Portage Bike and Hike Trail Connects Communities, Provides Recreational Opportunities

The Portage Bike and Hike Trail will connect Kent,
Ravenna, Kent State University, Brady Lake, Franklin
and Ravenna Townships.  

Why not make the most of our generous Northeast Ohio snow by trying your hand at cross-country skiing on the PORTAGE Hike and Bike Trail? Or if the snow has lost its charm and you prefer to dream of a spring bike ride to the center of the Kent Campus without having to travel on busy streets, then the PORTAGE still will suit your recreational needs.

Thanks to the cooperative efforts between Kent State University, the cities of Kent and Ravenna, the Portage County Commission, the Townships of Ravenna and Franklin, and the Portage Park District, the PORTAGE Hike and Bike Trail is emerging as a dedicated pedestrian/bicycle pathway connecting Portage County communities, while serving as a key east-west link between major hike and bike trails in Summit and Trumbull counties. Some segments of the PORTAGE are completed and other segments are now under development.

Because the PORTAGE is an all-season trail, its dedicated pathway provides cross-country skiers and other winter sports enthusiasts extra recreational options over the length of the trail this winter. Come spring, the bike riders and hikers will be out in full force.

Thomas Clapper, General Manger, Kent State University Transportation Services, said, “The PORTAGE will provide citizens with safe, scenic recreation and unique commuting opportunities while stimulating local business and tourism. We are working with area communities to create a better living environment.”

The PORTAGE showcases a diversity of community destination such as the Kent State campus, parks, schools and stadiums, historic canal remnants, Native American trails, the Cuyahoga National Heritage River, theatres, downtown businesses and spectacular natural areas. Clapper explained that the PORTAGE connects our communities and improves our quality of life by:

  • Promoting family recreation;
  • Strengthening our economy;
  • Protecting our environment; and
  • Encouraging healthy activity.

A three-mile segment of the PORTAGE Hike and Bike trail was completed this past summer linking Towners’ Woods to the City of Ravenna. This segment is being extended an additional one-mile eastward this summer. Various grants are pending as a result of cooperative efforts by Kent State University, City of Kent, Franklin Township Trustees and the Portage County Commissioners. One grant application, if accepted, would complete a link between downtown Kent to west of the Cuyahoga River at Tannery Park.  Another project pending grant approval is to complete the PORTAGE from Loop Road eastward to Horning Road where it would connect with planned trail segment along Horning Road and to a pedestrian/bicycle bridge over State Route 261.

Kent State University, in partnership with the Portage County Commissioners, has secured a federal transportation enhancement grant to construct a pedestrian/bicycle bridge over State Route 261. “State Route 261 is a major hurdle facing the PORTAGE.  The bridge is a huge step forward for the PORTAGE,” said Clapper.

Portage County Commissioner Chris Smeiles is a big supporter of the PORTAGE Hike and Bike Trail. “The PORTAGE meets a clearly expressed want and need for our county. This effort demonstrates the value of communities including the university, to work together in service for all constituents,” said Smeiles.

Portage Park District director, Christine Craycroft said, “The PORTAGE Hike and Bike Trail will initially connect Kent, Ravenna, Kent State University, Brady Lake, Franklin and Ravenna townships with approximately 13 miles of asphalt and crushed limestone trail.  The PORTAGE will be comprised of a variety of trail segments offering something for all ages, abilities and interests.”

Charley Bowman, City of Kent Community Development Director sees the PORTAGE Hike and Bike Trail as an important link between the university and downtown Kent.  “During the city of Kent’s Comprehensive Planning process, citizens expressed the strong desire for pedestrian and bicycle orientation as a top priority for our community.  The PORTAGE, in cooperation with the Kent State University Esplanade provides new opportunities to revitalize the historic downtown and recreational access to the Cuyahoga River,” said Bowman.

Just as the Towpath Hike and Bike System is bringing extraordinary benefits to the area, The PORTAGE Hike and Bike Trail is a superior trail system connecting Portage County and the university to an expanding network of trails throughout Northeast Ohio and beyond.

The PORTAGE Hike and Bike Trail development is guided by Christine Craycroft, Portage Park District; John Idone, City of Kent Park and Recreation; Kathy Hammonds, City of Ravenna Parks Department; and Tom Clapper, Kent State University. They meet regularly with local, state and federal officials on this effort. Currently, they are working with Congressman Tim Ryan in securing long-term federal funding to complete the entire 13-mile segment of the first phase of the PORTAGE and to begin planning for the final segment crossing Portage County eastward to Warren.

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