Adopt the pace of nature. Her secret is patience.Ralph Waldo Emerson
About the Park
Cuyahoga Valley is a 33,000-acre park located between large urban areas in northern Ohio, with hiking and bike trails, a scenic railroad, and a wide variety of flora and fauna. It will always be special because it represents a completed goal for us, as it was the last of the 51 National Parks in the lower 48 states we visited.
Check out the view from inside this beautiful park!
Live it up!
Best Things to do in the Park
- Travel through the park on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad
- Make a stop at the Boston Mill Visitor Center for maps and information
- Hike the Ledges Trail and circle the main parts of the park
- Go see Brandywine Falls on the Brandywine Gorge Loop
Cuyahoga Valley National Park was exceptional because it was the last of the 51 National Parks we visited during our Airstream adventure across the country. During our visit, we took our dog, Annie, and made the loop on the Ledges Trail. It was a great hike and a wonderful day to complete something this important accomplishment and goal we had set for ourselves.
Size of Park
“Cuyahoga” is Native American word meaning ”crooked river”.
Spreading over 50.9 sq mi of rural landscape, Cuyahoga Valley National Park is situated along the Cuyahoga River between Akron and Cleveland, Ohio. It is home to native plants and wildlife that attract nature lovers to this urban getaway.
Its sandstone gorges, an abundance of scenic waterfalls, and beautiful waterways bordered by hemlock and oak make it one of America’s most popular national parks. In fact, with over 2.5 million visitors, it was the 13th most visited national park in the US in 2021.
It is a beautiful park, especially in autumn, with more than 125 miles of trails with varying elevations and difficulty levels. Whether you are a beginner at hiking or an experienced hiking enthusiast, Cuyahoga Valley National Park will not disappoint you.
This is not your average national park. Its fascinating landscape can be tricky to navigate as it is divided into patches of protected land parcels rather than a single stretch of unspoiled wilderness. This makes for quite a confusing road map; one moment, you’re driving through the woods, and the next, you’re in a neighboring community outside the park. Apart from the protected gorges, forests, and waterways, the park is also home to farms and homes, including the quaint gateway town.
Best hikes in Cuyahoga Valley
With over 125 miles of hiking trails, Cuyahoga Valley National Park is Ohio’s hiking capital. Whether a beginner or a seasoned professional, you will find a trail that perfectly fits your experience level at Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
Some of the trails pass through different habitats like woodlands, wetlands, and old fields and can be pretty tough for beginners as they require you to cross streams with stepping stones or log bridges. Others are much more beginner friendly and are easily accessible to all visitors.
No trip to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park can be complete without hiking one or more of the park’s many trails. Here are some of the best hiking trails that need to be on top of your list when visiting this scenic national park.
Plateau Trail is one of the most popular trails in the park as it is beginner friendly and takes around 1 hour and 35 minutes to complete. The round trip is 4.4 mi, open throughout the year. In addition, this trail offers birding, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing during the winter season, making it one of the busiest trails in the park.
Plateau Trail is mostly a dirt trail, but you will encounter some gravel patches while passing through the forest. Make sure to stop by the Chestnut Pond, which is surrounded by pines and is one of the highlights of this trail.
Cuyahoga Valley Ledges Trail
This 2.3 mi loop trail takes under an hour to complete but can be challenging for children and inexperienced hikers. Still, it is quite a popular trail in the park, so be prepared to encounter other people during your hike. In addition, the lodge’s trail is generally considered a moderately challenging route because of the rocky trail, so pack a pair of hiking shoes and poles that can come in handy on such trails. Once you get to the top of the plateau, be sure to stop for a minute and admire the beautiful rock formations.
Brandywine Gorge Trail
Brandywine Gorge Trail is a short 1.5 miles long loop trail that takes just over half an hour to complete. This is quite a popular trail among tourists as it is beginner friendly and easily accessible. April through October is the best time to visit this trail as it offers gorgeous views during this time of the year. However, it will also be quite busy during these months, and it might take extra time to complete the round trip because of the crowd.
