While there are many parks, trails, green spaces, and river access points in Tuscarawas County, the Tuscarawas County Park Department currently only has jurisdiction over the following three sites:
- McDonnell Trailhead: SR-212, Bolivar, OH 44612
- Fort Laurens Museum: 11067 Fort Laurens Rd NW, Bolivar, OH 44612
- Canal Lands Park Trailhead: 8645 Dover-Zoar Rd., Zoar, OH 44697
Click here to view the Rules and Permits for the Canal Lands Park.
Canal Lands Park provides roughly 6 miles of crushed limestone surface trail along the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail from the Fort Laurens Museum to State Route 800.
- McDonnell Trailhead (at the Aqueduct Bridge off SR-212)
- Northern Section (Fort Laurens to Canal Lands Trailhead): 2.3 miles
- Southern Section (Canal Lands Trailhead to SR 800): 3.2 miles
The McDonnell Trailhead is located on the Tuscarawas County side of the Aqueduct Bridge off SR-212. The Aqueduct Bridge connects Tuscarawas and Stark County together, and once transported canal boats over the Tuscarawas River. From here, trail users should continue into the Village of Bolivar, making their way to Fort Laurens Museum.
The Northern section of Canal Lands Park takes you past Fort Laurens Museum (the site of Ohio’s only Revolutionary War fort), a modern bridge that takes you across I-77, Mile Markers 81-83, Locks 7-10, remnants of the old Zoar Dam, the Zoar Iron Bridge, and Historic Zoar Village – a National Historic Landmark! Be sure to visit the Zoar Wetland Arboretum if you’re in the area.
The Southern section of Canal Lands Park takes you past the Canal Lands Trailhead, under a railroad canopy and over boardwalks, and across SR 800 to the Old Zoarville Station Bridge (listed on the National Register of Historic Places) and Camp Tuscazoar. Camp Tuscazoar is home to miles of hiking trails, and an amazing set of mountain bike trails! They also offer primitive and RV camping.
The Tuscarawas County section of the Towpath Trail is also utilized by other trail systems. The Zoar Valley Trail, established by the Boy Scouts of America, continues south across SR 800 and into Camp Tuscazoar. The Buckeye Trail, maintained by the Buckeye Trail Association, is a loop that winds around the entire state of Ohio. The North Country National Scenic Trail follows our portion of the Towpath until it branches off at the Zoar Iron Bridge.
Activities you could enjoy at Canal Lands Park include: biking, bird watching, dog walking, hiking, horseback riding, and photography.
- Parking: McDonnell Trailhead (SR-212), Fort Laurens Museum (Fort Laurens Road NW) and Canal Lands Park Trailhead (Dover-Zoar Rd.)
- Restrooms: Fort Laurens Museum (flush) and Canal Lands Park Trailhead (portable)
There is a cell phone charging station at the Fort Laurens restroom, and the Canal Lands Park Trailhead contains a self-serve bike maintenance station. There are no trash/recycling receptacles along the trail (though they exist at the Canal Lands Trailhead).
If you see a Trailblazer during your visit, they will be more than happy to help or answer questions.
Map of the Canal Lands Park
The Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail
Travel along the path where, from 1827 to 1913, mules pulled canal boats laden with passengers and goods up and down the historic Ohio & Erie Canal. Today’s trail follows the historic towpath as closely as possible, the exact route determined by historic maps and remnants of the trail itself. Annually, more than 2.5 million Americans find their way to the iconic, soon-to-be 101-mile Towpath Trail running through the heart of the Canalway.
National Heritage Area
National Heritage Areas are designated by the National Park Service, and are places where historic, cultural, and natural resources combine to form cohesive, nationally important landscapes. Unlike national parks, NHA’s are large lived-in landscapes. The Ohio & Erie Canalway was designated by Congress in 1996, and offers opportunities to discover our canal history, as well as a myriad of interconnected places and stories from Cleveland through New Philadelphia.
- Conservation Loop/Red Barn: Conservation Drive, Dover, OH 44622
- Preservation Loop/Yellow Pole Barn: 4033 State Route 39 N.W., Dover, OH 44622
- Johnson Loop: Hidden Hollow Lane, Dover, OH 44622
Click here to view the Rules and Permits for the Norma Johnson Center.
