Easy trails in Cuyahoga Valley National Park
July 10th, 2020
Dog Friendly: Yes.
Restrooms at trailhead: Yes there is multiple bathrooms throughout the park
HISTORY BEHIND CUYAHOGA VALLEY NATIONAL PARK:
I lived in the Cleveland area for 24 years and never went to Cuyahoga Valley National Park. I moved to Phoenix and have been there for almost 2 years. I went on a trip home to visit my family and one of the things on my list was to see the National Park! Cuyahoga Valley National Park isn’t a popular National Park, especially when you have National Parks like Yellowstone and Zion to compete with. During the 1960’s and 1970’s urban expansion threatened rural areas between Cleveland and Akron. Facing pressure to preserve the natural environment the United States Congress and President Gerald Ford created the Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation area in 1974. In 2000 it became a National Park. The park consists of 33,000 acres of land between Cleveland and Akron, which makes it a pretty unique park since it is in between two large urban cities. This is the only National Park in Ohio and is one of the three in the Great Lakes Basin.
THINGS TO DO:
Brandywine Falls is the tallest waterfall in Ohio at 60 feet. Early settlers in the valley saw the falls, not just as an object of beauty, but as something to be used for its water power. In 1814, George Wallace built a saw mill at the top of the falls, which if you go to the top of the falls you will be able to see where it used to be. Brandywine Falls is accessed by a boardwalk that takes you to eye level of the falls and above the falls. With the research I did it made it seem like it gets very busy (I assume it does in the fall) because this is the most popular attraction of the park. So I wanted to get there as early as possible. We got there at 9:00am and there was PLENTY of spots. There is two lots and there are also bathrooms. There is a 1.5 mile trail that takes you for a loop around the falls, but we just did the boardwalk (lots of steps). Brandywine Falls was breathtaking! I didn’t even know this existed in Ohio. If you aren’t an avid hiker, but you like nature I recommend this (I also recommend it if you are an avid hiker like myself). If you’re from the Phoenix area being able to see all of the green is amazing.
The Ledge Trail is located in the Virginia Kendall Unit of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The trail follows along the sandstone cliffs that make up Ritchie Ledges. The trail says it is a 1.8 mile loop, but we didn’t loop all the way around. We walked past the ledges shelter area where the bathrooms are located and started the trail from there. We went until we came across the overlook and then cut through the massive field to get back to our car (you won’t miss it). Throughout this loop trail there are several other trails you can head off to instead of following the loop. You are able to go down below the ledges and hike too, but we didn’t end up doing any of that.
Our last stop was Beaver Marsh. 30 years ago this area was filled with junk and had a small stream that followed through it. A group of nature lovers ended up cleaning up this area and then the beavers dammed it creating the marsh that it is today. The Marsh is on a bike/hiking path that leads to a wooden boardwalk with viewing areas that go directly above the Marsh. We came across a lot of bikers while on this path. We didn’t get to see any beavers, but we did get to see a lot of birds and ducks. We heard some frogs, but didn’t see any. And we did see one turtle! This was pretty amazing to see, especially because it used to be littered with trash.