Headwaters Trail


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Headwaters Trail Facts

States: Ohio
Counties: Portage
Length: 8 miles
Trail end points: Windham St. (Garrettsville) and Mennonite Rd. at Mantua Center Rd. (Mantua)
Trail surfaces: Crushed Stone
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6016672
Trail activities: Bike, Horseback Riding, Mountain Biking, Walking, Cross Country Skiing

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Headwaters Trail Description

The bucolic Headwaters Trail is a pleasant 8-mile journey through the rural landscape between Mantua and Garrettsville. The path has a crushed-stone surface and is mostly shaded. It follows the route of the old Cleveland-Mahoning Railroad line and is a scenic escape for hikers, cyclists and horseback riders.

Parking and Trail Access

Parking is available at Garrettsville Village Park (just east of Windham Rd.), on State Route 700 north of Hankee Road and Mantua Village Park.

Headwaters Trail Reviews

This is a very pleasant trail. Most of it is wooded and shaded. Crushed limestone path in very good condition. Passes through some state nature preserve areas. Generally flat grade throughout. There's a restroom roughly halfway between Mantua and Garretsville. Nice change of pace from busier places like the towpath.

I rode almost 18 miles on an out-and-back on the Headwaters Trail between Mantua and Garrettsville, Ohio. The Headwaters Trail is so named as it covers some of the area that is considered some of the source of the waters that eventually make up the Cuyahoga River. It is a nice shaded trail that is very flat. This trail is about a 20 minute car ride from where I live and I usually ride it several times a year. The trail impressed me today because it was in the best condition I’ve ever seen it in, especially considering that it is a crushed stone surface. There are a number of interesting sights along the way including a few historical markers that I had not seen before.

If you decide to ride this trail consider riding The Esker Trail which is accessible from the Headwaters Trail west of St. Rte. 44 in Mantua. This short trail runs atop a glacial ridge or esker south of the town of Mantua. This ridge ran between the Cuyahoga River and the a large swamp in Marsh Wetlands State Nature Preserve. This trail was passable but I would not recommend it for a street bike. The nature preserve that this short trail runs in is pretty and there are several observation decks with benches to enable one to take in the scenery. If you have a mountain bike or a bike with wider tires this short diversion would be worth a look.

Currently, the Headwaters Trail is sort of in the middle of no where, but if Portage County would move to extend this trail in both directions it could attract a lot of riders. On this Sunday morning there were a number of cyclists, runners, pedestrians and dog walkers out on what turned out to be a beautiful day.

I recommend parking behind the McDonalds in Mantua. We rode to Garretsville and had lunch at the Garrettsville Tavern and brewery, it was delicious. In March of this year a portion to the west of Mantua opened. Not sure how far it goes so we will try that new trail next.


we are visitors from Montana looking for rail trails since we have very few in our area. this was a nice trail with minimal grades and abundant shade. the logging that was occurring adjacent to the trail was not a problem. there was unknown scat on the trail that could havebeen a bear... we did find it difficult to find the trailhead in Mantua and ended up parking behind Mcdonald's. the signage in town was too small and not obvious.

Our family uses this trail on a regular basis for both hiking and biking. It is nicely shaded, so offers relief from the hot sun in the summer. The autumn colors are just wonderful. There are several nice views of the river, and a small waterfall along the way. Most of the trial is crushed limestone, and fairly level. (Might be challenging for skinny tires.) There are a few spots that are a bit rough, but nothing that would cause much concern. Midway, there is a short hiking loop off the main trail that takes you in closer to the bog area with an observation platform. The trail is not overly busy, so you can feel quietly connected to nature while out there. It is slightly over 8 miles from Garrettsville to Mantua. There are 3 places to enter the trail; Garrettsville, Rt 700, and Manuta. While in Garrettsville, it is fun to ride a short distance into the town, and enjoy a coffee and snack at the Cellar Door Coffee Shop at the end of Main St, in the old feed store. There is also a Dairy Queen in town which is a favorite stop. Of course, if the library is open, it can provide a great rest stop too. While in Mantua, you might want to plan to enjoy a picnic lunch in the park, or there is a new ice cream shop on Main St, as well as a McDonalds, but don't miss a stop at Jakes Eats. This little restaurant is a village favorite, not far from the trail, on Prospect St and offers a nice variety of items at a reasonable price. If biking or hiking in early to mid July, you might want to plan a stop at Wolff's Blueberry farm. It is located very near the trail at the Rt 700 parking area. This is a You-Pick farm, and might be a great way to end your visit. Going home with a bag of fresh blueberries after a day on the Headwater Trail is a perfect day in my book!

