce to 82). Once on 82, continue east to Shanks-Downes Rd (N), Shanks-Phalanx Rd (E), Braceville-Robinson Rd (N), and Eagle Creek Rd (E). If heading towards the Courthouse District, turn left on N. Levitt Rd., ride thru the CVS parking lot at the intersection with 422, and ride on the sidewalk (if busy) until you cross the river. Then left on Tod Ave. Easy Peasy from there.
Starting from just south of Canfield, OH, I mapped out a possible route to Pittsburgh using quiet(er) rural roads. Some of this route had been previously ridden by some long-distance cyclists based in the Pittsburgh area. I assumed the prospective rider had already arrived at Washingtonville Rd, at the south end of the Mill Creek Metroparks Bikeway. What follows is a report on the route after driving it.
Leg 1: Washingtonville Rd to the Beaver River
This was almost entirely on farm roads except for a jog through the city of Columbiana. They were generally pretty quiet, but as you might expect these roads were sometimes rough and there were a few long hills. After leaving Washingtonville Rd via Garfield Rd and Green Beaver Rd, there was a long hill and rough pavement. After that, is was mostly smooth (but lumpy) sailing into Columbiana. East of town we diverged onto Columbiana New Castle/Heck Rd. We continued to zig zag due east including Dickerson, Burkey, and Moravia Roads. There is substantial hill on Moravia. Near the Beaver River we turned south on PA-18, which has ample shoulders. We crossed the river in Wampum.
Leg 2: Through the hills and valleys SE to Cranberry Township.
Initially we were on PA-288 which had good shoulders until we entered Elwood. A couple of miles of busy "city" roads followed. PA Bicycle Route A will be encountered in this area and should be avoided. This leads to Rt 51 in Rochester and miles of high-speed, dangerous traffic. After leaving Elwood, we turned left onto Country Club road and had a respite from traffic and hills for a few miles. After this the climbs and rollers began as we approached PA-588 and continued to PA-989/ Glen Eden Rd which parallels the north side of I-76.
Leg 3: Down the hill from Cranberry Township to the Ohio River Valley at Ambridge.
Expected to be a high point of the route due to the long downhills, this was probably the most dangerous section. The plan was to use Brush Creek Rd and Big Sewickley Creek Rd to descend. Unfortunately there were no shoulders on this curvy, high speed road and this segment is NOT recommended. An alternate route using Camp Meeting Rd (includes a 1-mile 4% uphill) from Big Sewickley Creek Rd, then down via Fern Hollow and Little Sewickley Creek Roads would be safer.
Leg 4: Ambridge to the GAP
If the long hill to Ambridge is taken, you will want to turn left on Main, then left on Beaver Street to stay north of Route 65, which is dangerous in this area. Once in Sewickley, you can cross the bridge to a somewhat safer stretch of Route 51 (very unsafe north of here). Detour onto Neville Island at Coraopolis and emerge back onto 51 at the SE end of the island. If you want to begin the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) at mile zero, Google Maps will direct you across the McKees Rocks Bridge, through a very big/busy intersection with 65 on the other side of the river, and up a hill into a neighborhood. Turn right on California Ave. Go left on Antrim, right on McClure, right on Ekert, right on Preble, and Left on Westhall to reach the Three Rivers Heritage Trail. From there you can access a bridge to "The Point" in Pittsburgh. The trail is relatively well-marked through Pittsburgh and It's outskirts to McKeesport. Much of the area is developed with the trail following shopping areas, etc.
Short Tours and Day Rides Meet at Lake Erie
This is an account of a trip taken in 2010. I wrote an early version of this as a possible magazine piece, but didn't pursue that very far. The road route taken in Ohio was different from the trail connections suggested in these pages, and used busier routes such as 88 and 303 through Freedom and Windham. The Headwaters trail was rough in those days and I was riding a road bike with skinny tires, so that now-favored connection was omitted.
The rural rail trail was deserted and the cherry-red sunset was done, having passed barely glimpsed through the dense woods. Now the well shaded path was quickly turning into a dark, chilly tunnel of black tree canopies and asphalt. I had gotten a late start on my ride up to Ashtabula and stopped to pull out some wimpy lights I’d packed “just in case.” The last 10 miles to the motel were ridden alone in silence except for the light footfalls of curious deer and the furious flapping of a spooked wild turkey. A quick left into traffic and within a few hundred yards there was a jarring transition to the noise and lights of a major interstate exit. But this was not unwelcome, as the traffic and neon signs meant the motel and a warm bed were near.
