If you did not know there was a National Park in Ohio it is understandable since Cuyahoga Valley National Park was not officially designated until 2000. It is centered around the historic Ohio and Erie Canal, which opened in 1827 to connect Akron to the port of Cleveland on Lake Erie. Cuyahoga is an American Indian word meaning “crooked” and you will see why if you walk or bike down the 19-mile Towpath Trail where mules once pulled line boats through a series of locks (be sure to stop at Canal Visitor Center at Lock 38). If you plan it right, you can take your bike on board the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad for a cheap one-way ride.
Learn more in our guidebook to the National Parks, A Park to Yourself: Finding Adventure in America’s National Parks (available on Amazon).
Brandywine Falls, Lock 38, Hunt Farm, Everett Road Covered Bridge, Gorge Parkway
In the park’s southern end near Akron-Canton, you will find a great blue heron rookery and beaver marsh along the crooked Cuyahoga River. In the central section, you must stop to see the cascades of Brandywine Falls (see it depicted below in our original logo). Closer to Cleveland, discover the Bedford Reservation along Gorge Parkway, including beautiful Bridal Veil Falls. For a little culture in the outdoors, look up the summer schedule for Blossom Music Center or Porthouse Theatre. Fall is an especially popular time to visit when the leaves change, but with over 100 miles of trails within the park, there is plenty to explore in every season.
We highly recommend a hike on the two-mile Ledges Loop Trail where mossy sandstone cliffs are cloaked by a dense forest of hemlock and hardwood trees. Once a popular destination on the trail, Ice Box Cave is closed to protect the resident bat population, but similar spots nearby still offer a chance for exploration.
In the southern end of the park, Everett Road Covered Bridge has been rebuilt to demonstrate this once common construction method.
All roads paved
There is no official campground in the park, but there are a variety of other lodging options including the historic Inn at Brandywine Falls.
Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site (Pennsylvania)
James A. Garfield National Historic Site (Ohio)
First Ladies National Historic Site (Ohio)
Explore More – Who manages the Hale Farm and Village where costumed re-enactors bring history to life?
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