Explore the Cuyahoga Valley National Park
April 17-25 marks National Park Week (2021)
Established in 1974, the Cuyahoga Valley National park is the only national park in the State of Ohio. The park encompasses 33,000 acres and runs from Cleveland to Akron alongside the Cuyahoga River. Highlights include beautiful waterfalls, unique rock formations and plenty of trails to hike and bike.
The park is easily accessible from many entry points.
“Cuyahoga Valley National Park is open everyday, 24 hours a day with the following exceptions: Brandywine Falls, Virginia Kendall Ledges, Octagon, and Lake close from dusk until morning opening.”
Entrance Fee: $0
CLICK HERE for online trail map.
Things to know before you go:
The Boston Mills Visitor Center
The visitor center is located along the Cuyahoga River in Peninsula. You can find maps of the park, upcoming event literature, a park store, as well as learn about the history of the area. Normal hours are 10am – 4pm. Please check their website for any change in hours of operation.
Address: 5793 Boston Mills Rd, Peninsula, OH.
The Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park – “The Conservancy enriches people’s lives and enhances our region by inspiring use, preservation and support of Cuyahoga Valley National Park.”
The Conservancy website is a great resource for upcoming events, learning about volunteering and supporting the park financially. To contact them direct: Tel 330.657.2909
Cuyahoga Valley National Park Highlights
> There is limited parking at Brandywine Falls. From 10am-4pm the parking area does sometimes get full during beautiful weather days and especially during the fall season. There is no overflow parking. Parking on Brandywine Road may get you towed.
> The 65-foot waterfall is accessible by a boardwalk. There are various levels and steps that lead you down into the gorge. The wood can be slippery when wet. Climbing of the falls is not allowed. Signs are posted.
> A nice time to visit the falls is just after a rain storm.
> If you fall in love with the falls, why not plan an overnight stay at the Inn at Brandywine Falls located just above the falls. Katie and her staff are wonderful.
Address: 8176 Brandywine Road, Sagamore Hills 44067 (81° 32.264′ W) (41° 16.580′ N)
Two other falls worth exploring:
Blue Hen Falls
This 15-foot waterfall fed by Spring Creek is worth the hike. “Follow the Buckeye Trail up the hill, cross Boston Mills Road, and then 1/2 mile down a steep hill.” Allow about 2-3 hours.
Address: 6947 Riverview Road, Peninsula 44141 (81° 34.362′ W) (41° 15.378′ N)
Parking: Park at the Boston Mills Visitor Center parking lot or overflow lot.
Buttermilk Falls is located downstream from Blue Hen Falls. The water gently flows down its layers of shale. There is not an official trail, however because of the popularity of the falls, a walking trail has been cut through by those visiting the falls. When you have reached the Buckeye Trail sign that says “Trail Ends Here”, just keep going or follow the river downstream.
One of our favorite places to explore within the park is the Virginia Kendall area. Growing up I knew this area as Ritchie Ledges. Because of the unique rock formations, it was a favorite spot to meet up with friends and enjoy a hike. The trail around the ledges is about 1.8 miles. The trail is moderately difficult.
“Picture this: It is 400 million years ago. The state of Ohio, now in the north eastern United States, sits just south of the Equator, covered in seawater.”
What? Learn more about the “Geology of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park” on the U.S. Geological Survey site.
The Ledges Overlook
The Ledges Overlook is a favorite spot to view sunsets. The overlook is easily accessible from a parking area about 200 yards away. The elevation is flat. A perfect spot to finish your exploration of the park.
Trailhead: 405 Truxell Road, Peninsula, OH (81° 30.652′ W) (41° 13.137′ N)
Cuyahoga Valley National Park trail information can be found here.
The Everett Covered Bridge
The Everett Covered Bridge is the only remaining covered bridge left in Summit County. The bridge crosses Furnace Run and is easily accessible from the parking area. A great spot to take photos.
Address: 2370 Everett Road in Peninsula, 1/2 mile west of Riverview Road. (81° 35.08′ W) (41° 12.22′ N)
To learn more about the bridge – click here.
