East Rim Trail
Mountain bike trails are coming to Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP)! This new system of trails is being added to the eastern edge of CVNP, flanking the areas north and south of Interstate 80. When completed, mountain bikers and hikers will have nearly 10 new miles to explore.
The East Rim Trail project is part of the TRAILS FOREVER initiative to preserve, protect, and enhance the trails of Cuyahoga Valley National Park. TRAILS FOREVER is a partnership of the National Park Service, the Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park, and park volunteers. Together, we're creating a world-class trail system in CVNP.
What's Happening Now:
December 6, 2016
The 4.5-mile outer loop of East Rim Phase 2 (north of I-80) remains under construction. The weather has been good the past few months, allowing park trail crews and volunteers to complete a "rough cut" of the outer loop and install most of the trail tread. So what still remains to be done? Edge work, special trail features, grade-dip hardening, and three bridges need to be installed prior to completion. The opening date of the new trail section is still TBD, although we anticipate it may open in early 2017.
The final trails in the East Rim system will include an inner line on Phase 2, as well as a bouldering route off of the existing trail. Pending grant funding being sought by the Conservancy for CVNP, we hope to complete all of Phase 2 next year.
We want to continue to thank the dedication of the CAMBA volunteers who are continuing to provide their expertise on the trail construction. If you are hoping to ride the trail this fall or winter, please remember to always check the East Rim Trail status before heading out, as riding on wet trails can seriously damage the trail tread. Up-to-date trail status can be found at twitter.com/CVNPmtb.
August 19, 2016
Phase 2 of the East Rim Trail is underway! Alex Stewart of Spectrum Trail Design is back in the valley working on the next section of East Rim Trail system this summer. The new 4.5-mile outer loop is now under construction and will continue through this summer and fall.
A roughed-in section of Phase 2 on the East Rim Trail (NPS Photo)
With over half the loop already "roughed in," NPS & contracted trail crews are now dogging the big storms from last week and continuing to rough in the trail. After the ground dries, crews will smooth the rough trail out to allow volunteers to begin the hand-work finishing.
Working on the new trail sections with specialized trail equipment (NPS Photos)
The Cleveland Area Mountain Biking Assocation (CAMBA) has had a few work weekends and will continue to support the finishing of the trail. Look for volunteer opportunities to help finish the outer loop. Thanks to all who are helping make the second phase of this trail a reality!
June 22, 2016
Plans are starting to take shape for the next section of the East Rim Trail, measuring almost seven miles. The trail design contains a main outer loop, with an inner line connector trail. NPS staff and contractor crews are still determining the flow of traffic and other details.
Currently, trail crews are staging materials and preparing the site for construction, which will begin in earnest this summer. Depending on weather, the outer loop is planned to be complete later this fall, and the inner line in 2017.
Photo of East Rim Trail by Alex Stewart
Funding for this next East Rim section comes from a $120,700 Recreational Trails Program grant, which the Conservancy secured from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). Additional funding comes from Knight Foundation and NPS centennial funds.
In addition, volunteers from the Cleveland Area Mountain Biking Association (CAMBA) are already working on a short expert section off of the existing trail. The 0.3-mile expert line will take experienced mountain bikers through a rocky, bouldering section. Completion on this trail segment is still to be determined, depending on how construction on the new seven-mile section goes this year.
We’re grateful to ODNR and Knight Foundation for funding this project, as well as to the dedicated CAMBA volunteers who are helping to make the full East Rim Trail a reality—we couldn’t do it without you!
November 9. 2015
CVNP received funding for the next phase of the East Rim mountain biking trail today! Many thanks to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for their generous $120,700 grant for design, engineering, and construction on this exciting project. In addition to the 2.3 miles already open, the next section of the trail (due for completion in 2016-17) will measure approximately 7 miles. We can't wait! More from ODNR >
CVNP Superintendent Craig Kenkel, Conservancy CEO Deb Yandala, and ODNR Director James Zehringer celebrate the next phase of the East Rim Trail project
November 2, 2015
Cuyahoga Valley National Park's first mountain biking trail is now open!
This first 2.3-mile section of the East Rim Trail system gives mountain bikers, hikers, and runners a challenging new trail to explore. Designed to follow the natural topography of the valley, the trail passes through dense woodlands and open meadows.
CVNP is now one of the few national parks in the country with mountain bike trails. When complete, the full East Rim Trail system will measure nearly 10 miles and connect to a system of bike trails over 100 miles long.
Construction has already begun on the next phases (including a short “expert” section) and will continue as weather permits through the fall and into next year. Under-construction trail sections remain closed to the public.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
- Where do I access the trailhead? The East Rim Trail is accessible from the Summit Metro Parks Bike & Hike Trail, just north of the trailhead on Boston Mills Road. Map >
- When can I use the trail? Daily, the trail will be open from 6:00 a.m. until 11:00 p.m. for bikers and as posted for other trail users. In wet weather, the trail will be closed to all users to prevent damage.
