Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Park Profile: Cuyahoga Valley National Park

May 25, 2010, 5:00 pm

Located just outside of Cleveland and Akron, Cuyahoga Valley National Park offers an oasis from the environments that surround it. Since the region was dubbed a national park in 2000 it has grown in popularity and has become the 6th most visited national park in the United States. Named for the Cuyahoga River that runs throughout, Cuyahoga Valley National Park represents an amazing transformation from urban area to recreational area that offers something for any visitor.

History lovers will want to hike or bike along the Towpath of the old Ohio & Erie Canal. The Canal was built in the 1820s and 1830s and was excavated entirely by hand. When completed, this 308-mile waterway connected Lake Erie and the Ohio River and provided a vital link between the Gulf of Mexico and the St. Lawrence Seaway. Visitors to the park today can travel along the Towpath, learn about its construction at the Canal Visitor Center, see old locks along the route and imagine what traveling on a barge was like more than a century ago.

For younger visitors and those without a lot of time to explore, a trip on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad is a great way to see the park. Visitors can hop on and off at any of the stops along the journey to see the park highlights more closely. The railroad also offers one-way fares and storage for bicyclists who want to bike out and ride back. The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad also offers several special events throughout the year, including “Ales on Rails” a beer tasting train ride for adults. Kids and their parents will want to check out “A Day with Thomas” and the “Polar Express”.

For the avid hiker, the park also offers miles of hiking trails through luscious forests and deep valleys, as well as trails to beautiful waterfalls. Blue Hen Falls, Bridal Veil Falls and Brandywine Falls are all popular destinations. Hikers can also travel along parts of the Buckeye Trail, a loop trail, which travels across the entire state of Ohio.

While the park is located adjacent to a large metropolis, it is an urban wildlife sanctuary. Keep an eye out for bald eagles, deer, coyotes, beavers and turtles that inhabit the park. Remember to keep a respectable distance between you and critters for your safety and theirs. Many of them began to re-establish themselves after the area was dubbed a national park.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park is open year-round and admission to the park is free although donations are welcomed and encouraged.  Prices for the scenic railroad vary. For more information, please call (330) 657-2752.