Old Carriage Trail
The Old Carriage Trail is not meant for children and inexperienced hikers. However, this 5.5 mi loop trail near Macedonia is very popular among hiking enthusiasts looking for a challenge. On average, It takes under 2 hours to complete, but it is best to go slow and admire the beautiful scenery the trail offers. You can park at the Red Lock trailhead just by the park headquarters and take the northern route to the Towpath Trail to access this trail.
Pack all the necessary gear if you plan to hike the Old Carriage Trail, as it can be challenging for inexperienced hikers. In addition, some bridges have been closed, and new routes have been created that might get your feet wet as you traverse the streams.
Blue Hen Falls
With a 2.4 mi round trip, the Blue Hen Falls trail is considered a moderately challenging route and can take anywhere between an hour and a half to 2 hours to complete. This is one of the more popular hiking areas in the park, which means it can get quite busy at times. However, it stays open throughout the year and offers beautiful views regardless of the time.
Although most of the route is a dirt trail, the Boston Mills road and the part that leads down to the falls is an old and broken asphalt trail.
Camping near Cuyahoga Valley
Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio doesn’t offer camping or accommodation. There are plenty of campgrounds and RV parks within driving distance of the park. Here are some top-rated camping sites near the Cuyahoga Valley National Park in northeast Ohio.
Punderson State Park Campground, Newbury
Situated under an hour’s drive from Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Punderson State Park Campground is a family and pet-friendly camping area that offers easy access to hiking, fishing, and paddling. It offers 20 full hookup sites with 30/50-amp electric, water, sewer, flush toilets, showers, and a dump station. The compound also offers winter camping, but the amenities become much more limited.
Stow Silver Springs Campground, Stow
If you are looking for affordable camping near Cuyahoga Valley National Park, then Stow Silver Springs Campground is a great option. It is open from April to October and costs just $13 for an overnight stay for locals and $15 for tourists. Unfortunately, drop-in camping is not an option, so make a reservation beforehand.
The campground has 27 campsites, including picnic tables, fire rings, grills, and electrical hookups. There are also water spigots around the campground, a trailer dump station, and portable restrooms.
Hidden Valley Campground, Ravenna
This family-friendly campground is surrounded by 64 acres of trees and spring-fed lakes. It is also just a few minutes drive from the West Branch State Park, which can be an excellent place for boating and other activities in summer. Hidden Valley Campground also offers many fun activities, including Saturday night bingo, DJs on holiday weekends, cornhole tournaments, fishing, and drive-in movie nights. Accommodation options at the Hidden Valley Campground include renting an RV site, a trailer, or a cabin.
Surrounded by beautiful green trees, colorful spring flowers, and fantastic fall foliage, the Brandywine Falls are among the highlights of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park in northeast Ohio.
Hike the 1.4-mile Brandywine Gorge Loop to see this imposing 65 feet tall waterfall, or walk the short boardwalk down to the viewing platform, which offers a clear view of the Brandywine Falls.
Situated on the Ohio and Erie Towpath Trail, Beaver Marsh is easily accessible for visitors. Head across the nice boardwalk to the wildlife viewing platform, where you can see many different animals, including beavers, blue herons, turtles, eagles, and otters.
Blue Hen Falls
Blue Hen Falls doesn’t even come close to Brandywine Falls when it comes to size and height; however, when it comes to beauty, it leaves its larger counterpart in the dust. Set amid a thick broadleaf forest and surrounded by rocks and boulders. The Blue Hen Falls is unmatched in its beauty.
Hike the 0.2-mile Blue Hen Falls Trail to get to the Blue Hen Falls viewpoint, which takes less than half an hour to complete. One of the best things about this trail is that it does get too crowded during the day, which makes the hike very relaxing and pleasant.
Everett Covered Bridge
A reminder of the heyday of this area, the Everett Covered Bridge is the only remaining structure of its kind in Summit County. It is accessible by foot or bicycle and is a popular attraction for photography enthusiasts in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail
The Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail cuts through the park and follows the course of the Cuyahoga River. This trail connected America’s interior with the eastern seaboard in the 19th century and opened up a massive market for produce and products from the Midwest. This historic route is one of the most popular hiking trails in the park and needs to be on your list when visiting Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
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