Cuyahoga Valley is the only national park in the state of Ohio. It
preserves and reclaims the rural landscape along the Cuyahoga
River between Akron and Cleveland. Cuyahoga Valley was originally
designated as a National Recreation Area in 1974, then redesignated as a
national park 26 years later in 2000. Cuyahoga Valley is a patchwork of
natural areas, villages, and small farms. Remains of the Ohio & Erie
Canal, which traveled through the valley in the 19th and early 20th centuries,
offer a glimpse into the history of how the country was transformed.
Getting there ...
The main purpose of this trip was to attend
Iris's graduation at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). We decided to
fly out a couple of days earlier to visit Cuyahoga Valley, which is only about 2
hours away from CMU. We had an early 5:30AM flight from San Francisco to
Cleveland with a transfer in Denver. It was the first flight we took since
the pandemic started in early 2020, and we could see people were starting to go
back to normal life and travel (busy airports, full flights, and scarce
availability of rental cars...).
- Brandywine Falls
After a short break in the hotel just outside the
Cuyahoga Valley National Park, we headed to the park in the late afternoon
at ~7PM. The 65-foot (20 m) tall Brandywine Falls is one of the
most popular waterfalls and attractions in the park. It is the tallest
waterfall in the park and also in the northeast Ohio. A short
boardwalk leads to a nice view platform to see the waterfall.
- Beaver Marsh
The Beaver Marsh is among the most diverse natural
communities in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The Beaver Marsh
was created by beavers that moved in along remnants of the Ohio & Erie
Canal. The area had been a farm and later a junkyard, which was cleaned up
by a community effort. Today the area offers visitors the chance to explore
a wetland first-hand and up close by a boardwalk through the marsh.
- We had a late dinner after 9PM (but it was a normal time for us from
California). It was our first meal in a restaurant for more than 450
days since pandemic shutdown last March.
Day 2 (5/21)...
- Sunrise at Beaver Marsh
I went back to the Beaver Marsh before dawn.
The quiet morning was bathing in a dramatic sunrise sky.
- Great Falls of Tinkers Creek
We started our journey from the
northeastern end, the Great Falls of Tinkers Creek at the Bedford
Reservation. The power of the Great Falls of Tinker's Creek was
harnessed between 1821-1913 for a saw mill, grist mill and electric power
plant. Walking paths and overlooks help connect to the past and
highlight the natural surroundings.
Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad -- Brecksville Station
For more than 100
years, trains have been moving through the scenic wonders of what is now
Cuyahoga Valley National Park. In 1989, a mutually beneficial
partnership began for Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad and the National Park
to provide educational and entertainment programs to enhance the
accessibility of the park. I timed our itinerary so we could capture
the train at the Brecksville Station (9:20AM) under the iconic
Brecksville-Northfield Bridge although we did not plan to ride the train.
- Biking along Ohio&Erie Canal Towpath Trail
Rental bikes are available
at the town of Peninsula (Century Cycles open at 10AM) in the center of the
park. The Towpath Trail follows the historic route of the Ohio &
Erie Canal. The flatness and shadiness of the Towpath Trail makes it a
perfect bike ride to explore the park. We started our bike ride
from Lock #29 trailhead heading south toward the Beaver Marsh.
We were back to Peninsula after 2+ hours (10+ miles) of
smooth bike ride. All restaurants in this small town were very crowded at
this time and we could not find any parking spots. A good thing about a
national park so close to the urban region is that we can just drive 15 minutes
to get out of the park to find plenty of food options nearby.
- Blue Hen Falls
After lunch, we went back to the Boston Mill visitor
center area in the park to take the Buckeye trail to the Blue Hen Falls
(3-mile round-trip). This 15-foot waterfall is a beautiful hike going
through a dense green-ish forest (but it's kind of strange to hear car noise
in such a beautiful forest as the trail sometimes is so close to a highway).
We went down to the creek and walked to the waterfall, and had a good and
cool rest along the creek.
- The Ledges
The striking rock Ledges create a plateau at a high point
in the Cuyahoga Valley uplands. The Ledges Trailhead sits on the top of the
plateau. It circles the plateau and provides stunning views of the Sharon
Sandstone and Conglomerate rock formation. This trail reminded me of
the trees growing out of ruins in
Siem Reap, Cambodia!
Next (5/22) ...
|We started our drive to Pittsburgh
in the morning to meet Iris at CMU.
It's hard to believe that Iris was going to graduate soon....
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