In 1989, Norma Johnson donated 63-acres of land to the Tuscarawas County Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) becoming the Norma Johnson Conservation Center. After her death, her daughter Susan Covey followed through with her mother’s wishes and transferred 240-acres to the Tuscarawas County Commissioners in 1998 becoming the Norma J. Johnson Nature Preserve. In 2001, the Conservation Center and Nature Preserve, with similar goals and objectives, collaborated to create the Norma Johnson Center. In 2021, the Tuscarawas County SWCD transferred their 63-acres to the Tuscarawas County Commissioners.
This 303-acre Center offers over six miles of trails, fishing ponds, and more. The three big trails are the:
- Preservation Loop: 1.23 miles
- Johnson Loop: 1.31 miles
- Conservation Loop: 1.23 miles
Activities you could enjoy at the Norma Johnson Center include: bird watching, dog walking, hiking, and photography. Visitors can also enjoy an ADA-accessible trail that connects the Preservation Loop with the Conservation Loop. The Norma Johnson Center also hosts a wide variety of events and activities throughout the year.
- Parking: Conservation Drive Parking Lot, Preservation Loop Trailhead/Yellow Pole Barn (SR-39), and the Johnson Loop Trailhead (Hidden Hollow Lane)
- Restrooms: Conservation Drive Parking Lot (flush)
The Conservation section of the Norma Johnson Center offers a picnic shelter, and there is a limited mobility accessible dock located on the pond behind the Yellow Pole Barn on the Preservation side.
Map of the Norma Johnson Center
Norma Johnson was born on August 30, 1925 in the Brandywine Valley, and gave back to the community as a farmer, educator, artisan, and innovator. Norma understood the beauty and tranquility of natural areas, and noticed that the forests, meadows, and wildlife habitats were beginning to disappear from the area due to urban sprawl. She felt that “acres of trees, ponds, and wildlife would be most refreshing for people to wander over now and in the future.” With this vision, the 303-acre Norma Johnson Center Conservation Center and Nature Preserve came to be a place for future generations to ramble, reflect, learn, and enjoy.
Be sure to visit the Norma Johnson Display at the Yellow Pole Barn to learn more!
- Trenton Heritage Park: 3809 State Dam Rd. S.E., New Philadelphia, OH 44663
Click here to view the Rules and Permits for the Trenton Heritage Park.
Trenton Heritage Park, established in 2007, was so named to recognize the rich pioneer and canal history of the property. This region, formerly known as the Hilton Tract, was the site of the earliest settlements by Europeans into the Tuscarawas Valley in 1801. The town of Trenton was laid out in 1816, and this area would later become the home of the Trenton Feeder, which provided water to the Ohio & Erie Canal at the southern end of Lock #16.
Trenton Heritage Park’s 90+ acres serve as a local nature preserve and educational land lab. The diverse natural habitats provide excellent viewing for local flora and fauna. This park is accessible only via permit. Permits will be granted to utilize the park to conserve the natural and historic features of the area, and to promote education, preservation, and conservation.
Water Trails & River Access
At the above website, you will find the Eastern Ohio Streams Access – Tuscarawas River map.
Tuscarawas River Water Trail
The Tuscarawas River is a 130-mile long tributary to the Muskingum River. Beginning south of Akron, it flows through four counties before joining the Walhonding River near Coshocton. The water trail serves to promote outdoor recreation and increase awareness for safe paddling and healthy environments. The Tuscarawas River State Water Trail designation is a collaborative project between the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District, Rural Action, and many more partners that call the Tuscarawas River home.
The hand boat launch area at Canal Lands Park is located at River Mile 68.5 (40.606977, -81.424679). Leaving the trailhead, as you reach the Towpath Trail, turn right and cross the small bridge. Access to the river is on your left.
The Army Corps of Engineers note that when the water levels are above 872 ft. at Dover Dam, kayakers should exit the Tuscarawas River at the Canal Lands Park boat launch ramp in Zoar.