Rode this Trail during the week on 7/28/16. Very hot day but this trail offered a lot of shade which was awesome! Also all gravel trail adds a little Mountain bike trail feel. Overall awesome!

This was the perfect balance of easy off-road - family biking. This trail is perfect for a scorching 90+ degree day because it is shaded perfectly. There is no incline or decline just a steady keel. My husband prefers a more intense rooted bumpy course and I am less extreme. We both enjoyed this 16 mile trip. Good exercise and fun for all.

This is my go to training trail, ride it any where from one to three times a week. I ride a gravity bullseye monster phat bike. 4" dia.tires on a mountain bike frame surface is not a problem would not like to ride this with a road bike. Hybrids, comfort and beach crusiers would have no problem at all. 90% of the trail is flat and smooth there are a few small grades at the limeridge road and asbury road trail heads. The longest rough spot in the trail is the shared driveway portion west of the state route 700 trail head. This is a great trail for building your riding endurance low traffic volume good terrain for getting your cadance and spin going. Round trip from the park in Garrettsville to five corners is right at 16 miles . lots of shade and woods and streams to view. Would love to see this trail extended to Aroura.

The trail is decent for a casual stroll or even a jog. Not a good trail for a road bike with small tires. I rode my mtn bike on it yesterday and it was a decent ride. No hills of any mention, pretty much just a flat unpaved surface for about 8 miles. Scenery was nothing spectacular though there are a couple of nice water-related views.

I'd ride it again for variety, but it certainly would not be my first choice.

This is a nice little trail. Just under 8 miles (quite short for me ) but things are going to change . There are some rougher areas but this will be addressed in the near future. Plans are on the table to extend this trail to the west from Mantua to Aurora and in the east from Garrettsville to Hiram making this a trail with some distance .

Awesome trail love it, bring the bug spray though as most of trail is shaded. Love it.

My sister, son, and I rode bike from Mantua to Garrettsville Labor Day 2014. We rode about 13 miles.

Most of the path is crushed gravel. A few places are overgrown with grass or are somewhat mossy and slippery. One 100-yard or so stretch had larger gravel. We had basically commuter bikes with medium tires and didn't have any problems, but could be a problem for skinny tire bikes.

The path is quiet and peaceful. Mostly wooded. We saw a few people, but had quite a few stretches to ourselves.

A few nice scenic spots --- remains of a mill and spillway, the waterfall, and two rocks commemorating the railway (one for a railway heist and one for an accident).

You have to cross roads in a few spots, but only one (Route 700) was busy. The approaches to the roads are a bit of a climb, but not bad. (Compared to the way the Bike & Hike to Akron used to be, with steep inclines, these were no big deal.)

Towpath is nicer because it's more kept up, longer, and no roads to cross, but we would definitely do this path again for short rides without the crowds.

I've taken several bicycle outings in NEOH - all were great - not this one. Go to Cuyahoga Valley NP or Maple Highlands.

I started the trail in Mantua and headed East. The trail is very bumpy, you constantly ride over large 2-3" rocks for the first 2 miles or so. It isn't pleasant. The path is like following a pickup truck's tracks (two skinny paths with grass between).

By the third mile it smoothed a bit but was still substandard terrain wise. I aborted the ride by mile 4.5 (where there was a parking area) and took country roads back to Mantua - as the road was at least paved.

I have an awesome mountain bike.

Aside: The trail is through woods. That isn't a bad thing. I'm just saying - don't expect countryside.

