Top 10 Best Cuyahoga Valley National Park Trails

Written by William Lee

Located between Akron, Canton, and Cleveland, Cuyahoga Valley National Park offers an array of scenic trails perfect for hiking enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. With lush forests, stunning waterfalls, and diverse wildlife, these trails showcase the natural beauty of Ohio. Here are the top 10 trails in Cuyahoga Valley National Park, each offering their unique experience and conveniently located. These are the top 10 best Cuyahoga Valley National Park trails.

Brandywine Falls
Brandywine Falls

1. Brandywine Gorge Trail

  • Distance: 1.4 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Time to complete – 75 minutes
  • Highlights: Brandywine Falls, boardwalks, scenic views
  • Distance from Cleveland: 25 miles
  • Distance from Akron: 15 miles
  • Distance from Canton: 35 miles
  • Location – 8176 Brandywine Road, Sagamore Hills, Ohio 44067

The Brandywine Gorge Trail is the most popular trail in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, featuring the stunning 65-foot Brandywine Falls. The trail offers beautiful boardwalks and bridges, providing views of the waterfall and surrounding gorge. This trail is unique for its accessibility and the opportunity to view the waterfall from different angles, including an up-close view via the boardwalk. The falls are especially impressive in spring when the water flow is at its peak. Keep an eye out for local wildlife, such as white-tailed deer and various bird species. During winter, the frozen falls create a magical icy spectacle, adding a different dimension to the hike.

Ledges Trail
Ledges Trail

2. Ledges Trail

  • Distance: 2.2 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Time to Complete – 55 minutes
  • Highlights: Rock formations, overlook, Icebox Cave
  • Distance from Cleveland: 30 miles
  • Distance from Akron: 18 miles
  • Distance from Canton: 38 miles
  • Location – 405 Truxell Road, Peninsula, Ohio 44264

Ledges Trail is famous for its sandstone cliffs and rock formations. The trail loops through the forest, leading to a breathtaking overlook offering panoramic views of the valley. The Icebox Cave is another highlight, providing a cool retreat in the summer and an interesting geological feature. This trail is particularly unique for its diverse plant life and the dramatic contrast between the rocky ledges and the lush forest. The towering cliffs and large boulders provide a rugged terrain that is both challenging and rewarding for hikers. In autumn, the trail offers stunning foliage views, making it a must-visit during the fall season.

Virginia Kendall Lake
Virginia Kendall Lake

3. Virginia Kendall Lake Trail

  • Distance: 1.5 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Time to Complete – 1 hrs and 47 minutes
  • Highlights: Lake views, birdwatching, serene environment
  • Distance from Cleveland: 32 miles
  • Distance from Akron: 20 miles
  • Distance from Canton: 40 miles
  • Location – 1000 Truxell Road, Peninsula, Ohio 44264

For a peaceful and scenic hike, the Virginia Kendall Lake Trail is ideal. This easy loop trail circles around Kendall Lake, providing serene water views and excellent opportunities for birdwatching. The area is a habitat for various waterfowl and other bird species, making it a paradise for bird enthusiasts. The trail’s gentle terrain and tranquil setting make it perfect for families and those looking for a relaxing outdoor experience. Fishing is also popular at Kendall Lake, and the surrounding area offers picnic spots where visitors can enjoy a meal while taking in the scenic beauty.

Blue Hen Falls
Blue Hen Falls

4. Blue Hen Falls Trail

  • Distance: 3 miles (round trip)
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Time to Complete – 1 hrs and 14 minutes
  • Highlights: Waterfalls, forest scenery, bridges
  • Distance from Cleveland: 25 miles
  • Distance from Akron: 12 miles
  • Distance from Canton: 35 miles
  • Location – 2001 Boston Mills Rd Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Brecksville, OH 44141

Blue Hen Falls Trail is a moderately challenging hike that rewards hikers with a beautiful waterfall. The trail winds through a lush forest, crossing small streams and picturesque bridges. Blue Hen Falls is especially captivating after a rainfall, with the water cascading down the rock face in a serene and picturesque manner. The trail also offers the chance to spot various wildlife, including salamanders and small mammals. The trail continues past Blue Hen Falls to Buttermilk Falls, providing an extended hiking option for those seeking more adventure. The surrounding forest is dense with a variety of tree species, adding to the natural beauty of the hike.

