During the early 1960's, the Order of the Arrow Marnoc Lodge of the Akron Area Council, now known as the Great Trail Council, discussed the possibilities concerning the adoption of a specific trail located within the park system. By the fall of 1966, Marnoc Lodge organized a Trail Committee that worked with the Akron Metropolitan Park Service, who had jurisdiction of the park area at that time, to lay out and build the Cuyahoga Valley Trail. The trail received approval by the Activities Section of the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America on October 6,1966 and this 13.1 mile trail received approval from the National Park Service in May 1967. The Lodge has been responsible for the care and maintenance of this trail which has been extensively used by scouts and the general public ever since.
The Cuyahoga Valley has been inhabited by a sequence of Indian cultures. The Mound Builders were followed by the powerful Erie Tribe, later the Five Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy and the Seneca Tribe, a member of the Confederacy and the "Guardians of the Western Gate," under Chief Stigwanish. Named Cuyahoga (Crooked Jawbone) by the indians, the river was used as a major canoe route. By use of a short portage between the Tuscarawas and Cuyahoga Rivers, the Great Lakes were connected to the Gulf of Mexico by a network of rivers. Early settlers came from Connecticut to build homes on tracts of land purchased from the Connecticut Land Company of the Western Reserve. A 1785 treat with the indians established the western boundaries of the United States on the line formed by the Cuyahoga River, Portage Path, and the Tuscarawas River. In 1 825, the State of Ohio approved construction of the Ohio Canal, which was to run from Cleveland on the north to Marietta in the south. The canal was to follow the old river route used by the indians from Lake Erie to the Ohio River. Opened through the Peninsula area on July 4,1827, the canal became a major waterway for freight and packet boats traveling between the Great Lakes and the Ohio and Mississippi River Systems. Activities associated with the canal flourished for sixty years. By the turn of the century, the railroads had become a major competitor for freight and passenger traffic. The disastrous flood of 1 913, washed out huge sections of the canal in the valley and closed out the remnants of the waterway commerce. The Ohio Canal was never restored, but some parts remain to be viewed and appreciated.
The Cuyahoga Valley Trail or better known as the "OA Trail" winds in and around the Camp Manatoc Reservation which consists of Camp Manatoc and Camp Butler. This large 5OO acre camping area was donated by the great generosity of Akron Industrialist, Mr. H. Karl Butler. In 1923, he offered a sizeable tract of his summer home on Route 303 to the Akron scout council and Camp Manatoc was born. Some building was constructed and a small stream was dammed up to create a swimming hole. After a visit to a scout camp in California, Mr. Butler envisioned giving his farm and much of his world possessions to build a beautiful scout camp for boys in the Akron area. Accordingly, he began buying up land options of a number of farms around the area and as President of the Akron Area Council placed in his will that this land was to be dedicated to a scout camp.
Several years later in 1929, the Council Camping Committee led by Mr. P. W. Litchfield of Goodyear had the three rubber companies, Goodyear, Firestone and Goodrich pledge a total of $100,000 and two years later the citizens of Akron and the surrounding community raised an additional $142,000 during the depression to start this great project. The new camp began quickly and the center was moved further south nearer to Truxell Road in order to get water to the campsites. A dam was placed across Salt Run to form the six-acre Lake Marnoc, and several major building such as the dining hall, administrative building and sleep-in lodges were constructed. On the highest point of the camp, an elaborate semi-circular stone memorial with a one hundred foot high flag pole was erected in 1 931, by the Akron Lions Club, to the memory of H. Karl Butler who died on December 13,1926. On June 8, 1932, the camp was dedicated and eleven days later opened up for business. Later Camp Butler was added with additional larger lakes, one of which is named after Mr. Litchfield. Manatoc means "high plateau and Marnoc is the spirit that is said to dwell in the forest at Manatoc. Marnoc means "love of the out of doors".
Camping is accessible and encouraged on the Manatoc Reservation and in particular the Camp Butler sites. Tent sites are available for a very small cost at Camp Butler and some sections at Camp Manatoc. A weekend camping application and a small fee should accompany the Trail application if the unit wishes to stay overnight. As a suggestion, although the trail could be walked in one day, to add variety, leaders should encourage an overnight stay in Camp Butler practicing low-impact camping skills by backpacking their equipment with them. This will be a good learning experience and skills development for the hikers. This trail is a good "training" and a "get-in-shape" experience for much harder and longer trails down South and back West at Philmont.
If you or your unit wishes to attend Sunday services, there are Catholic and Protestant churches available in the town of Peninsula, approximately a mile and a half from the camp.
To make the adventure on the trail a positive scouting or hiking experience, it is suggested that:
To assist hikers on the trail, Marnoc Lodge has placed trail markers on trees and posts to make the trail easier to follow. The markers are scattered along the trail. Look for them. You can identify the markers as seen by the example below:
A beautiful five-color patch of several different sizes for sewing on camping backpacks or gear is available to those who complete the trail hike. This can be purchased at the Administration Building at Camp Manatoc from the Campmaster. Also available are, trail medals that can be worn on the right hand pocket of the Scout uniform and a coffee mug with the same patch design are also available for a nominal cost.
Additional request for information regarding the OA Trail and Manatoc Reservation should be addressed to: