Did you know Cleveland has a national park right in its back yard? While Cuyahoga Valley National Park is certainly not new to the Ohio area, it has only been a national park since the year 2000.
From walking or riding the Towpath to trekking through rugged terrain into deep forests with gushing waterfalls, this park has a little bit of something for everyone. The best part? The park is completely free. If you’ve never been to the park, the following are areas you must go see at least once.
The LedgesThe Ledges is one of the most jaw dropping areas of the park that you can hike through. Over 400 million years ago, this area of Ohio was covered by an ancient sea. Melting glaciers, thousands of years passing and weather are all factors that formed what are now the ledges. You will feel like you’ve stepped into another world in this part of the park.
This is one of the park’s prettiest and most popular waterfalls. Blue Hen Falls is easy to access with a short .5 mile hike. Visit this waterfall anytime during the year and you won’t be disappointed. Whether the water is raging from a recent rain or it’s completely frozen in time by the cold and snow, this park favorite will always grant you a gorgeous view.
Buttermilk FallsThis lesser known yet incredible waterfall can be found downstream from Blue Hen Falls. While there isn’t an official park trail, you can still easily access this one by following a distinguishable trail created naturally by frequent locals visiting.
Ohio and Erie Canal TowpathThis towpath trail follows the historic route of the Ohio and Erie Canal, which was originally created to provide a transportation route from Cleveland to Portsmouth. You can walk or bike this trail and enjoy some incredible views along the way including forests, fields and wetlands.
Everett Covered BridgeThis is the only remaining covered bridge in Summit County. In 2006 the National Park Foundation listed this bridge as one of the top ten places for photography on public lands so be sure to take some photos while you’re here!
Twin Sister FallsThis majestic waterfall has no trail and is not listed on any national park website, but it’s one you don’t want to miss. With fairly easy access from the Brecksville Reservation, this pair of waterfalls will gently remind you of how truly small we are in this world. Check out Natural Ohio’s website for directions
Brandywine FallsOne of the park’s most popular destinations, Brandywine Falls is an impressive 65-foot waterfall that was carved by Brandywine Creek. There is an easy-to-access boardwalk which brings you as close to the water as the park allows. While you’re here, hike the Brandywine Gorge Trail where you can explore more of the area nearby.
Ledges Scenic OverlookPart of the Ledges trailhead, this overlook is popular due to its vast view of Cuyahoga Valley. This location is ideal to watch sunsets, and is most beautiful in the fall when the leaves begin to change.
Greenwood falls shares similar qualities with Buttermilk falls. It can found in the Brecksville Reservation and, like Twin Sister Falls, does not have a true trail to follow. While it’s semi-easy to find, your feet are going to get wet getting there. The hike will take you between 30-40 minutes but the scenic walk is well worth it.
Don’t be fooled by this list of nine, as there are so many other great areas of the park to explore too! I will be sharing more of my favorite spots in an upcoming post, so stay tuned! While you’re waiting, you can find more information on what the park has to offer on the Cuyahoga Valley National Park website.