This was the end of the first leg of a two-day, 150-mile trip from Northeast Ohio with my wife, Judy, in the extensive vineyards along the Lake Erie shorelines of Western New York. Well, not exactly. She was actually back at the house getting ready to teach the next day and packing to meet me for a much shorter 25-mile trip. Confused yet? I like long days in the saddle, often solo. She enjoys shorter social rides punctuated by other interesting activities. My long ride - to go on our short ride - is our “compromise.”
Lots of us find that family or friends have different expectations of cycling. You may want to ride long and hard, but your cycling partner is just not that into the whole idea of pedaling for 6 hours a day into eternity. But they’d appreciate a shorter adventure. Merging the plans results in a long weekend everyone can enjoy. After a couple of long days of riding TO wine country, I’m relaxed (OK, exhausted) and more than ready for a leisurely ride IN wine country with many stops for photography, beach exploration, bird watching, and wine tasting. Perfect.
The grape harvest coincides with the end of the warm weather riding season, so this ride is a perfect finale to summer. I can travel light on these trips with a credit card and just enough extra clothing to overstuff a trunk bag. Judy loads the car with a bike rack, luggage, and luxuries, so we have whatever we need for maximum relaxation on our days together. The return trip by car is an exploration of country roads and covered bridges, filled with the conversations for which we rarely find time during long overlapping work weeks. This is a good getaway for groups as well, and we’ve also made the trip with our adult daughters and friends.
Home is Kent, Ohio, a mid-sized university town. Our county is a mix of farms, large rural lots, and bedroom communities for Cleveland to the north, Akron to the west, and Youngstown to the east. While the area is bicycle-friendly, I see few cyclists while wandering our inviting country roads. Perhaps it has something to do with the overabundance of bone-shaking potholes and chip-n-seal. More riders frequent the area’s many bike trails, two of which are used on route to our Great Lakes destination.
The start of this mid-September ride was not typical. Instead of leaving early, I worked most of that Thursday, then left the driveway at mid-afternoon, hoping to avoid the boredom of sitting around the hotel room all night. On a previous version of this trip, I had an enjoyable evening as the only customer of a first-time bartender. But my digs for this year were elsewhere and no frosted mugs could be found nearby.
I started my zig-zag route northeast along the fringes of Kent State University. Those wanting to start a tour here will find plenty of hotels nearby, and like most college towns, the nightlife is rich. As the zigging continued, I eventually intersected The Portage Hike and Bike Trail which links Kent and Ravenna, our county seat and home to the Ravenna Balloon A-Fair.
Most long rides feature sharp transitions and this one was no exception. “The Portage” rail trail arrows through the old industrial section of town, eventually kicking you out onto major roads that skirt the north side of the 34 square mile Camp Ravenna Joint Military Training Center, known locally by its historic name, “The Ravenna Arsenal.” This reservation was an ammunition production and storage facility during WW2, Korea, and Viet Nam. Large rural properties and farms flanked the mostly gentle rollers, and although the traffic was moving fast, and the shoulders were narrow, I began to relax and enjoy the scenery. On this day the views included some spectacular thunderheads. Leaving the state roads, I continued northeast through the shady Eagle Creek and Mahoning River bottomlands. I was happy to have invested in armored tires as a lack of recent maintenance on these quiet back roads meant there were short stretches with more holes than pavement. I found some quick dinner in Champion, and then located the Western Reserve Greenway (WRG) trailhead at W. Champion Ave. From here, the paved trail runs 43 miles north to downtown Ashtabula.
My late departure was fortuitous. This trail is already lightly used beyond its endpoints. By 7 pm on this late summer weeknight it was positively deserted once I’d traveled a few miles north. The bad weather was finally rolling in, and I was already losing daylight when I stopped at the Mosquito Creek State Wildlife Area to watch waterfowl settle in for the evening. The ominous clouds were providing an amazing sunset, so I frequently stopped to take photos on the approach into Orwell, which is the most varied food stop near the trail. A smattering of Amish farms also borders this segment of the WRG, and detailed signage along the Ashtabula County portion of the trail highlights the history of the Underground Railroad in this region. By the time I reached Rock Creek, where the Underground Railroad Bicycle Route joins the WRG, it was getting dark, and that’s when I pulled out my cheap lamps and continued into the night. My convenient stopping point at day’s end was the Austinburg interchange of Rt 45 and I-90, a few blocks off the greenway. A late-night delivery pizza ended the long day.
