Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio has consistently rated in the top ten most visited national parks in the United States since its inception in 2000, with about 3 million visitors each year.
It’s clear to see why the park is so popular once you’re inside. Rolling hills, expansive woodlands, and a meandering river have sculpted the Cuyahoga Valley over millennia in this tranquil location. All of this contributes to the park’s eerie tranquilly, which is remarkable given its proximity to big cities like Cleveland and Akron. But this has just added to its attractiveness as a haven to get away from the stresses of contemporary life for a while.
This is all you need to know before visiting this National Park, whether you’re traveling for a day or staying for a few days.
How to Get There
Cuyahoga Valley is readily accessible, unlike some national parks that need hours of driving to reach. The park is situated between two large metropolitan regions, 20 miles south of Cleveland and 8 miles north of Akron. This makes arranging a trip quite simple, as there are numerous local hotels and eateries within walking distance.
Take Interstate 77 south from Cleveland to Miller Road (Exit 147), following the signs along the way. Take state highway OH-8 to West Hines Hill Road in Boston Heights and follow the signage to the national park, which is extremely easy to discover.
Best Things to do
Cuyahoga Valley National Park, like most national parks, has enough to see and do. Although there are enough activities and attractions to merit a multi-day visit, most visitors will only spend one day in the park. This is especially true for hikers who wish to cover as much ground as possible on the Cuyahoga Valley’s 125 miles of trails.
There are a variety of mixed-use paths that allow biking, including some unexpectedly fun mountain bike routes, in addition to hiking. Horseback riding paths have been approved by the Park Service, and paddling along the Cuyahoga River is a terrific way to take in the scenery. Many of the paths are also suitable for cross-country skiing in the winter, making this a year-round attraction.
You may catch your breath and relax aboard the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad after a few miles of hiking or biking. The vintage railway follows the river’s channel, taking passengers deep into the surrounding forest and giving them the opportunity to see wildlife. While riding the rails, you may view bald eagles, whitetail deer, beavers, and other creatures. The train excursion takes roughly two and a half hours and is available throughout the year.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park Hiking Trails
Brandywine Gorge Trail
Blue Hen Falls
Where to stay
Unfortunately, camping is no longer permitted within Cuyahoga Valley National Park, while the Ottawa Overlook campground is just outside the park’s boundaries and close enough to hike in. There aren’t many facilities accessible because this is backcountry camping, but you can sign up for a guided trip that teaches campers the ins and outs of backcountry camping. It is free to camp at Ottawa Overlook, but you must first obtain a permit.
Because Cuyahoga Valley is so close to Cleveland and Akron, the majority of park visitors choose to stay in one of those two cities. There are, however, a few possibilities for those who choose to stay inside the park. The Stanford House, Inn at Brandywine Falls, and Cleveland Hostel are the best options.