Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Located: Ohio - Established: October 11, 2000
The Park: Located between two major metropolitan cities, Akron and Cleveland, OH, Cuyahoga Valley National Park provides a respite from the daily dust cloud of activity that consumes many a city dweller. The park beckons you to get out of town. Albeit, the park is nestled in between many towns! Unlike the more remotely located western parks, Cuyahoga Valley is situated amongst a densely populated region.
One of the key features of this park is the Towpath Trail, which follows the Cuyahoga River for 19.5 miles. This historic route is wide, flat and hard-packed and follows the Ohio & Erie Canal route used years ago to transport people and goods from Cleveland to Portsmouth. The trail is ideally suited for people using wheelchairs, bicycles and strollers.
Ohio’s Buckeye Trail is over 1444 miles in length winding around the four corners of the state. A portion of it passes through Cuyahoga Valley NP and can be accessed from many of the park’s trails.
Getting there: Cuyahoga is a north-south oriented park with access from many directions. The distance from Cleveland to the Canal Exploration Center at the northern reaches of the park is about 13 miles. Driving from Akron to the Boston Store Visitor Center is a scenic 15-mile, half hour drive.
When to visit: The park is open year round with weather typical to four distinct seasons. Summers can be hot and humid. Winter conditions change rapidly. The park receives about 60 inches of snow annually. Spring brings out the blooming wildflowers, new foliage on the trees as well as a plethora of visitors. Fall is mild and brings splashes of color to the area.
What to do: There is plenty to do at this urban park including biking or walking the Towpath Trail or hiking about the park’s 125-mile trail system. Bird watching, canoeing and kayaking are also popular activities. As an alternative to hiking, take a nostalgic vintage train ride on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railway! The CVSR excursion takes in the entire length of the Park.
Don’t miss Brandywine Falls – Ohio’s 2nd tallest waterfall which cascades over a staircase-like series of sandstone shelves. The short trail leading down to Blue Hen Falls is well worth the hike. The trail along the towering sandstone Ritchie Ledges leads you through an otherworldly microenvironment resembling a journey to the center of the earth! At the far end of the loop trail the Ledges Overlook is a nice spot for observing the sun setting over the woodlands in the valley below.
Where to stay: The park features 5 primitive campsites located along the Towpath Trail. There are no overnight sites for RV’s within the park boundaries.
Lodging near the park is plentiful. Three very quaint Bed and Breakfast facilities include the Inn at Brandywine Falls where we stayed during our visit. Other local B&B’s include the Silver Fern Bed & Breakfast and the Stanford House.
Memorable Moments: Staying in the carriage barn suite known as the Granary at The Inn at Brandywine Falls, dining with Innkeepers Katie and George Hoy and sharing stories with the other guests serve as fond memories of our visit to Cuyahoga Valley.
Trivia: An uncommon yet popular activity at Cuyahoga is the art of Questing. Unlike geocaching, Questing does not require a GPS unit. Once you locate a Quest Box, you collect its unique stamp, sign the logbook and put it back for others to discover.
Banner: Colorful display of flowers near Brandywine Falls.
Experience these Check List:
- Stop by the Boston Store Visitor Center and the Canal Exploration Center
- Walk, run or bike the Towpath Trail
- Visit Brandywine Falls
- Explore the Richie Ledges
- Walk through the Everett Covered Bridge
- Learn about Questing