Cuyahoga Valley National Park

We visited Cuyahoga Valley National Park in August 2022 as part of Big Trip #4.

Bugsy in front of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park sign

Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Yosemite… Cuyahoga Valley National Park? Don’t go to Cuyahoga expecting dramatic vistas and crazy wildlife. It’s an urban park, squeezed between towns and along highways, with no escape from the constant drone of traffic. But the woods are pretty, the trails are less-crowded than in the bigger parks, there’s no entrance fee, and dogs are allowed on the trails!

We had a nice visit to the area and are glad we stopped on our way northwest at the start of Big Trip #4, but we wouldn’t make it a destination on its own.

Beers and fried pickles at Bell Tower Brewing

There are no RV campgrounds in the park, so we stayed at a commercial campground nearby. Read our Streetsboro post to learn where we camped, ate, and drank while in the area.

Hiking

Bugsy swimming under Blue Hen Falls
Bugsy enjoying Blue Hen Falls

There are two general clusters of trails in CVNP: in Boston Mill, where the main visitor center is, and near the sweet little village of Peninsula. Here are the trails we did in each area:

Boston Mill

Bugsy in front of Blue Hen Falls
Blue Hen Falls

The trail to Blue Hen Falls is not super scenic, with lots of road noise (this was our first hike in the park, so we were more sensitive to hearing the highways from the trails), a road crossing, and then a walk along the road. But the waterfall is very pretty, with a little pool for a doggy swim. We were surprised at how few people were on this short (just over three miles) trail, after seeing the throngs at the visitor center.

Brandywine Falls at Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Brandywine Falls

The most popular sight in the park is Brandywine Falls, but the parking lot for the Brandywine Falls overlook is currently (as of fall 2022) closed for renovation. Luckily for crowd-averse us, you can hike to Brandywine Falls on the Stanford Trail, and while we were there, we added on the Three Waterfalls Loop. Brandywine Falls is impressive, but the viewing platform at the falls is quite small–how do people comfortably fit when it’s crowded? We didn’t see the other two waterfalls of the Three Waterfalls, presumably due to low water levels, but it was an enjoyable four-mile hike, with the usual traffic noise.

Peninsula

Bugsy hiking the Ledges trail
Ledges Trail

The Ledges Trail was probably our favorite hike in the park. The rock formations are cool, the woods are pretty, and we had a very nice three miles. (Bugsy prefers water hikes, so her favorite was probably Blue Hen Falls.) This trail was moderately crowded on a Thursday morning.

Bugsy and Everett Bridge
Everett Covered Bridge

Our last morning in town, J had a work meeting and needed us out of the Airstream, so she and I did the 2.25-mile Furnace Run Loop. We chose it because Bugsy’s grandmother loves covered bridges, and this hike includes the Everett Covered Bridge, the last one in Summit County. It was a pleasant walk in the woods, with the usual road noise and road crossings with a bonus of an active gun range next door. The bridge is super cute, and Bugsy liked cooling off in Furnace Run.

Non-hiking activities

We didn’t do anything but hike in Cuyahoga Valley, but these other types of fun may be of interest to you:

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