In our effort to find and follow the fall season, we stayed the first week of October in Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP) in northern Ohio, where the leafy trees in the rolling hills of the valley had begun to turn bright red, orange, and yellow.
Two of the key features of CVNP are the Towpath Trail, a multi-use biking and hiking trail following the towpath of the historic Ohio & Erie Canal, and the Cuyahoga railroad, which parallels the Towpath Trail.
The canal first facilitated travel and shipping trade in the area in the 1800’s, and then the railroad followed years later, ultimately helping lead to the demise of the canal. Today, the canal is overgrown, yet the stone walls and metal appendages of dozens of locks remain. The Towpath, which once carried horses that pulled barges through the canal, now carries cyclists and runners. The train, once carrying freight and travelers, now carries tourists throughout the national park and connected state and city parks.
I explain all of this to better explain the Bike Aboard! program.
In CVNP, you can bike about 20 miles of the Towpath Trail plus many more miles of side trails. You can bike north or south, starting and stopping where you’d like, seeing artifacts, reading exhibits, and visiting museums.
You could bike out and back on the Towpath, of course, or, for $3 per person, you can bike the Towpath in one direction and ride the train back in the other. This is Bike Aboard!, and it is a fantastic service and fun experience.
When you arrive at one of the historic train stations with your bike, there are attendants to load the bikes into a special rail car designed to carry bikes.
You ride in the next car, an air conditioned passenger car with a snack bar, beer & wine bar, and bathroom.
The train rolls slowly along the rails through CVNP, crossing roads, spanning bridges, and stopping at other stations where passengers and bikers get on and off.
We had a blast utilizing this service. It’s different and fun. We biked a few hours on the bike path, taking our time to explore side trails, locks, and exhibits, timing our arrival at the end of the track with the scheduled train departure. We hopped on the train and rode it 40 minutes back to our starting point.
Here are our photos from our morning biking and riding the train: