I was surprised to learn that there is a National Park in Ohio (apparently Ohio is actually really awesome place to go hiking, I just never knew it till this year). Jess and I planned a road-trip to visit her sister in New York and Cuyahoga Valley National Park was on the way (the interstate runs through it) so we made a 1.5 day side trip. Our visit happened to fall during the 2017 National Parks Week, which was cool. I have never been (knowingly) in a National Park during National Parks Week.
Every guide book, website, person who has been there, will tell you that Cuyahoga Valley National Park is unlike any other National Park due to its urban-suburban setting. The interstate literally runs through it, well over it, via a couple bridges (like the one pictured below). A few towns fall within the National Park and it is not uncommon to drive through neighborhoods to reach certain destinations within the park. Many of the park’s attractions have physical addresses, which make it easier to find them. Due to the layout of the park, there is no entrance fee.
The Cuyahoga River, which runs through the park, used to be one of America’s most polluted rivers. Sewers and factories dumped waste and chemicals into the river for years. In 1969, the layer of oil floating on the water caught fire, making it appear as if the river itself was on fire. This appalling occurrence led to the passage of the Clean Water Act in 1972.
Jess and I had a few things that we definitely wanted to see during our trip: Brandywine Falls, the Ledges, and the Welcome sign, but after that we relied on suggestions from Park Rangers. We packed so much into our day and a half trip; it surprised even myself. Especially since we didn’t go to places according to location, we drove the length of the park about 10 times. It was a great start to our New York adventure.
One of Jess and I’s missions in life is to get pictures of the National Park entrance signs, like the one pictured above. I don’t know why, but we like these signs. We knew the Cuyahoga Valley National Park sign existed because there’s pictures of it on Instagram, but we could not find it. There are so many roads that intersect the park both North-South and East-West that we weren’t sure which one was considered the official entrance road. After speaking with multiple Park Rangers (no one knew right offhand where the sign was) we finally found it! If you are traveling West along OH-303, the sign is on the right hand side of the road before you reach Happy Days Lodge.
Shawn was skeptical that Ohio could be as awesome as I told him when I returned from Jess and I’s road-trip, so we planned a weekend trip to the National Park in October. We decided to take our fur-son, Niko, with us when we visited because Cuyahoga Valley is one of the few National Parks that is truly dog-friendly. They allow leashed dogs on all hiking trails! During our visit, we combined some of the things Jess and I had done with some new things that we hadn’t and had a great time seeing the park in its fall colors.
Between the two trips I have now been to the following, in order of preference:
- The Ledges
- Bridal Veil Falls
- Beaver Marsh
- Brandywine Falls
- Blue Hen Falls
- Boston Store Visitor Center
- Lake Trail
- Oak Hill Trail
- Salt Run Trail
- Ride the Scenic Train
- Complete the Towpath Trail
- Hike the Wetmore Trail