The next morning, I waited out some light rain and rejoined the WRG as the thermometer peeked above 50°F. I ran into the first of the day’s detours within 5 minutes. The repair of a railroad bridge had closed the trail temporarily and the unhelpful crew suggested I follow the greenway detour signs…which didn’t exist. Many turns later I found my way back to the WRG and continued into Ashtabula. In past years I’d ridden directly north to Lake Erie from here (see a suggested route on these pages), but wanted to attempt a different route through some hopefully picturesque river valleys including an historic covered bridge. That plan lasted another 20 minutes or so, until after climbing out of deep valley, I discovered that another bridge was out. The Great Recession was a recent event and the Stimulus Package was clearly at work here. Cursing my useless-for-navigation Blackberry, I gave up on the new route and jogged north on State Street, which I’s previously used to take me to Lake Erie. I had an immediate surprise encounter with the Smolen-Gulf covered bridge, a large, modern “chapeau” to the county’s many historic wooden bridges. After passing through an industrial area north of town, I had my first views of the lake along Rt 531. The ride east to Conneaut hugged the shore. Sunset and Conneaut Parks provided quiet places to stop and enjoy the lake.
The Lake Erie shoreline is wine country, and a few Ashtabula County wineries are easily accessible from this route. It was too early for tastings, so I found lunch in Conneaut and then crossed the Ashtabula River via Rt 20 and continued east. Once across the Pennsylvania line, I diverted north onto Rt 5 (West Lake Rd), following PA Bike Route Z, which is also part of the Adventure Cycling Association’s Northern Tier and UGRR bike routes.
At Avonia Rd, I detoured to the lake to see if the steelhead trout were running. The tiny stream, park and beach at the end of the road are unassuming, but load up with hundreds of migrating fish in September and October. As a biologist this migration of a transplanted Pacific Ocean fish never ceases to amaze me. Steelhead are not self-sustaining without restocking. The Avonia locks allow returning fish to enter a pool where they can be collected and moved to a nearby hatchery. Ironically, Trout Run is likely named for native Lake Trout, which largely disappeared from Lake Erie a half century ago. They fell victim to the sea lamprey, a leech-like parasitic fish that entered the upper great lakes through the shipping canal that bypasses Niagara Falls.
Back on Rt. 5, it was clear I was approaching Erie, PA when Bike route Z veered north within sight of the airport control tower, and again at 6th St. Turning left at Peninsula Road I coasted down a hill under an unexpected roller coaster and entered Presque Isle State Park. This long spit of glacial deposits features 14 miles of dedicated bike lanes and paved bike trails that wander through seven ecological zones. Presque Isle is an amazing place at peak fall color, and the yellow cottonwoods along the dunes are especially striking against the white sand and blue lake. It is also a prime bird watching area during seasonal migrations. I was too early for all of that, but would return with Judy on a fall weekend specifically to savor these experiences. The peninsula was a base of operations for the Battle of Lake Erie, during the War of 1812. The Perry Monument commemorates the victory of the small American fleet. If you have time to linger, the Tom Ridge Environmental Center at the park entrance is also worth a visit. This large, modern facility focuses on the ecology and history of the area.
Passage through the City of Erie was remarkably easy. Returning to route Z, I left city streets at a small park and hopped on a paved bike path that parallels the Bayfront Parkway. Marinas, restaurants, an observation tower at Dobbin’s Landing, and the Lake Erie Maritime Museum are within a stone’s throw of the bike path. When it is in port, Admiral Perry’s restored relief flagship, the U.S. Brig Niagara, can be viewed here. On this particular trip I happened upon a Tall Ships event that crowded the harbor with vintage sailing vessels. It was a good day to be on a bike path as the city streets were gridlocked with tourists. Leaving Erie eastbound on westbound sidewalks designated as route Z, the road quickly transitioned back to a more rural byway. I rolled into the Lakeview on the Lake motel, nine miles from Erie, with plenty of time to hit the showers before watching a Lake Erie sunset from their beachside bluff. This small strip motel and cabins have been lovingly restored into comfortable lodging for the weary cyclist. The rocky beach can be reached by a long winding stairway thru a wooded ravine. The Pines Motel and Cottage about 10 miles further down Rt 5 is another good lodging spot, you’ll just need to walk a little further to enjoy that sunset.
