Hi guys! My name is Lauren Welner and welcome to my article on Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio. I grew up in Akron, Ohio and work as a psychiatric nurse practitioner. In my free time I love to go hiking, immerse myself in nature and take photographs of beautiful landscapes.
I moved to Vancouver, WA six months ago and have loved my transition to the Pacific Northwest. But growing up in Akron meant that I grew up in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. From a young age, my parents took us hiking on the trails and we would go on bike rides down the Towpath Trail.
Some of my favorite memories at the park include exploring the nooks and crannies of the Virginia Kendall Ledges with my younger brother and following it up with lunch at the Winking Lizard Tavern in Peninsula.
Visiting Cuyahoga Valley National Park in December, 2020
My most recent trip to Cuyahoga Valley in December, 2020 was special as it was my first time returning home after being away for six months. Not only did I see the trails covered in snow but it felt like I was seeing it for the first time. As a photographer I have shot the same places over and over – so it was refreshing to see the park through a fresh set of eyes.
On this trip I visited Virginia Kendall Ledges and Blue Hen Falls. I also had the chance to hike one of my favorite trails which is the Oak Hill/Plateau Trail. The trail is famous for its symmetrical aisle of perfectly line up trees.
Of the places I visited recently, Brandywine Falls was my favorite. I think this place is the quintessential landmark of Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Even though the trail is always busy, it’s easy to see why because the falls are stunning! The 60-foot cascade never fails to take my breath away.
During the warmer months you can descend down to the base of the river and hike up to the bottom of the falls through the water to get a closer look. In winter, when the temperatures drop below freezing, the waterfall can freeze over which is quite the sight! Each season is amazing here.
Top 5 Natural Attractions of Cuyahoga Valley National Park
The top five attractions of Cuyahoga Valley National Park in my opinion are: Brandywine Falls, Blue Hen Falls, Virginia Kendall Ledges, Kendall Lake and the Oak Hill/Plateau Trail. For first-time visitors to the national park, you can’t really go wrong with doing any five of these experiences.
If you are feeling super adventurous the Buckeye Trail runs through the park. This is a 1444-mile loop! The Towpath Trail is another popular place especially with hikers and bikers. I can also recommend visiting Everett Covered Bridge and the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. Then there is the Cuyahoga River, a fantastic river to kayak down in the summertime!
Where to Stay when Visiting Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Since Cuyahoga Valley is located in such close proximity to the city, the best places to stay in my opinion are in downtown Cleveland. Not only will you escape to the beauty of nature but you will also experience the hustle and bustle of the downtown culture, restaurant scene and Lake Erie.
There are many high-end, mid-range and budget places to stay in Cleveland. If you are looking for something that is less expensive, staying in the nearby cities of Independence or Akron are also good options.
Need to Know Before you Go
Cuyahoga Valley National Park can be enjoyed in any season if you are well prepared. During winter it can get cold with a lot of ice and snow. The summertime months can get hot and humid. Appalachian Outfitters is a great place to load up on clothing, hiking gear and apparel if you need any.
Always practice Leave No Trace principles to keep our parks beautiful. You can get a lot of useful info as well as maps and hiking trail recommendations at the visitor center. Also, to note, Cuyahoga Valley National Park is free to visit and doesn’t require a national parks pass to enter.
Finally, on your travels through Ohio be sure to check out some other places like Brecksville and Bedford Reservations, Viaduct Park, Hocking Hills State Park, Edgewater Beach, Mentor Headlands and Lake Erie. They will blow you away just as much as Cuyahoga Valley National Park!