Cuyahoga Valley may be Ohio’s only national park, but it’s made sure to represent the state’s splendor, thanks to its kaleidoscope of attractions. It has man-made and natural places that work together to provide unparalleled vacation memories.
The park is close to two urban areas and is very accessible, easily attracting a average of 2.2 million visitors per year. It’s easy to fall in love with this Buckeye State destination. First, it has stunning waterfalls considered some of the best in the United States. Then, its trails are popular with hikers, cyclists and runners. Finally, it has many historic sites, some of which are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The park is an impressive partnership between the best of nature and human talent.
From river and forest to waterfalls and ravines, Cuyahoga Valley National Park knows how to surprise travelers. In this Ohio paradise, allure is more than just a word, it’s a lifestyle.
Plan the visit
The park is open 24/7 and there is no entrance fee. It’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 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday from May 1 through Memorial Day.
Hunt House, which features kid-friendly exhibits, is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday from May 1 through Memorial Day.
What tourists want, they can get in Cuyahoga. Beyond their desires, however, the park will satisfy their needs, whether it’s serenity or an adrenaline rush.
There are 13 trails with different routes that will satisfy casual walkers or advanced hikers. Here are some paths to try that offer scenic views:
The unpaved Ledges trail takes one to two hours and will take hikers around a plateau with Instagram-worthy rock formations. The Brandywine Gorge Loop takes hikers to the famous Brandywine Falls, making it a famous trail. It is therefore recommended to visit it early in the morning or at the end of the afternoon.
Another popular activity is the hike to Blue Hen Falls from Boston Township, as it takes guests on a beautiful 15 foot waterfall viewpoint. The multi-use Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail takes visitors to the heart of the park, and those who want to conquer its entirety can do so for 10 hours (19.5 miles). Even short walks on the Towpath Trail will cover the lowlands, so casual hikers need not worry.
For a remarkable outdoor getaway, the park also welcomes backpackers to the Ottawa Point-Buckeye Trail. Meanwhile, for cyclists, there is 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.
Paddle and fish
The Cuyahoga River is the park’s main attraction, so naturally some of the most popular activities are boating and fishing. The Cuyahoga has ‘burnt’ many times before due to oil slicks and it is still recovering from all the damage. However, it is still a must visit as it is always a good time splashing around in its waters.
The river is not maintained for recreational activities, so tourists should paddle at their own risk. Even so, there are five access sites to the river. There is more than 65 species of fish in the parkand some that can be reeled in are bluegills, bass, and crappie.
Although 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 serve as a playground for coyotes, foxes, mice, moles and deer. In the trees, there are chipmunks and squirrels while by the river, otters and mink splash around. Amphibians include frogs and salamanders, while reptiles are represented by painted turtles and water snakes, among others.
For entomology enthusiasts, they can discover 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. In spring, there are sparrows, tanagers and warblers. Summer arrives with resident raptors welcoming it, while fall arrives with grackles, blackbirds, cowbirds and starlings.
Botanical enthusiasts can keep busy snapping photos of herbs and wildflowers.
For those who want to try a unique outdoor adventure, Canalway Questing is the choice. Quests are like geocaching without GPS, and instead of trinkets, seekers will find a logbook on a particular site. In this logbook they will sign their name as proof that they are a skilled hunter. The quest season runs from April 15 to November 15, and each session lasts 30 to 75 minutes. It is a perfect activity for children.
Panoramic train ride
A train in the valley? Yes indeed. Tourists are welcome to board the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railway, a unique way to experience the wonders of the park. It’s an ideal way to drink in the views of the river while spotting wildlife. The trip takes 2.5 hours (round trip), but the experience lasts a lifetime. A ticket costs $16 for adults and $11 for children.
In winter, tourists can try snowshoeing, ice fishing, sledding, tubing and skiing. Indeed, every day is an adventure in Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
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