Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio is right in my backyard. I think sometimes this is one national park that may get overlooked by visitors to our state. There are countless fun things to do year round in this 33,000 acre national park.
If you love train rides, catch a ride on the Cuyahoga Scenic Railway, visit the local shops, restaurants, and farmers markets in the small towns that are dotted along the many miles of the park. For the outdoor enthusiasts, you can kayak, canoe, bicycle, or just take a leisurely stroll down the towpath. All along the Towpath Trail you can still see remnants of canal locks and buildings, from the historic Ohio-Erie Canal, that made Ohio accessible to the rest of the eastern states and an easier transport to Cleveland.
I come for the hiking and bird watching (yes, I am a bird nerd). The Buckeye Trail runs through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and has over 1200 miles of diverse terrain through the state. There are many trails along the Buckeye to choose from, each trail has its own beauty and amount of ease or difficulty. Not one of them will disappoint you! Whether you are a casual hiker or more experienced, the Buckeye Trail has it all.
We usually pick our starting point on the Buckeye Trail at the park’s visitor center (town of Peninsula) and hike until the trail runs into Hwy 303.
This is a great stopping point to rest with several restaurants in the area. The trail will wind you through piney woods, tall staircases and shallow creeks. This will encompass about 8-10 miles round trip. There are shorter trails, but we have come to enjoy the longer ones and like the challenge.
Other favorite areas for hiking and waterfalls are Blue Hen Falls (at 15 feet tall) and Brandywine Falls (at 65 feet tall). These two are 1 & 2 mile moderate circuit trails. Both are a short drive from the main visitor center.
There are dozens of areas to pull off into the park for viewing and roaming. Cuyahoga Valley National Park has stunning showcases of indigenous plant life and wildflowers. The scent of honeysuckle thick in the air. You will see plenty of wildlife such as deer, coyotes, beavers, turtles, and over 200 bird species.
Many visitors just enjoy walking through the park on the Towpath Trail or having a picnic lunch along the Cuyahoga River. The park has designated areas for you to bring your horse and ride for miles. This is also a perfect park for camping. Be sure to stop by the visitor center to grab a map and ask for assistance.
I am spoiled to have this exquisite national park so close to me. I never get tired of exploring the park and I still have so much more to see.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park is open year round, although, when the weather changes and the snow builds, the hiking trails and even the walking paths can be quite difficult to maneuver (sometimes impossible). Cross country skiing is a good option. Winter time turns the park into stunning white beauty.
I chat with people frequently who have visited Ohio and didn’t take the time to see the park . I really encourage anyone coming to the area to take a day (or two) and explore this national treasure, you’ll be glad you did.
Location of Visitor Center: 1550 Boston Mills Rd, Peninsula, Oh 44264
*****All Photos taken by Simple Sojourner unless otherwise noted