Cuyahoga Valley National Park is located in northeast Ohio, where this park has you walking along the beautiful Cuyahoga river, hiking through impressive rock formations and trekking to some absolutely stunning waterfalls. It even has a working train running through it! I spent the first 22 years of my life in Ohio and had never been to Cuyahoga Valley National Park. I still can not believe it took me so long to get there because it is so lovely! And great for kids! Ohio does not have mountains like the Rockies or bears like the Smokies, but it should definitely not be missed😊 Below is a two day itinerary, which will take you to almost every corner of the park! Enjoy!
Entrance Fee: FREE!
Lodging: The Inn at Brandywine Falls and the Stanford House are the only lodging options onsite. The park is just south of Cleveland and north of Akron so either city would provide you with excellent hotel options. Right outside the park- Brecksville, OH and Richfield, OH would both have hotel options as well. There are no campgrounds or camping available inside the park. Here is a list of campgrounds near the park if you are looking for a camping option- Camping Near Cuyahoga.
Dining: Picnic tables, shelters and grill space are available throughout the park. There is no sit-down restaurants in the park, however, there are several places to get snacks and the Boston Store has lunch items for sale. Any of the lodging cities mentioned above will also have great dining options.
Must Know Before You Go:
1. This park is perfect for all ages and is one of the most accessible parks I’ve been to.
2. Almost every trailhead has a bathroom and picnic area.
3. All trails are well marked and well maintained and hiking boots are not necessarily needed if you don’t already have them.
Cell Service: We had decent cell service in most areas of the park.
2 Day Itinerary
Boston Mill Visitor Center– Stop in the visitor center for a map of the area and learn a little about the history of the original general store that has become what is now the visitor center.
-Blue Hen Falls– This is a 3-mile roundtrip hike. Parking is right at the Boston Mill Visitor Center. The turn around point is the beautiful Blue Hen Falls.
Ledges Area– the parking lot is right next to a large meadow. There are many tables for eating and restrooms here. This is where we ate our lunch and then took our cooler back to the car before starting the hike. Plus, the kids loved just running all over the field.
-Ledges Trail– 2.2-mile hike. This was such a cool area of the park. The kids loved playing and running through all the large rock formations and tunnels. There is some fun geology history to learn about on this hike. It is also significantly cooler on this trail even on the warm summer day we visited. The cool boulders and forest were a nice reprieve from the hot sun.
Kendall Lake Area- This would also be a nice lunch spot if you wanted to stop here first and then travel on to the Ledges area. You can also fish at the lake if that is something your family enjoys!
-Lake Trail– This 1.5-mile loop trail is considered easy. The terrain is dirt so I would say no strollers especially if it has rained recently.
Beaver Marsh Area– This was our last stop of the day and we almost skipped it. What we would have missed! There is parking by the Ira trailhead and then we jumped on the Towpath Trail and walked through the marsh that way. It is a gorgeous, easy, stroller accessible walk, and we were there in the evening, so we had the opportunity to see so much active wildlife! You do not want to miss this😊
Brandywine Falls Area- There is a parking lot here and restrooms before you start your hike.
–Brandywine Gorge Trail-If you do nothing else at Cuyahoga Valley, walk this trail. It is a 1.5-mile loop that starts at the top of the waterfall, you then walk across the top of it and head down the other side of the falls. This 60-ft waterfall is quite impressive. Most of this trail is easy to walk but because of the elevation changes and some rough terrain in the middle I would say it is moderate in difficulty. Farther down the trail the water is shallow and a great place for the kids to get wet walking through the water and my kiddos had so much fun skipping rocks and going a little off trail.
Canal Exploration Station-This is at the North end of the park and is usually open every day from 10am-4pm (always double check hours before you visit). This is a fun place to learn about the historic canals, how they functioned and their importance to Ohio.
Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad– I have three kids who love trains so this was a must! It runs parallel to the Towpath trail which runs the length of the park so you can take the train one way and rent bikes to bike the Towpath trail back to your car! There are four boarding stations, and the train stops at each station twice a day so be sure to check times the day of your visit. Bike rentals are available at Century Cycles in the Village of Peninsula. Peninsula is one of the train stops as well, so if you get on the train at Boston (near the Canal Exploration Center), you could ride the train to Peninsula and then rent bikes to get back up to Boston via the paved Towpath Trail that runs along the canal.
It was time to head home for us but there was still plenty we did not explore if you have more time! Hope you have a wonderful adventure!