Station Road Bridge
Built in 1882, the Station Road Bridge (pictured to the right of the tracks) is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The bridge above is the Rt. 82 bridge connecting Brecksville and Sagamore Hills. Another beautiful bridge to photograph.
Address: 9141 Riverview Road, Brecksville, Ohio, 4414 (81° 35.281′ W) (41° 19.141′ N)
There is parking and a train station stop located within walking distance of the bridge. Just slightly to the west of the Station Road Bridge entrance is Brecksville Reservation, part of the Cleveland Metroparks Emerald Necklace system and another great park to explore.
Bike and Hike Trail
What was once a path used by mules to pull canal boats down the historic Ohio & Erie Canal, today visitors can enjoy a leisurely walk or bike ride on the same path. The path is perfect for both as it is mostly flat. The trail is easily accessible from various parking locations within the park.
If you are interested in renting a bicycle, visit Century Cycles in Peninsula.
If you love to watch birds, head to the boardwalk in Beaver Marsh. The boardwalk is located over a beaver pond which allows perfect observation of the over 50 birds species that nest annually at the marsh. During fair weather weekends the trailhead typically fills with guests.
Address: 3801 Riverview Road, Peninsula, OH (81° 35.001′ W) (41° 11.075′ N)
Bath Road Heronry
You can view the beautiful great blue herons as they build their nests and raise their young at the Bath Road Heronry. (mid-February through June)
Location: Park in the pullout on Bath Road between Akron Peninsula and Riverview roads, Akron, Ohio 44067. Look south across the road to the heronry above.
Click here to learn more.
Other things to do in the park.
Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad
The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad travels north-south through the National Park. There are three boarding stations; Rockside Road, Peninsula Depot and the Akron Northside Station. During the warmer months the train also offers additional stops for those who are biking in the park. For information about their Bike Aboard program click here.
Throughout the year the train offers special excursions like Ales & Rails, the Grape Escape, the Polar Express, Dinner on the Train, special holiday excursions, fall excursions, and more.
Tickets should be purchased ahead of time. You can find information about the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad at cvsr.org. (Please note train rides begin May 1, 2021.)
Hale Farm & Village
Also located within the park is Hale Farm & Village. The Farm & Village is a living history museum of the Western Reserve Historical Society, is located on 90 acres in Bath, Ohio with 32 historic structures, farm animals, heritage gardens, farming and early American craft and trade demonstrations.
Address: 2686 Oak Hill Road, Bath, Ohio 44210
“The location is open for a summer season June – August, Wednesday – Sunday; weekends only September and October; and signature events or educational programming during other times. Visit www.halefarm.org or call (330) 666-3711 for seasonal hours, program listings, rental information, and to become a member.”
Szalay’s Farm & Market
During summer and fall you will find many a park visitor making a pilgrimage to Szalay’s Farm & Market. The market sells local produce and bakery. In the fall they sell their famous corn-on-the-cob and host fall weekend events which includes fresh roasted corn and a corn maize.
Address: 4563 Riverview Rd. Peninsula, OH 44264
Countryside Market at Howe Meadow
From May through October, the Countryside Food & Farms hosts a farmers market on Saturdays in Howe Meadow. There is always a nice selection of vendors. During my visits I have purchased fresh produce, bouquets of flowers, kettle corn, coffee, bakery items, and a freshly made omelet.
Time: 9am to Noon
Address: 4040 Riverview Rd., Peninsula, OH
Did you know?
All National Park visitor centers sell the Passport To Your National Parks travelogue. The book includes color-coded maps, pre-visit information, illustrations and photographs. It also includes a list of every national park area in the United States. Spaces allow you to collect the series of commemorative Passport stamps issued each year. The cost is approximately $10.
(Just an FYI – You will pay more on Amazon.)
Article and photos unless noted by: Diane Rock
Rocky Hill | MyOhioFun.com
Editor’s note: Any use of the above article or images without prior permission, will be in violation of copyright laws.
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