Overall: Needs upgrading

Here is a historically very special trail!... The state of Ohio's very last commuter train ran over this 66.2-mile Cleveland-Youngstown route until January 14th, 1977! And the train was run by freight railroad, Conrail, after most of the west end of its bankruptcy-inheirited Hoboken-Chicago Erie Railroad component was not absorbed into the Conrail system, but outright abandoned! First, some very interesting facts and figures, courtesy Googled "Ohio's Last Commuter Train" (Text and photos at this site just wonderful!). From Cleveland, Mantua was located at Milepost 29.7, and Garrettsville MP36.4. This former Erie, then Erie-Lackawanna (1960), and finally Consolidated Rail Corporation (4-1-76) line was double-tracked with CTC (Centralized Traffic Control), and its speed limit was as high as 83mph (!) at one time, then it dropped to 48mph by 1971-74. The line's last through train ran in 1980, a daily mixed train from N. Randall to Conway, PA. Towards abandonment in 1981, the signals were darkened and turned sideways. Locals from Cleveland ran out to Carlon Cement in Mantua Twp. until 1993. Our trail segment's track was removed in 1982, eastward to Girard. Now, my observations from this afternoon: The trail is on a noticeable uphill grade from Trail MP0 at Garrettsville to about MP5.0 (the watershed crest?), then it is flat or only very downhill to Mantua, then uphill again for the remaining 1.0 miles west from Mantua. The trail dead ends at a former highway underpass, 8.5 miles west of the Garrettsville trailhead. There are trail mileposts at MP0, 0.5, 1, 2, and 6. There is a wide and ever-changing variety of trail surfacing here, including that grass surface at the Garrettsville end. Otherwise, for about two miles at both ends of the trail, the surface is nice, smooth, worn down pulverized limestone on a "double-track" (2 defined traffic lanes with a grass median), which I always like best, for opposing bike traffic and for a real "railroad track" feel. The center miles of the trail are being ditched, and there are many parts where the trail base is down to 1-inch or even down to railroad ballast base in spots... Very uncomfortable riding! Somewhat unusual for Ohio trails, this one has the feel of the Great Allegheny Passage in Southwest PA... VERY isolated and remote forest, and 75% of the trail is nicely canopied over for a comfortable ride, even on an 85 degree day like today was. Railroad artifacts are confined to the west end. The Erie depot at Mantua is a realty office today. The station's crumbling asphalt platform from those commuter train days is still there, as is the light pole of one platform light. And that "Mantua" spelled out in concrete blocks beside the trackbed. The big bridge just east of the Mantua depot was removed, and was replaced with a nice trail bridge span. The north-south highway overpasses were all removed, and trail users now have to climb and cross the roads where those overpasses once stood. A few of those CTC concrete signal bases hide along the right-of-way; I saw one of them at MP4.2 from Garrettsville. Of particular significance is that plaque from the Erie train wreck of 7-14-1949, when a mile-long Meadville-Cleveland freight train's steam boiler blew up at 2:30am, mortally wounding all three members of its crew. That plaque is located at Mile 4.0 from Garrettsville, on a large boulder just west of the nearby road (former overpass) highway crossing. Last but not least, the most important part of your ride... Food and drink. Right adjacent to the trail, 0.3 miles west of the Garrettsville trailhead, you will find the "Save 4 Store." Burrito-style sandwiches and cold drinks abound here (Heat your burrito for 1 minute and 45 seconds). At the Mantua end, your friendly McDonald's is located right on the railroad grade, across the street from the Mantua depot. Yes, there is a Port-a-Potty at the Garrettsville trailhead, and that's it. This is a nice trail, not crowded, with scant traffic between the populated endpoints, even on today's Memorial Day holiday. I expected crowds. A few more users appeared towards the Garrettsville end towards evening. So enjoy the trail, and do keep in mind the significance of this route. Besides hosting Ohio's last commuter train, this railroad eastward, through northern Pennsylvania and New York State, was once also a gateway to New York City's Hoboken Terminal, as this Youngstown-Cleveland Erie "branch" line joined the Erie's Chicago-New York City main line (route of the first-class "Erie Limited" and pre-1970 Erie-Lackawanna "Lake Cities") not too far east of Garrettsville, at Leavittsburg, Ohio. Happy Trails! -Rich Ballash, Latrobe, PA 5-26-2014.

We started our trip at the State Route 700 parking area and proceeded east to Garrettsville. The trail is surrounded by beautiful wooded forests and there are quite a few places that the trail is elevated over water features. We stopped for lunch in Garrettsville at a brewery overlooking the water. Note that last spring nearly one side of the town burned down and there is a big push to rebuild. We had a very pleasant experience there.

