Summer bicycling is on the horizon.
And, we couldn’t think of any individuals more qualified to give advice about what bicycle trails enthusiasts should travel upon than representatives of Stark County Bicycle Club.
Dave Cardarella, advocacy chairman for the club, said that “trails are busy” during the lingering period of social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic. Still, riders are riding in smaller groups, pedaling a bit farther apart and picking their favorite trails upon which to ride.
Michael Abrams, a member of Stark County Bicycle Club since the middle of the 1970s, listed four portions of Congressman Ralph Regula Towpath Trail—heading north and south from both the Craig Pittman and St. Helena Heritage trailheads—among his favorite trails.
Indeed, the Regula trail segments in Stark County, along the longer Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail, find favor with many riders because its terrain affords a path fitting a variety of levels of bicyclists.
Other trails favored by Abrams include the Middlebrach Trail, north and south loops, from Veterans Community Park in Canton; the Sippo Valley Trail west to Dalton from Lincoln Park in Massillon; the Iron Horse trail (both west and east) in Alliance; and the Mahoning Valley Trail from Deer Creek Reservoir, heading to Alliance.
Cardarella also asked other members for their input as to what they consider as the best bicycle trails in Stark County. Members of the close-knit riding club are on a first-name basis while participating in their outdoor avocation, so we will be, as well.
>> Mike J.: “My favorite trail ride in Stark County is the combination of the Towpath and the Olde Muskingum Trail from Massillon to Canal Fulton. Most trails are simple out and backs, but using both trails allows you to put variety into your ride. … The towpath has several trailheads from Massillon to Canal Fulton, and if you do not want to ride the full round trip of about 16 miles, trailheads serve as natural places to turn around. This section of the Towpath is quite popular and can be crowded. So slow down and check out the turtles, ducks, chipmunks and other critters that live along the trail.”
>> Dennis U.: “I have been riding the Sippo Valley Trail from Massillon to Dalton nearly every week for the past five years. … The trail starts and ends in urban areas with plenty of local access at a variety of trailheads. In the middle, it is all farmland as far as you can see. This can be very scenic during the spring and fall with the splendid colors. The trail interfaces with a few creeks along the way providing lots of wildlife to view. The tree canopies keep the trail shaded during the summer months.”
>> Gary F.: “Towpath Trail has nice wooded, farmland and towns to enjoy. Always nice to enjoy ice cream at the Blue Heron or the Creamery on the trail in Canal Fulton.There are many trailheads to start from. Sippo Valley Trail is very nice, as most of it is paved. Nice place to start from is the Bison Burger and grab something to eat after your ride.”
>> Dave C. and Paul T.: “We ride a tandem and like the West Branch Trail and the Middlebranch Trail. They are a nice relief from the traffic on the roads but really in the city.”
Many of the favored trails in Stark County are maintained by Stark Parks District, club members noted, and are kept in good condition year-round. Still, almost all of the members who responded to the request for their favorite trails also favored financially supporting Stark Parks, so it could continue broadening the recreational opportunities for area bicyclists.
That’s part of their mission, Stark Parks says at its website.
“At Stark Parks, our trails are scenic and paved with crushed limestone. Find a trail close to home or venture out to a new one you’ve never been before. With over 100 miles to choose from—including 26 miles of the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail—you’re sure to find a trail that fits you.”