Cuyahoga Valley National Park: A Visitor’s Guide

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

cuyahoga valley national park
Simon/Flickr/CC by 2.0

The Cuyahoga Valley National Park was authorized as a National Recreation Area on December 27, 1974. The park’s name was changed to Cuyahoga Valley National Park on October 11, 2000. The park is located in northeastern Ohio, between Cleveland and Akron and encompasses 33,000 acres of pastoral valley along 22 miles of the Cuyahoga River. Approximately 18,000 acres are owned by the National Park Service. Local public agencies own 9,000 of the remaining acres, and the balance is privately owned. Cuyahoga Valley National Park features the river and its floodplain, steep and gentle valley walls forested by deciduous and evergreen woods, and numerous tributaries and their ravines.

arrow-icon  Phone Number: 330/657-2752

arrow-icon  Park Hours:  Park opens daily. Some areas close at dusk.

arrow-icon  When to Go: Busiest July and August. Least crowded January and February.

arrow-icon  Helpful Links:

arrow-icon  What to Do: Bicycling, cross-country skiing, hiking, a scenic railroad, snowshoeing, wildlife viewing, bird-watching.

arrow-icon  Facilities: Five visitor centers, 183 miles of hiking trails, 54 miles of bridle trails, 20 miles of Ohio & Erie, Towpath Trail. Book-and-gift shops, meeting rooms, reservable picnic shelters.

arrow-icon  Programs/Events: Interpretive programs year-round.

arrow-icon  Address: Boston Mill Visitor Center (main visitor center): 6947 Riverview Road, Peninsula 44264

arrow-icon  Directions: Choose Starting Point  national parks

arrow-icon  Number of Visitors/Year:
145,929 (Year 2018)

arrow-icon  Fees and Permits:  There is no entrance fee for Congaree National Park.

  Accessibility: Most of the park is unimproved but the area around the Harry Hampton Visitor Center is wheelchair accessible. The 2.4-mile boardwalk trail is wheelchair and stroller accessible.

arrow-icon  Pets: Pets are welcome but must be restrained on a leash, never left unattended, and owners are responsible for removing pet waste.

photos-national parks  See Photos.

Major Attractions

In spite of being surrounded by urban areas, Cuyahoga Valley National Park offers several attractions that may surprise you.

Visit the Brandywine Falls: The 65-foot waterfall is one of the park’s several waterfalls and among the most popular sites in the park. You can go straight to the Brandywine Falls or first walk the Brandywine Gorge Loop and get to the waterfall at the end of the 1.4-mile trail.

The Ledges: Also known as the Ritchie Ledges, is an interesting geological formation. To enjoy the Ledges one can walk the 1.8-mile Ledges Trail, which runs alongside and around the Ledges.

Beaver Marsh: If you enjoy watching birds and other wildlife, your best bet is visiting Beaver Lake. Beaver Lake used to be a junkyard prior to the establishment of Cuyahoga Valley National Park but now is a clean habitat for waterfowl. Beaver Lake is located on the Towpath Trail and is easily accessible.

Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad: The scenic railroad is a reminder of what Cuyahoga Valleys used to be prior to the park. The railroad was used to transport coal from Tuscarawas River Valley the cities of Akron and Cleveland. This scenic railroad is perhaps the park’s biggest attractions. Riding the train is a must-do on a visit to the park.

Ohio & Erie Canal Topath Trail: Some call this trail “absolutely gorgeous” and the biggest attraction of the park along with the Scenic Railroad. In fact, both this trail and the railroad run largely alongside through the park. The Topath Trail is accessible at various points and can be hiked in portions. This trail runs along the Cuyahoga River.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park’s Summary Reviews

The following are summaries of actual reviews made by visitors to Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

What is good:

So much to do, I’ve lived close to here for over a year and still haven’t seen all of the park. Amazing staff and volunteers as well.

HIGHLY accessible from the freeway and the towpath is wheelchair and stroller friendly, runs through the entire park. The trails are well kept and are very accessible. Great park for kids and less mobile people.

The scenery in early fall is astonishing. You can picnic, hike, or even just drive through one of the most beautiful places in all of OHIO.

The trails are in very good shape. They have a bit of everything for hikers of all ability levels.

I love this place. A beautiful variety of trees. The falls are hypnotic. Listening to the birds and seeing the sun filter through the trees.

This is one of the best parks in Northeast Ohio. If you love waterfalls and hiking trails this is definitely one spot you need to check out if you haven’t already.

Beautiful and well-maintained park. We took a train ride through the park in the afternoon, which I highly recommend. A lot of wine!

What is not so good:

Spent 200 dollars on a table in 1st class, saw nothing but some trees and a sewer pipe, a major RIP Off.

This park is nothing but fields. It doesn’t offer any extraordinary wildlife or natural features.

Ticks ticks ticks. Started out on the Buckeye trailhead. Less than 500′ in me my wife and our dogs were overcome with ticks.

Worst national park I have visited. Not sure why it is called a national park.

Great park, however, you can’t find trails using Google maps. The park and bike trails are not on google maps or website. Very poor job.

Food and drinks were ridiculously high. Their big screens are hideous! I won’t go back!

Appreciate the efforts to restore this area to nature, but it is a little early for it to earn national park status. There is hardly any wilderness here at all, it is very developed.

Scenic railroad ride saw more buildings than trees or wildlife, and the conductor showed us that Akron pumps all its waste up to where we were to dump it into the river. Lovely.

Read more about other national parks: