Here are our top 10 attractions in Cuyahoga Valley National Park:
Cuyahoga Valley Park Biking
In addition to hiking trails, beautiful rock formations, and historic properties, Cuyahoga Valley Park has four major bicycle trails that are a popular activity for residents and tourists. The biking trails include the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail, Summit MetroParks Bike & Hike Trail, and Cleveland Metroparks All-Purpose trails in Brecksville and in Bedford. The Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail is the most popular of all the Cuyahoga trails. The Towpath follows the historic Ohio & Erie Canal route, 20 miles of which, cut through the park. From it you can make connections to many of the natural and historic sites in the park and to other trails that intersect it along the way.
Hiking is one the best-loved pastimes in the at Cuyahoga Valley National Park thanks to the parks waterfalls, rolling hills, and well laid trails of crushed limestone along portions of the Ohio and Erie Canal. In fact, the exquisite waterfalls and lush natural settings of the trails have made them a favorite of local and visiting artists and writers for years. The four best known Cuyahoga hiking trails are Haskell Run Trail, Tree Farm Trail, Blue Hen Falls Trail, and Station Road Hike.
The Haskell Run Trail is a short loop that starts and ends near Happy Days Lodge. The trail begins near the Mater Dolorosa cemetery, a small Irish Catholic cemetery established in 1869, and winds down a wooded ravine to Haskell Run. The trail crosses over a creek twice on wooden bridges, up a ravine, and ends in the field west of Happy Days Lodge. Squirrels, frogs, salamanders, songbirds, and other animals frequent this creek valley. The Haskell Run Trail is .5 miles and is a 30 minute hike.
EarthCaching at Cuyahoga Park
Visitors to Cuyahoga Valley National Park can now participate in EarthCaching — one of the latest environmental “sport” activities whose popularity is sweeping the country. While some arm themselves with a portable Global Positioning System (GPS), most local residents and out-of-state visitors join the fun at Cuyahoga Park using nothing more than a map and their curiosity.
EarthCaching is treasure hunt for caches (treasures) that the Earth has created. The self-guided hikes are created by a team of educators, geologists, and naturalists and focus on interesting geological features that are specific to Cuyahoga Valley. Visitors participating in the earthcache program can logon to www.earthcache.org to learn the clues and activities needed to receive credit for your find. The park has EarthCaches for Blue Hen Falls, Brandywine Falls, Ice Box Cave, and Lock 29 to Deep Lock Towpath Trail. Earthcaches are also available along the Old Carriage Trail, Riding Run Trail, and on the Towpath Trail from Lock 29 to Deep Lock.
Visitors to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park have a rare opportunity to see and travel the Erie-Ohio Canal trails on horseback just as early pioneers did in the 1800’s. Cuyahoga Valley National Park bridle trails maintain their popularity with local riding clubs thanks to the diverse landscape and riding levels offered in the park. Unfortunately, there are no horse rentals adjacent to the bridle trails; however, a number of riding clubs can be contacted for horseback riding tours. Horse trailers can be parked in the Station Road parking lot, close to Brecksville Reservation where large pull-through parking spaces. Cuyahoga Valley National Park’s bridle trails include Wetmore Trail, Dickerson Run Trail, Tabletop Trail, Langes Run Trail, Butler’s Trail, Valley Trail, Riding Run Trail, Perkins Trail, and more. The trails vary in length and level of skill needed as many of the trails have a significant elevation change.
Golfing at Cuyahoga National Park
Are you one of the 27 million people who are interested in learning to play or improve your golf game? If so, you’ll want to visit one of the great public-private courses that are overseen by the Cleveland Metroparks Department in and around Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Many of the courses offer a lessons through a professional or Academy of Golf which provide learning opportunities for golfers of all levels, ages, and backgrounds. The goal of any Academy is to provide a safe, structured, and non-threatening environment where individuals of all ages and backgrounds can learn golf skills, traditions, rules and etiquette at an affordable price.
Winter Sports at Cuyahoga Park
The winter months shouldn’t keep you indoors when the Cuyahoga Valley National Park offers so many wonderful winter activities including hiking, cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, snow tubing, snowshoeing, sledding, and ice fishing. Best of all, you can enjoy an “après ski” (sled, or snowshoe!) at the Winter Sports Center at Kendall Lake Shelter. The center was built from native chestnut and sandstone by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s and provides a rustic setting to warm up with a hot drink after a day of outdoor fun. Center staff and volunteers provide visitors with updated weather forecasts, area maps, and schedules of park events.
Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad
Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad is one of the best opportunities to experience the adventure of a vintage train ride through the beautiful rolling hills of Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Trains in the Cuyahoga Valley have been operating for more than 100 years. In 1880, the Valley Railway began transporting coal from the Tuscarawas River Valley to Cleveland, Akron, and Canton while providing passenger service along the way.
The Valley Railway soon became part of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, before competition from automobiles caused the decline of both freight and passenger service. In 1972, the line was renewed as the scenic excursion route, the Cuyahoga Valley Preservation and Scenic Railway. Today, the scenic railroad is now called the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.
Visitors who are looking for a rustic adventure site to hold their next family gathering or office brainstorming sessions should consider stopping by the George Stanford House, located on a rural section of Stanford Road, just north of the small village of Boston. The Stanford House was built in 1843 and has incredible views of the Cuyahoga River and the adjacent Ohio & Erie Canal, making it the perfect overnight facility for moderately sized group events, such as family reunions or church retreats. This historic home sleeps up to 30 people in nine private rooms in the beautiful setting of Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
The house also features two community restrooms, each with two stalls and two showers, a self-service kitchen with high-quality appliances, a comfortable community living room, a rustic dining room, and scenic park grounds with trail accessibility and on-site parking. The Stanford House is in close proximity to numerous visitor amenities, including the Towpath Trail, Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, Boston Mill Station, Boston Store Visitor Center, Trail Mix Boston and Trail Mix Peninsula retail stores, ski areas, and the small-town charm of historic downtown Peninsula.
Brandywine Falls is a 65-foot waterfall carved by Brandywine Creek in the heart of Cuyahoga Valley National Park, making it one of the park’s most treasured sites. Visitors can take the boardwalk and staircase that leads to the waterfall’s gorge to see the waterfall as it cascades, as wells as close look at the Berea Sandstone that is unique to the area and has been used as a construction material used in buildings and canal locks. The moisture from the falls give life to a variety of moss and eastern hemlocks along the gorge, as well as red maple trees which flame with color in the fall months.
Early settlers in the valley used the falls for their power, with the first saw mill being built George Wallace in 1814. Later, grist and wool mills were created, as the Village of Brandywine grew around the places of work becoming one of the earliest communities to emerge in the Cuyahoga Valley. Today, the village is gone except for the James Wallace house, built by George’s son, which is bed & breakfast and has been renamed The Inn at Brandywine Falls.
Everett Covered Bridge
Artists, photographers, and historians love to visit Everett Covered Bridge, which crosses Furnace Run, as it is the only remaining covered bridge in Summit County. The bridge played an important role in the 19th-century transportation system enabling merchants to access the Ohio & Erie Canal from beyond the river when creek crossings posed a challenge for early settlers.
In fact, local lore describes how the Everett Covered Bridge came into existence. It is said that John Gilson lost his life one winter’s night in 1877 when trying to cross the Furnace Run Creek after visiting friends with his wife. A winter storm had caused the waters to rise, and John Gilson lost his footing, fell into the icy creek, and wasn’t found for days. In the 19th century, Everett Covered Bridge was one of over 2,000 in Ohio, making it the number one state in covered-bridge construction whose support comes from a framework of beams. The builders of Everett Covered Bridge used a truss pattern patented by Robert W. Smith of Tipp City, Ohio, in 1867. hemlocks along the gorge, as well as red maple trees which flame with color in the fall months.