Towpath Trail

568-570 S River Rd.
Waterville , OH 43566

419-407-9700   |
Daily 7 a.m. until dark

The Miami & Erie Canal in Northwest Ohio

The Towpath Trail is a historical path that takes visitors through three Toledo metroparks, offering an experience of the area’s canal heritage and natural history.

The Towpath Trail was once used as a path for mules as they pulled canal boats along the Miami and Erie Canal. Construction of the canal began in 1825, and once it was completed in 1845 it connected Lake Erie in Toledo to the Ohio River in Cincinnati. Towns along the canal prospered, and Ohio gained new markets for shipping goods along the canal systems. Travel became more efficient along the canals, contributing to changing demographics and population growth in canal towns. The canal era fostered much of the nation’s development through out the mid-nineteenth century, but the canals’ existence was relatively short lived. Construction of railroad systems across the country ushered in a new era of industry, and the canals quickly became outdated. After years of decline in travel along the Miami and Erie Canal, the destruction caused by the Flood of 1913 was viewed by the state to be too great to repair. The canal lands became eyesores along the Maumee River, as the public often used the canals as dumping grounds, and old canal structures began to decay. As the Great Depression hit the nation, people in the Toledo area were greatly affected. Jobs were destroyed and families struggled to make ends meet. At the same time, the state was facing the decision of what to do with the old canal lands. The community rallied around the idea of preserving and developing them into metroparks. Resources for the project came out of programs created under the New Deal, and brought jobs to Northwest Ohioans. Many of the Toledo Metroparks were developed on old Miami and Erie Canal lands, with old canal structures preserved and maintained as features of the parks. The Towpath Trail was preserved to showcase canal history. Today, the trail connects three of Toledo’s Metroparks along its path.

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Notes for Travelers

The Towpath Trail acts as a guide to the area’s canal heritage, following the path of the Old Miami and Erie Canal. The trail is 9.1 miles along the Maumee River through Farnsworth, Bend View, and Providence Metroparks. Each park, with its own cultural landscape, offers a unique experience. Along the path, visitors can see old canal locks and natural features and enjoy scenic views of the Maumee River.

Additional Resources

The Transition: A Tale of Northwestern Ohio, George W. Pearson.

Conservation and the Gospel of Efficiency: The Progressive Conservation Movement, 1890-1920, Samuel P. Hayes.

Canals for a Nation: The Canal Era in the United States. 1790-1860, Ronald E. Shaw.