“It is in the valley that one can realize most effectively a sense of isolation and freedom from the sights and sounds…which go to make the modern city…” – Olmstead Brothers, 1925
Nestled in the backyards of Cleveland and Akron, Ohio, lays Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The park protects 33,000 acres along 22-miles of the meandering Cuyahoga River.
We arrived at Cuyahoga Valley to find quite a bit of snow dusting the landscape and temperatures in the low forties. Even so, we spotted locals walking dogs, biking, rafting, and even one on horseback. Lucky residents!!!
When in Rome … we thought and promptly stopped in at the Boston Store Visitor center to pick up the park guide and plan our day. With a network of some120-mile hiking trails we knew we would barely scratch the surface.
We decided to start with the crown jewel of Cuyahoga Valley: Brandywine Falls, the second tallest waterfall in Ohio. Carefully making our way down the ice covered steps we stopped at the upper observation platform for a breathtaking view of the water careening over the 65-foot falls. The lower observation platform was closed due to ice and instability, so we continued out and over the bridge for a different perspective of the falls. It’s a very short hike (we hesitate to even call it a hike) for a large reward. How crowded it must get in warmer weather, we speculated.
The Ledges 1.8-mile Trail is a popular trail that circles rock formations, including the Ice Box Cave. With an elevation change of 105 feet the trail is considered moderate. We had no problem traversing the snow and mud covered pathways being cautious not to fall on our backsides on the icy downhills. Curiously we weren’t as concerned about falling on our faces going up. Ha!
Time for lunch!
The Towpath Trail follows the historic Ohio and Erie Canal route through the Cuyahoga River valley and continues both north and south of the park. We caught up with the Towpath Trail in various locations and took it along the Cuyahoga River bank to Beaver Marsh. Partially frozen over we didn’t spot any beavers, but did find geese and ducks enjoying the cool air and waters. The park guide states that Great Blue Herons and over 100 other bird species nest in the valley. We heard birdsong but saw few birds this early in the season.
An exhibit along the trail is placed at one of the locks. Back in the day, boats were towed (towpath!) along the canal by mules and as the boat entered each lock the water filled and receded with the boat to the next lock. We had hoped to see a demonstration of how a lock works at the Canal Exploration Center, but the visitor center was closed due to frozen pipes!!
Rounding out our visit to Cuyahoga Falls we hiked to Blue Hen Falls finding its beautiful simplicity in water and ice.
Visited March, 2015
Up next: Mammoth Cave National Park