With gorgeous landscapes covering 33,000 acres of forests, hills, and meadows, Cuyahoga National Park is beautifully located in a valley near the winding Cuyahoga River. The park was originally used by Native Americans as hunting grounds and for trade of fur, later in 1870s becoming a place for recreation. Even now, the park offers endless activity possibilities including kayaking, hiking, golfing, wildlife watching, and train rides.
With over 125 miles of trails ranging in length, the park offers various hiking options with Brandywine Falls being one of the most popular ones. Concealed within the park and naturally formed by the Brandywine river, the incredible Brandywine Waterfall is 60 feet high. Being a very popular attraction, this trail can get extremely busy in summer (parking is usually full by 10am). Alternately, parking is available by Standford House, and following a 3.8 mile scenic trail through the woods also leads to the falls.
From the parking lot, picnic area, and restrooms, a 1.5 mile hike leads visitors through the gorge and down to the river. The trail heads through the forest over shaded boardwalks with the calming sound of water echoing in the valley. The boardwalk leads to a staircases cutting the altitude quite drastically, from here visitors have unobstructed views of the waterfall in its full glory. In 1814, a saw mill was built to harness the power of the waterfall and later a village was also built around this strategic location.
The humidity at the gorge creates the perfect environment for nature and wildlife to flourish, resulting in the surrounding sandstone boulders being all covered in moss and hemlocks. From the falls, a couple of challenging hops over the slippery rocks in the river leads to the Brandywine Gorge 2.7 mile trail, leading deeper into the forest where nature is at its finest. The fall is worth visiting all year round! Whether visiting in spring, when water-flow is at its peak, or in fall when nature is super colorful, or in winter when the water freezes, Brandywine is equally magnificent.
The Ledges Trail
The Ledges Trail is another wonderful hiking location. The splendid 1.8 mile trail is moderately challenging, and connects to different trails so extending the hike to a longer one is easily possible. Parking and a sheltered picnic area are available, although prior reservation for the later is recommended. The looped trail boasts amazing scenery and wild flora. With various intersections along the trail, it can be quite challenging to stick to the correct one, so keeping a map handy is definitely a good idea. The rocky staircase leading to the bottom can be slippery, but the Ledges Trail is much more private than Brandywine Falls. The trail leads along the stunning imposing sandstone cliffs that form the Ritchie Ledges. The Ledges were found in the Virginia Kendall Park area of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, which gets its name from the mother of the farmer who originally owned the land. From the parking lot, a short walk and a descend leads to the base of the cliffs with the ledges right above you. Visitors can also walk to Ice Box Cave, a cold sandstone recessed cave, home to hundreds of bats. Entrance into the cave is prohibited to help protect bats from a lethal fungal disease.
Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad
Possibly the most touristic attraction of the park is the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, a privately owned non-profit railway. This attraction enables visitors to explore the beauty of the park and the nature surrounding it from the comfort of the train. Leaving from Rockside station, Peninsula Depot or Akron Northside station, this 2.5 hour round trip is an alternate way to go through the Cuyahoga valley, view the river and if lucky spot some wildlife including rare birds, deer, and otter. With tickets starting at $15 and increasing based on the area of seating, this train allows visitors with mobility issues to also explore the park.
Cuyahoga National Park in Ohio is a fantastic location away from the marks of progress and modernization. The free to visit park has a natural charm, and while attractions like Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad and Brandywine Waterfalls are more popular and attract larger audiences, the parks raw beauty lies in its deeper, slightly harder to reach locations like Ledges Trail. Including a golf course, kayaking, cycling, and plenty of nature-watching opportunities, it truly is a spectacular location everyone can enjoy.
Shots from Cuyahoga National Park
Here are some of our favorites shots we got while exploring Cuyahoga National Park
Where Is It?
There are multiple ways to reach the park. Heading to the park from Akron and Ohio, take the I-77 North, take exit 125A to Cuyahoga Falls and OH-8 North, from here take exit 14 A to Boston Mills Road and at the light turn right, where you will cross the river, where you will find the visitor Center and the entrance to the parking lot.
Cuyahoga National Park
Ohio, United States
(Plus Code: 7CJJ+8V Brecksville, Ohio, United States)