- Where can I check the current trail status? Trail conditions will be monitored daily by volunteer trail stewards and posted on CVNP’s Twitter account @CVNPmtb, the alerts section of nps.gov/cuva, and posted signs at the trailhead.
- What direction should I ride or hike on the trail loop? To minimize resource impact and create different trail experiences, the direction of bike travel will alternate each day (counter-clockwise on Mon-Wed-Fri-Sun, clockwise on Tues-Thurs-Sat). Hikers are encouraged to travel in the opposite direction of bike travel.
- Why can't I ride or hike in wet weather? Biking, running, and hiking on wet trails can cause ruts and footprints that would take hours to repair back to a smooth riding surface. Closures and the direction of travel will be enforced, so be a good trail steward and follow posted signage on the trail.
The East Rim Trail system is part of the TRAILS FOREVER initiative to preserve, protect, and enhance the trails of our national park. TRAILS FOREVER is a partnership of the National Park Service, the Conservancy, and CVNP volunteers. Funding for the East Rim Trail project was secured through National Parks Centennial Challenge funding of $183,000, matched by the Conservancy for CVNP with $198,000 from a John S. and James L. Knight Foundation grant.
See you out on the trails!
Photos by NPS/DJ Reiser
October 20, 2015
The first phase of the East Rim mountain biking trail system is nearly complete! Most of the final work will take place at this weekend's Day of Service in honor of Make a Difference Day, the largest single day of volunteering in the United States. Final jobs will include hand work to smooth out trail edges and clean everything up in preparation for mountain bikers and hikers. The National Park Service is also work on a final operations plan and administrative details to make sure the trail can open safely.
Thanks to all who joined us for the trail open house earlier this month! If you'd like to volunteer on Make a Difference Day, sign up with the Conservancy here.
Checking out the trail tread on the first phase of the East Rim mountain bike trail system (Photos: NPS/DJ Reiser)
October 8, 2015
Members of the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) have been busy working on the East Rim Trail for the past couple weeks, performing final hand work on several sections. They've completed work to naturalize the trail by smoothing, leveling, and removing invasive Phragmites, also known as common reed. The team also installed strategic armored drainage systems to prevent erosion and trail flooding.
AmeriCorps team members on the East Rim Trail with Ranger Becky Schmaltz (Photos: NPS/DJ Reiser)
September 17, 2015
The East Rim Mountain Bike Trail is getting closer to completion! Crews are about 3/4 of the way done with machine work on the first phase of the trail, which will be about 2.5 miles total. The next step is to clean up trail edges and pull in leaf litter by hand. When this phase of the trail is complete, crews will move on to Phase 2 and the next seven miles of the trail. Again, many thanks to our friends from CAMBA who have helped during several weekend and weekday volunteer sessions!
Clearing out rocky sections of the trail to make way for a smooth, sustainable mountain biking trail (Photos: NPS)
September 3, 2015
The recent rains have helped compact the trail and test the new drainage systems, which appear to working well! Most recently, National Park Service (NPS) crews finished framing an 80-foot boardwalk for the East Rim Trail. In the photos below, you can see the slight angle of the top of the boardwalk, which allows for better traction. The full boardwalk will be completed with volunteers or as a "rainy day" project for the crew.
Creating the frame for the 80-foot boardwalk along the East Rim Trail (Photos: NPS)
Last weekend, the Cleveland Area Mountain Bike Association (CAMBA) returned for another work session, finishing up additional sections of the trail with final handwork. In the coming weeks, trail crews will be working on several trail segments by hand to work around rockier outcroppings.
August 27, 2015
The first phase of the East Rim mountain bike trail is about halfway done! As crews work on the trail, they're making sure it’s as sustainable as possible. One example is their use of natural stormwater management, which is the use of non-structural design elements to manage stormwater quality, quantity, and its flow.
For instance, “reverse grade dips” are subtle grade changes that allow the water to exit the trail. Many thanks to volunteers from the Cleveland Area Mountain Bike Association (CAMBA) for their support last weekend!
Illustrations from the 2013 CVNP Trail Management Plan (NPS)
August 13, 2015
Work continues! The trail crew is about a mile into the East Rim Trail construction. The NPS crew has also finished a bridge crossing over a ravine and is now staging material for reverse-grade dips (i.e., small reversals in the overall trail slope, used to check speed and improve drainage) and hardened crossings, which use flat, hard stones for more efficient and sustainable stormwater drainage.
The trail is ready for installation of the hardened crossings, with some additional work to finish the edges and tread. Heavy rains last weekend had little impact the the tread (just what we want!) and the natural stormwater management is working great. Stay tuned for more updates!
