Foster Park, at one time known as Canoe Trails Park, sits on 3 acres of serene lawns and woods in Newton Township between the Mahoning River and the lightly traveled East River Road/Newton Falls Damascus Road, which also serves as Bicycle Route J. Though it is MetroParks’ smallest open park, Foster offers an abundance and charm and serenity. The pleasantly landscaped park offers a pair of shaded picnic tables and fire-rings, a portable lavatory, as well as the first river access point on the Mahoning River beyond the Lake Milton Dam. Visitors can park in one of the 16 spaces available or take their vehicle and trailer down a paved driveway to a canoe launch at the riverbank. The canoe launch leads up from the ramp to the picnic area. A paved pathway continues from the picnic area to an arched foot bridge before leading back into the main parking lot. Bicycle racks are also available.
MetroParks received its second park as a donation from the Trumbull Canoe Trails Club in 1984. At the time, the park was known as CanoeTrail Park in honor of the organization which had worked to raise funds for its acquisition. Several improvements were made throughout the mid 1980’s that included clearing existing scrub, installing a parking lot, building a small hiking trail, digging a small water well, and installing the river’s first canoe launch past the Lake Milton Dam. The projects were funded through the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Land and Water Conservation Fund grant. Since its original construction, the parking lot has been expanded, and the property features a portable lavatory. Route J was established along East River Road in Newton Township, delineating a network of bicycle-friendly roads between Marietta along the Ohio River and Conneaut on Lake Erie. The park was renamed in 2000 in honor of Mr. Preston Foster, who gave 14 years of volunteer service to the MetroParks and also served as a Park Board Commissioner as well as a member of the Trumbull Canoe Trails Club. With little change over the years, most of the land uses surrounding the park remain wooded, vacant, minimal commercial consisting of storage, and low-density rural residential.
Most park improvements are in good condition, including an arched wooden bridge, picnic tables, parking lots capable of holding 20 vehicles, a bicycle rack and the asphalt driveway which allows boaters to bring their watercraft from the parking lot to the river’s edge. A portable lavatory is also available at the site along with grills. The park continues to serve bicyclists along Route J, residents in NewtonTownship and its vicinity, as well as the starting point for the annual Trumbull Canoe Trails Mahoning River Color Run, an autumn foliage tour via water. One of the park’s few areas of concern is the existing canoe ramp, where asphalt gives way to railroad ties that descend into the water. The launch itself is uneven, steep, and at times quite slippery. The MetroParks’ maintenance staff addresses all issues, including the recent work to re-plank the footbridge. Services for refuse removal and lavatory cleaning are contracted out.