Judy arrived late on this Friday night after a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Kent. Once she rendezvoused with me at Lakeview, the personal endurance contest ended and the relaxation began: time to break out the wine glasses. We drove for morning and evening meals, but a couple of these local restaurants were also on our winery loop ride. The Freeport Restaurant is five miles east of Lakeview, and is a great destination for a casual breakfast, lunch or dinner. Homemade sausage, fresh fish, and rich soups are specialties. Another convenient spot for lunch, dinner, or cocktails is the CrayZ Parrot, located on the backside of the North East Marina main building a few more miles down Rt 5. The deck overlooks the marina and is another prime sunset-viewing location.
Day three didn’t start early. We slept in, enjoyed a substantial breakfast at “The Freeport” in nothing resembling spandex, and then peddled out of the motel parking lot at 10:00 AM. Our clockwise route was fairly simple: we headed east on Rt 5 for about 10 miles until we entered New York State, jogged south to Rt 20 west, and then looped back to the motel. There are more than a dozen wineries on or near this route, and we targeted a half dozen. We responsibly enjoyed limited tastings, often splitting a single batch of samples. We lingered to chat with the staff or owners, and stopped often to snack, hydrate, sightsee and take photographs. We made a 24-mile ride last until late afternoon.
Climbing out of the first valley on Rt 5, there were some scenic views across vineyards that descend towards Lake Erie. To our southeast was the high escarpment formed by the edge of the Allegheny Plateau. The ridgeline is the divide between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River drainages. Wineries on our route (in order) included Penn Shore Winery and Vineyards, South Shore Wine Company, Mazza Vineyards, Sparkling Ponds Winery, Quincy Cellars, Heritage Winery, Arrowhead Wine Cellars, Courtyard Wineries, and Presque Isle Wine Cellars. South Shore was the only winery we visited that was not on the main loop. To reach it, we turned north at the Freeport Restaurant, which is located in a little river valley, and climbed Rt 89 for a half mile. Our reward was the area’s oldest winery location, reopened and refurbished by the Mazza family starting in 2007. The wine shop was located down a flight of stairs in the original arched stone wine cellar. There was also a café on site. Backtracking down the hill, we crossed Rt. 5 and continued to the beach. Our electric orange and hot pink safety jerseys nicely complemented the traditional purple garb and red headgear of a group of Red Hat Ladies that had also paused here between tastings. Continuing east, we turned right on Shortman Road, which I call the “Zombie Exit” on I-90 because nearly all the businesses have been abandoned. We then headed west on Route 20, which follows the Beach Ridge, the former shoreline of ancient lakes that formed between the receding glaciers and the escarpment. The well-drained beach soils help make this wine region possible. After visiting the wineries, the easy way to complete the loop back to Lakeview on the Lake was via Moorheadville, Lewis, and Shomont Roads, avoiding some hilly lakeside ravines on Rt. 5.
Each winery had its own unique atmosphere. Other than South Shore, some that were memorable include: tasting in the converted living room of a newer home where one wine was said to have “a tomato aftertaste that would stick with you for days” (yum?), a curved, industrial concrete bar in a wood-beamed barn cellar (Quincy), and self-service tasting of a large selection in a tiny “general store” atmosphere (Heritage). Each winery we visited had some good, or at least unusual, wines. By September many of the good reds had sold out, so plan an early season ride to taste more varieties. Our palates particularly favored the local Chardonnays and Cabernet Francs. Dining opportunities on southern part of the loop include a number of options in downtown North East, PA.
We opted not to purchase any bottled wine while biking (no panniers, too heavy, and not compatible with the whole “relaxing” concept). So, after a nice dinner, quiet night, and another slow breakfast, we made a quick circuit in the car and grabbed our favorites on the way back to Kent. We were both suitably exercised and relaxed. I logged some extensive bike time, and that planning experience would inform my route on a future longer trip to the Erie Canalway Trail. Afterwards Judy and I enjoyed a casually-paced winery circuit, a welcome respite from our busy careers. It was a wine-tempered, but whine-free weekend.