Cuyahoga Valley National Park is located in the northeastern part of Ohio of the United States. The park covers an area of 50.9 square miles (131.8 sq km). It was converted to a national park in the year 20000.
The park is situated along the Cuyahoga River between the cities of Akron and Cleveland making it convenient and easy for residents to escape into the wilderness.
Cuyahoga Valley is the only US national park that was originally recognized as a national recreation area. It is the only national located in Ohio. It joins Isle Royale National Park and Indiana Dunes National Park as the only three national parks located in the Great Lakes Basin.
The park is further unique with its combination of natural and historical man-made features. The park is also part of the Ohio and Erie Canal completed back in 1832. There is a Canal Exploration Center and structures connected to the actual canal.
The park features an array of natural features that include rivers and ravines, rolling hills, wetlands, and waterfalls while all being nestled in forests. There are a few different waterfalls with the tallest being Brandywine Falls with a plummet of 65-feet (20 m).
One of the things that make Cuyahoga Valley special is the amount of wildlife so close to urban areas. Many of the commonly sought-after sightings include beaver, coyote, fox, mink, muskrat, opossum, raccoon, skunk, and white-tailed deer.
This is also a great place for birdwatching. Bald eagles and peregrine falcons are two of the leading predator species. Canada geese and blue herons are two of the larger birds present in the park area.
One of the enjoyable activities is the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad which allows tours seasonally and during special events.
Cuyahoga Valley Highlights
The park is unusual compared to the majority of national parks spread out across the United States. For some, a highlight is being able to experience both the natural and man-made features of the park.
Brandywine Fall is the most popular waterfall in the park as well as the tallest. There are a collection of historical structures as well including Frazee House, Boston Store, Peninsula Depot, Everett Covered Bridge, Stanford House, Hale Farm, and features of the Ohio and Erie Canal.
Hiking Trails of Cuyahoga Valley National Park
There are several hiking trails that make exploring the national park an easy and enjoyable activity. Collectively, there are over 125 miles of trails traversing the park area. Here is a look at some of the available trails:
Towpath Trail: This is one of the most popular and well-known trails. It extends a distance of 21-miles (34 km) and is commonly used for hiking, biking, and jogging. During the winter months, it is used for skiing and sled-riding. Restrooms are available along the path.
Brandywine Falls Trails: There are two trails in this area. Stanford Trail takes about an hour to hike across the rocky hilled area. This portion of the trail extends a distance of 1.5-miles (2.4 km). The second portion is called the Brandywine Gorge Loop Trail: This loop is 1.4-miles (2.25 km) and takes about an hour to complete.
Ledges Trail: This trail takes a little over an hour to complete covering a distance of 2.6 miles (4.18 km). This trail gives access to caves that are currently closed to protect the bats. The trail extends another mile to incorporate the pine grove area.
Stanford House to Brandywine Falls Trail: This 3.8-mile (6.11 km) trail combines the historical facets of the Stanford House and the Brandywine Falls. This trail takes about two hours to complete.
Plateau Trail: This is a loop trail that takes hikers 4.4 miles (7.08 km) near the peninsula.
Buckeye Trail: This trail covers a distance of 7.7-miles (12.39 km) running between Blue hen to Jaite. If you are from Ohio, it is imperative that you take the “Buckeye” trail in support of the red. It is an incredibly busy trail in both directions.
Buckeye to Valley Bridle Trail: This is a loop trail off of the Buckeye trail adding to the hiking opportunity of the area. It travels a distance of 3.4 miles (5.47 km).
Cuyahoga Valley Highlights
- Natural and man-made attractions
- Brandywine Falls
- All Trails, Best Trails in Cuyahoga Valley National Park, https://www.alltrails.com/parks/us/ohio/cuyahoga-valley-national-park/views, retrieved June 2020.
- Britannica, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, https://www.britannica.com/place/Cuyahoga-Valley-National-Park, retrieved June 2020.
- Greatest Road Trip, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, http://www.thegreatestroadtrip.com/cuyahoga-valley-national-park, retrieved June 2020.
- National Geographic, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/national-parks/cuyahoga-valley-national-park/, retrieved June 2020.
- National Parks Conservation Association, Cuyahoga Valley, https://www.npca.org/parks/cuyahoga-valley-national-park, retrieved June 2020.
- National Park Service, Cuyahoga Valley, https://www.nps.gov/cuva/index.htm, retrieved June 2020.