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The Suburbanite
  • Postcard from Canton: Stark Electric Railway Trail follows well-traveled route

  • This is no wilderness hike. It’s not even close to a walk in the park. Still, there is a certain urban charm to the mile-long trail, which stretches out parallel to Mahoning Road NE, from Hilcher Avenue to Kirby Avenue, along the former Stark Electric Railway trolley route.

     

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  • Motor vehicles roll by a few feet away from the Stark Electric Railway Trail.
    This is no wilderness hike. It’s not even close to a walk in the park. And the surface, all concrete and macadam, is not as friendly to the feet as a walking track.
    Still, there is a certain urban charm to the mile-long trail, which stretches out parallel to Mahoning Road NE, from Hilcher Avenue to Kirby Avenue, along the former Stark Electric Railway trolley route.
    “This paved trail features ginkgo, crabapple, maple hawthorn, and honey locust with five rest areas at existing SARTA bus stops,” notes information at the website for Stark County Park District.
    Stark Parks and the city of Canton developed the trail more than a decade ago. Park representatives previously have said that the trail eventually could be part of a trail along state Route 153 linking Canton and Louisville, connecting to a trail that would stretch to Alliance.
    But that is years and much funding in the future. For now, the modest Stark Electric Railway Trail extends 1.15 miles along Mahoning — Route 153 — at the eastern edge of the city.
    It has been called a neighborhood trail, and indeed it can be accessed by northeast section neighborhoods that border Mahoning. But residential structures are not as prevalent as businesses along the trail. A dozen homes are grouped at one stretch, and five at another point, but mostly trail walkers pass stores and other businesses.
    Traffic signs, utility poles, commercial signs and a multitude of fire hydrants are other signs that walkers are striding through a city instead of strolling through a park. And walkers must watch for cars as they cross side streets.
    But this urban atmosphere should hardly be viewed as a deterrent. The cityscape provides plenty to see while on a hike or bike ride; the trail is open for both activities.
    It could be convenient for shopping, as well, if errands are combined with recreation. A pharmacy, grocery, discount store, auto parts store, barber shop and restaurant operate along the trail. A walker can even stop into Madge Youtz Branch of Stark County District Library.
    “CAUTION,” a sign on the trail says, adding “Congested Area” and “Traffic Crossing.”
    Sometimes we seek to get away from it all.
    Other times it’s just as enjoyable to walk through it, and soak in all its sights and sounds.