Cuyahoga Valley might be Ohio’s only national park, but it made sure to represent the state’s splendor, thanks to its kaleidoscope of attractions. It has man-made and natural spots working together to deliver unparalleled vacation memories.The park is near two urban areas and is very accessible, easily attracting an average of 2.2 million visitors annually. It’s not complicated to fall in love with this Buckeye State destination. Firstly, it has stunning waterfalls considered among the best in the United States. Next, its trails are popular for hikers, bikers, and runners. Lastly, it has many historic sites, some of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The park is an impressive partnership of nature's best and human talent.From the river and the forest to the falls and ravines, the Cuyahoga Valley National Park knows how to surprise travelers. In this Ohio paradise, the allure is more than just a word – it’s a lifestyle.
Plan The Visit
The park is open 24/7, and there’s no entrance fee. That’s how welcoming the place is, and the only thing a traveler needs to bring is a desire for adventure.
- The Boston Mill Visitor Center is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- The Canal Exploration Center is open from 10 a.m to 4 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday from May 1 to Memorial Day.
- Hunt House, which offers child-friendly exhibits, operates from 10 a.m to 4 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday from May 1 to Memorial Day.
What tourists want, they can get at Cuyahoga. Beyond their wants, however, the park will satisfy their needs, be it serenity or adrenaline rush.
There are 13 trails with different routes that will satisfy casual strollers or experienced hikers. Here are some paths to try that offer scenic views:
The unpaved Ledges Trail takes one to two hours to complete and will take hikers around a plateau with Instagram-worthy rock formations. The Brandywine Gorge Loop takes trekkers to the famous Brandywine Falls, making it a famous trail, so it's recommended to visit it early morning or late afternoon.
Another popular activity is the hike to Blue Hen Falls from Boston Township, as it takes guests to a lovely viewing point of the 15-foot waterfall. The multi-purpose Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail takes guests into the heart of the park, and those who want to conquer its entirety can do so for 10 hours (19.5 miles). Even short Towpath trail walks will cover the lowlands, so casual hikers need not worry.
For a remarkable outdoor escapade, the park also welcomes backpackers on the Ottawa Point-Buckeye Trail. Meanwhile, for bikers, there’s the East Rim Trail System where they can choose to conquer a short technical trail, a 2.3-mile path, or a 4.7-mile course. There are seven horseback riding trails in the park, ranging from 0.75 miles to four miles, offering relaxing views.
Paddling And Fishing
Cuyahoga River is the main attraction of the park, so, naturally, some of the most favored activities are paddling and fishing. The Cuyahoga “burned” many times before due to oil slicks and it’s still recovering from all the damage. However, it’s still a must-visit because it's always a splashing good time in its waters.
The river is not maintained for recreational activities, so tourists should paddle at their own risk. Even so, there are five river access sites. There are more than 65 fish species in the park, and some that can be reeled in are bluegills, bass, and crappie.
Though the park is surrounded by urban areas, it remains a refuge for many wildlife, thanks to its fields, forests, river, and wetlands. The river is still recovering, but it remains an important habitat and food source for many animals.
The greens act as a playground for coyotes, foxes, mice, moles, and deer. In the trees, there are chipmunks and squirrels while by the river, otters and minks are splashing. Amphibians include frogs and salamanders, while reptiles are represented by painted turtles and water snakes, among others.
For entomology enthusiasts, they can check out praying mantises, dragonflies, bees, Argiope spiders, and many types of butterflies. Whatever the season, birds frequent the place. Winter attracts sparrows, siskins, ducks, and raptors. Come spring, there are buntings, tanagers, and wood-warblers. Summer enters with resident raptors welcoming it, while fall comes in with grackles, blackbirds, cowbirds, and starlings.
Botany lovers, meanwhile, can busy themselves taking photos of grasses and wildflowers.
For those who want to try a unique adventure outdoors, Canalway Questing is the choice. Questing is like geocaching without the GPS, and instead of trinkets, questors will find a logbook on a particular site. In that logbook, they will sign their name as proof they’re one adept hunter. The questing season is from April 15 to November 15, and each session takes 30 to 75 minutes to finish. It's a perfect activity for kids.
Scenic Train Ride
A train in the valley? Yes, indeed. Tourists are welcome aboard the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, a unique way to experience the wonders of the park. It's an ideal manner to drink in the sights of the river while wildlife watching. The trip is 2.5 hours (roundtrip), but the experience lasts a lifetime. A ticket costs $16 for adults and $11 for kids.
Come winter, tourists can try snowshoeing, ice fishing, sledding, snow tubing, and skiing. Indeed, every day is an adventure in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.