We turned back west and completed the trail. There are some sections of this trail that could use a better markings, as it sometimes jogs a bit at each road intersection. My wife's hybrid non-shock did fine; I wouldn't use a road bike.

My husband and I love to hike this trail! The scenery is beautiful and it is truly comforting to feel engulfed in the wild.

Although we have only experienced over half of the entire route (starting in Garrettsville), the hills, ravines, and little waterfalls are nature at its' best.

And the "Big Rock" in the Hiram area is an educational glance at local history, the site of the 1949 train wreck.

We appreciate the hike and bike trail system so much.

It's really sad that such a great ride and great trail are so overshadowed by the town the trail head is in.

I decided to grab some breakfast in the Miller's Family Restaurant, because I love going to Mom and Pop places in these small towns. Service was horrible. They didn't want to wait on me. They wouldn't make eye contact. They were not happy to have my business. The "BLT Wrap" was inedible. Someone needs to be tried in The Hague for preparing that coffee. They had no milk or cream, just this non-dairy oil based creamer.

Next I needed some water, I go to the "That's the Spirit" beverage store. Grab my water, go the counter and give him my card, he says it has to be cash. I ask if that's for all orders, thinking they may have a $20 minimum for card purchases, which I would have happily done, grabbing a few Microbrew 6 packs or something. He starts cursing at me and tells me to lose weight.

Trail is good. Town ruined my day off. The trail isn't good enough to undo that.

absolutely a beautiful trail. a wonderful ride. will defiantly ride again hope they continue to extend the trail. although I was disappointed that the ones on horses don't have respect for others using the trail by keeping the horses on the grass. they have gone down the gravel and made the trail like a washboard in some areas and not to mention left some "exhaust" behind on the trail. I love to see people riding horses and enjoy it myself but that's why the trail is so wide so the horses can go along the side and not mess it up for the hikers and bikers. but over all it was a very beautiful ride and I enjoyed it and loved the waterfall.

I saw the grassed-over Garretsville end and was expecting the worst. Surprisingly, only one very short section was grassy. The rest was well graded 6ft wide gravel. There were a few spots where it looks like they have some flooding problems - mostly near the road crossings closer to Mantua. We've had some heavy spring rains this year, but when I rode last weekend they had it smoothed out and I had no problems on my skinny tire hybrid.

The Mantua end is at the corner of Prospect and Mill St just east of downtown. There is a brick monument/flagpole, but no signs indicating parking. There is a gravel lot with room for about 10 cars right behind Mantaline Corp.

As the other review said, the trail is about 60-70% shaded and is pretty isolated. One short section in the middle shares a driveway for 2 houses. That's about the only civilization you'll see until you get to the factory in Garretsville. Trees are so thick most of the way that you can't even see the fields. The Save-4 store is right next to the trail in Garretsville if you need to refuel.

I was surprised to see two plaques along the trail. One denotes that the 'Mantua Swamp' is a National Natural Landmark. I grew up in Mantua and had never even heard of the swamp?!?!? The second plaque was on a big boulder near Asbury Rd.(I think). It commemorated the train wreck of 1914 that killed 3 crewmen.

No mile-markers, and only some of the roads had name signs. There was a port-a-potty at the Garretsville park, and I believe there is one at the Mantua Park which is very close to the Mantua Trailhead

While not the smoothest or best maintained trail that I've ever been on, it was quite rideable with a hybrid and I really enjoyed the heavy tree cover and isolation.

p.s. Sorry folks, no pics - I forgot my camera......MM

Surface is pretty well backed crushed stone and dirt. We were in the shade about 60-70% of the time- Mixed Hardwood forest. Colors will be spectacular in October. If you start at the Mantua end of the trail, use the town parking lot a little east of Rte 44 on a side street. Best not to try to ride to the extreme western end of the trail. It's rough. A very pleasant ride, very little traffic. Definitely a FAT TIRE bike trail. DER 9/7/09

"Nice trail running from Garrettsville to Mantua, although some areas are starting to ""grass over"". No facilities, but plenty of benches to stop and take a rest if needed. Very nice view overlooking the river on the Mantua end."

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