Oak Hill Trail
Oak Hill Trail

5. Oak Hill Trail

  • Distance: 1.8 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Time to Complete – 31 minutes
  • Highlights: Rolling meadows, woodlands, wildlife
  • Distance from Cleveland: 28 miles
  • Distance from Akron: 10 miles
  • Distance from Canton: 30 miles
  • Location – 3901 Oak Hill Rd Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Peninsula, OH 44264

Oak Hill Trail offers a gentle hike through rolling meadows and dense woodlands. The trail is rich in wildlife, making it a great choice for nature enthusiasts. Birdwatchers can spot various species, while deer and other woodland creatures are commonly seen along the trail. The peaceful environment and scenic views make it perfect for a leisurely walk or a quiet retreat. The meadows along the trail are particularly beautiful in the spring and summer when wildflowers are in bloom, creating a colorful and vibrant landscape. The trail is also known for its historical significance, with remnants of old farmsteads and stone walls providing a glimpse into the area’s past.

Towpath Trail
Towpath Trail

6. Towpath Trail

  • Distance: 87 miles (full length)
  • Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
  • Highlights: Historic canal, wildlife, varied landscapes
  • Distance from Cleveland: 0 miles (runs through Cleveland)
  • Distance from Akron: 0 miles (runs through Akron)
  • Distance from Canton: 20 miles to the nearest access point
  • Location: The Towpath Trail runs between 1468 Columbus Rd in Cleveland and Zoar Valley Trail at RT 800 in Zoarville, with parking available at the northern end of the route.
    • Additional parking can be found at:
      • Cuyahoga Valley National Park, 1550 Boston Mills Rd (Penninsula)
      • 4503 Erie Ave NW (Canal Fulton)
      • Craig Pittman Memorial Park, 8042-8062 Hudson Dr SW (Navarre)

The Towpath Trail is the backbone of the park, stretching for 87 miles along the historic Ohio & Erie Canal. This multi-use trail offers various access points and is perfect for long hikes, biking, and exploring the park’s rich history. Along the trail, you’ll encounter diverse landscapes, including wetlands, forests, and open fields. The trail is unique for its historical significance and the opportunity to see remnants of the canal’s past, including old locks and canal boats. The Towpath Trail also passes through several small towns and communities, providing opportunities to explore local shops and restaurants. The trail is well-maintained and accessible year-round, making it a popular choice for both locals and visitors.

Plateau Trail
Plateau Trail

7. Plateau Trail

  • Distance: 4.9 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Time to Complete – 1 hrs and 40 minutes
  • Highlights: Diverse ecosystems, wetlands, wildlife
  • Distance from Cleveland: 28 miles
  • Distance from Akron: 12 miles
  • Distance from Canton: 32 miles
  • Location – Oak Hill Road, Peninsula, OH 44264

The Plateau Trail is a longer, moderately difficult hike that takes you through diverse ecosystems, including wetlands, forests, and meadows. The trail is known for its rich biodiversity and opportunities to spot various wildlife. Hikers can enjoy scenic views of wetland areas, where they might see beavers, herons, and other wetland species. The trail’s varied landscapes and the chance to observe wildlife make it a favorite for many visitors. The Plateau Trail also features several boardwalks that provide a closer look at the wetland habitats without disturbing the delicate ecosystem. In the spring, the trail is alive with the sounds of frogs and birds, creating a vibrant and immersive natural experience.

Everett Covered Bridge Trail
Everett Covered Bridge Trail

8. Everett Covered Bridge Trail

  • Distance: 2.4 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Elevation Gain: 100 feet
  • Time to Complete – 53 minutes
  • Highlights: Historic covered bridge, river views, forest scenery
  • Distance from Cleveland: 27 miles
  • Distance from Akron: 10 miles
  • Distance from Canton: 30 miles
  • Location – 2370 Everett Rd, Peninsula, OH 44264

The Everett Covered Bridge Trail is an easy hike that takes you to one of the most photographed landmarks in the park, the Everett Covered Bridge. The trail winds through a picturesque forest and offers beautiful views of Furnace Run, a small river that flows beneath the bridge. The trail is perfect for a leisurely walk and provides several spots for picnicking. The historic bridge, which dates back to the 19th century, is a great backdrop for photos and adds a touch of history to your hike.

