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Cuyahoga Valley National Park visitors should be on alert for flooding this week

At the Lock 29 trailhead in Peninsula, the Cuyahoga River often swells during spring's heavy rains and warmer temperatures. [Kabir Bhatia / WKSU]
At the Lock 29 trailhead in Peninsula, the Cuyahoga River often swells during spring's heavy rains and warmer temperatures.

Warmer temperatures and rain are predicted this week, and with lots of snow still on the ground, that could lead to flooding in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

The Cuyahoga River winds its way through much of the national park, often right alongside the Towpath Trail. And rain coupled with melting snow means the river could swell at points where it’s near the trail. CVNP spokeswoman Pamela Barnes says as the rain comes in, the park will assess whether to close all or part of the Towpath Trail.

“We really ask people to heed those closings. Don’t go around any barricades because it may look safe on the surface, but there be some instances of undercutting, where the integrity of the trail is compromised because of water rushing underneath. And it could be a very unsafe situation,” Barnes said.

She says there are several points to watch, where the Cuyahoga River is close to the Towpath Trail. One of them is near the scenic railroad depot in Peninsula, Lock 29.

“The course of the river was changed in the early days, when the railroad was constructed. So, the river wants to go straight through where the parking lot is, for access to the Towpath, because that was the way it historically went. So guess what? When it floods, that’s the way the river ends up going and floods the parking lot.”

Barnes adds that other flood-prone spots are near the Rockside Road depot in Valley View and in Brecksville where Chippewa Creek empties into the Cuyahoga.

For visitors, social media or the park’s closure phone line, 440-546-5960, are the best places to find out about conditions in the park. And if you see potential trouble spots, notify the CVNP Communication Center at 440-546-5945. When in doubt, Barnes reminds people to “Turn Around, Don't Drown.”

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