NPS trail crew members working on the ravine bridge crossing; limestone to be used for hardened crossings, which help remove water from the trail more sustainably
August 4, 2015
Dry weather has been making it tricky for the East Rim trail crew to work on the steeper, trickier sections of trail because of the powdery, dusty ground, so we're hoping for some rain this week! The crew continues to make "rough cuts" for the trail, following the route determined by the Trail Plan and following the contours of the ground as needed.
A "rough cut" is the crew's first pass on the trail route. After removing larger trees and obstacles, they use specialized, narrower mountain bike trail equipment to cut a path in the ground. This initial pass defines the route, but it leaves relatively rough edges and loose earth in its wake. Later, the crews will return to smooth the edges, hard-pack the trail, and define the trail edges with leaf litter and strategically placed fallen trees.
A "rough cut" section of the trail (note the uneven edges and loose earth), compared with a finished section
July 28, 2015
The trail crew is putting the finishing touches on the first segment of trail. Despite some equipment troubles, they've worked hard to refine the trail tread and clean up the edges of the trail, replacing the leaf cover and smoothing things out.
Pulling leaf litter back onto the completed trail edges; a finished section of trail (Photos: NPS)
Next, the crew will work on the large hill toward the back of the trail route, cutting into the steeper bank and establishing the trail tread on this trickier path.
Specialized equipment make way for the new trail on the side of a steeper hill (Photos: NPS)
July 23, 2015
Work has officially begun on the new off-road bicycle trail! Over the past few weeks, the CVNP trail crew has been busy preparing the site, removing invasive species, clearing obstacles, and getting equipment and access trails in place.
This week, we welcomed professional trail builder Alex Stewart of Spectrum Trail Design to the park to get started in earnest. So far, the weather has cooperated beautifully, and we’re already starting to see the new trail emerge.
At left: A trail crew member beginning to blaze the off-road bicycle trail using specialized equipment. At right: Crew members clear debris from the anticipated path beneath a canopy of trees. (Photo: NPS)
This first section of the trail will be just over two miles long. Later this fall and early in 2016, the next phase of trail construction will begin, adding another 6.5 miles to the trail system. The crew got started breaking ground on that first section just a few days ago. After so much rain, we got a break in the weather this week with sunny days and even some cooler temperatures.
Prior to the actual groundbreaking, NPS staff spent time meticulously laying out the trail path and then pinflagging its location to guide the work. It was also important to conduct cultural and natural resource surveys to comply with federal laws.
Finally, when everything was in place, the last step before construction began was to remove fallen trees and clumps of autumn olive (an invasive species) that clogged the flow of the trail.
In the weeks to come, we’ll be talking with the trail crew to learn more about their special equipment—for instance, how exactly do you go about making that skinny, single-track trail?—and what they love about their jobs. Stay tuned!
June 24, 2015
This month, the NPS Invasive Crew cleared the trail corridor of invasive species, making way for the eventual trail construction and crews. The trail crew has also begun staging materials & identifying access routes to the trail.
In mid-July, construction will begin in earnest. Professional trail builder Alex Stewart of Spectrum Trail Design will begin work with the NPS Trail Crew to start construction on the first 2.3-mile phase of the trail system. Volunteers from the Cleveland Area Mountain Biking Association (CAMBA) will help with construction and maintenance. Construction for the second 6.5-mile phase of the trail will begin in fall of 2015 and continue in 2016. Thanks to all of the staff, volunteers, and funders who are contributing to this exciting project!
In CVNP's recently completed 2013 Trail Management Plan, it was clear that a mountain bike trail was one of the park's next important trail projects. Despite their popularity in northeast Ohio, mountain bike trails didn't exist in CVNP. With more than 100 miles of robust hiking trails already in place, a system of mountain bike trails in the national park was the next step toward a world-class trail system.
Planning and design for the East Rim Trail began in 2014. Distributions from the TRAILS FOREVER Legacy Fund funded the expertise of a national mountain bike trail consultant, who evaluated the corridor for the new off-road bike trail. A location was identified and ideal route drawn up, covering 8.8 miles on the "east rim" of the national park. After a public comment period, design began in earnest.
Park staff conducted archeological and natural resource surveys along the route to comply with federal laws, which were submitted and approved in late 2014. Following that work, the early months of 2015 were consumed with final route-planning and compliance.
In the spring of 2015, staff "pin-flagged" on the trail, marking its path with small flags every five to 15 feet. During pin-flagging, trail crews use special tools to measure the angle of slope (see photo at right), which helps them create a smooth trail and minimize erosion.
In January 2015, the Conservancy received a generous $249,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation for trail construction in CVNP, part of which was designated for the East Rim project. Then, in April 2015, the National Park Service awarded $183,400 in matching funds for the trail project.
This grant is part of the National Park Service's Centennial Challenge. Along with Yellowstone, the Grant Tetons, and many other iconic national parks, CVNP will celebrate 100 years of our national parks with exciting new projects like the East Rim Trail.
This project is just one more way that Conservancy members and TRAILS FOREVER donors leverage support for our national park—thank you!
Photos and trail map: NPS