Tree Farm Trail
Tree Farm Trail

9. Tree Farm Trail

  • Distance: 2.75 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation Gain: 150 feet
  • Time to Complete – 57 minutes
  • Highlights: Scenic fields, forested areas, wildlife
  • Distance from Cleveland: 25 miles
  • Distance from Akron: 15 miles
  • Distance from Canton: 35 miles
  • Location – 2167 Major Rd, Peninsula, OH 44264

Tree Farm Trail offers a moderate hike through a variety of landscapes, including open fields, dense forests, and areas planted with Christmas trees. The trail is popular in winter when the snow-covered fields create a beautiful, serene landscape. Wildlife is abundant along the trail, with opportunities to see deer, birds, and other forest creatures. The diverse scenery and moderate elevation gain make this trail a favorite for those looking for a scenic and varied hike.

Boston Run Trail
Boston Run Trail

10. Boston Run Trail

  • Distance: 3.4 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation Gain: 250 feet
  • Time to Complete – 1 hrs and 7 minutes
  • Highlights: Scenic valley views, forested areas, wildlife
  • Distance from Cleveland: 26 miles
  • Distance from Akron: 14 miles
  • Distance from Canton: 34 miles
  • Location – 500 W. Streetsboro Rd, Peninsula, OH 44264

The Boston Run Trail offers a moderately challenging hike through the scenic Boston Run Valley. The trail winds through forested areas and open meadows, providing beautiful views of the valley and opportunities to see wildlife. The trail is particularly stunning in the fall when the leaves change color, creating a vibrant and colorful landscape. The moderate elevation gain and varied terrain make this trail a great choice for those looking for a longer hike with rewarding views.

Additional Tips for Hiking in Cuyahoga Valley National Park

  1. Seasonal Considerations:
    • Spring: Spring is a fantastic time to visit the park as the trails come alive with blooming wildflowers and flowing waterfalls. However, be prepared for muddy conditions on some trails.
    • Summer: Summer offers lush green landscapes and warm weather, making it ideal for long hikes and picnics. Ensure you bring plenty of water and sunscreen.
    • Autumn: Fall is arguably the most beautiful time to hike in the park, with vibrant foliage creating stunning views. The cooler temperatures make for comfortable hiking conditions.
    • Winter: Winter transforms the park into a snowy wonderland. Trails like Brandywine Gorge and Blue Hen Falls are especially magical with frozen waterfalls and snow-covered landscapes. Ensure you wear appropriate footwear for icy conditions.
  2. Wildlife Watching:
    • The park is home to a diverse range of wildlife. Keep an eye out for white-tailed deer, foxes, raccoons, and a variety of bird species. Early morning or late afternoon hikes increase your chances of spotting wildlife.
    • Always maintain a safe distance from wildlife and avoid feeding animals. Carry binoculars for a closer look at birds and other creatures without disturbing them.
  3. Trail Safety:
    • Stay on marked trails to protect both yourself and the natural environment. Some areas may be prone to erosion, and staying on the trail helps preserve the landscape.
    • Bring a map and familiarize yourself with the trail route before setting out. Cell phone reception can be spotty in some areas of the park.
    • Pack essentials such as water, snacks, a first aid kit, and a flashlight. Weather can change quickly, so dress in layers and be prepared for rain or sudden temperature drops.
  4. Accessibility:
    • Many of the trails in Cuyahoga Valley National Park are accessible to people of all abilities. Trails like the Towpath Trail offer smooth, wide paths suitable for wheelchairs and strollers.
    • The park also provides accessible restrooms and parking areas. Check the National Park Service website for detailed information on accessible facilities.
  5. Photography Tips:
    • The diverse landscapes and seasonal changes in the park provide endless opportunities for photography. Early morning and late afternoon light create the best conditions for capturing stunning photos.
    • Bring a tripod for stable shots, especially when photographing waterfalls and low-light scenes in the forest. Don’t forget to capture the small details, like the intricate patterns on leaves or the reflections in puddles and streams.
  6. Local Attractions:
    • While visiting Cuyahoga Valley National Park, take some time to explore nearby attractions. The park is close to charming towns like Peninsula, which offers quaint shops, restaurants, and cultural sites.

At Chima Travel, we are proud to have the Cuyahoga Valley National Park in our backyard. Our travel agency loves to help people plan trips all over the world, whether they be cruises, all inclusive vacations, trips to Europe, or luxury train adventures. Check out our blog for more content.

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