Thursday, August 21, 2014

Best trails to see Cuyahoga NP’s wonders

Brandywine Falls. Photo courtesy of
Cuyahoga Valley NPS.
Among the best ways to see Cuyahoga Valley National Park’s top sights is via a day hike. Just four short trails will allow you to enjoy each of the park’s highlights – waterfalls, rural farms of a century past, a historic canal, and a boulder-strewn cliff.

Among the most popular Cuyahoga Valley waterfalls is Brandywine Falls, which drops 65 feet. The 1.5-mile Brandywine Gorge Trail loops to the falls then back to the trailhead with a bridge over the rier. The area surrounding the falls is gorgeous in October beneath autumn leaves.

Rural farms of a century past
Historic bridges, homes, and other structures dating to the 1800s dot the national park; among them is the Stanford House and farm, settled in 1806. The Stanford Trail heads 1.1-miles one way through the old farmstead to a scenic pond.

Ohio and Erie Canal
Built during the late 1820s, the canal connected Lake Erie and the Ohio River, opening Ohio to settlement from the eastern states. The Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail follows 20 miles of where mules on the shore pulled boats along the waterway. A number of access points creates a variety of day hiking options.

The Ledges
This boulder-strewn cliff offers the perfect spot to explore and enjoy a sunset over the wooded valley below. The overlook on the Ledges Trail is a mere 200-yard hike, but before settling in to relax, head over to the Ice Box Cave for a 1-mile round trip.

A spur off the north end of the Old Carriage Trail offers great views of Ohio & Erie Canal. From the Station Road Bridge Trailhead near Brecksville, go south on the Towpath and turn left/east onto the Old Carriage Trail, which heads uphill; in 0.25 miles, take the spur trail to the overlook for a 3-miles round trip.

Learn about other great national park day hiking trails in my Best Sights to See at America’s National Parks guidebook.