5 Best Day Hikes in Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Last updated on November 6th, 2022

Table of Contents

Overview

Below are the 5 best day hikes in Cuyahoga National Park! Located between the cities of Cleveland and Akron, OH, Cuyahoga Valley is one of the more uniquely situated national parks in the US. This surprising undeveloped area was saved by conservationists from development and pollution for the sake of you and me. Although it isn’t the hiker’s dream park, there are several trails here worth a weekend trip. Official Website.

StateOhio
Nearest Metro AreaCleveland, OH
Area Size32,572 acres
EstablishedOctober 11, 2000
Hiking Trails125 miles

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Trailhead Traveler’s Recommended Hikes in Cuyahoga Valley National Park

1. Ledges Trail

This scenic trail, easily top of the best hikes in Cuyahoga Valley National Park, passes through sandstone cliffs known as Ritchie Ledges. Make sure you bring some sure-footed hiking boots as you’ll pass over rocky ground and a rock staircase. You can continue on the Pine Grove Trail to make the loop longer. The trailhead is located at the Ledges Parking Area off Kendall Park Road.

  • 2.2 miles – Loop
  • 100′ gain
  • Easy
Best hikes in cuyahoga valley national park
Photo by Chris Haffler

2. Brandywine Gorge Loop

The 65′ Brandywine Falls is one of the largest and most beautiful in the park and one of the park’s most popular attractions. This trail and the nearby boardwalk will put you right next to the falls. The trailhead is located at the Brandywine Falls Parking Area off of Brandywine Road.

  • 1.4 miles – Loop
  • 150′ gain
  • Easy
Best hikes in cuyahoga valley national park
Photo by Chris Haffler

3. Blue Hen Falls Trail

This trail will lead you to both the Blue Hen Falls and the slightly more impressive Buttermilk Falls. Go right after a rainfall to get the best of what these 2 falls have to offer. The trailhead is located on Boston Mills Road, there is a small overflow lot where you can park.

  • 1.5 miles – Out and back
  • 200′ gain
  • Easy
Best hikes in cuyahoga valley national park
Photo by Chris Haffler

4. Deer Lick Cave Loop

This is a more secluded trail through a scenic wooded area. The trailhead is located off of Valley Parkway.

  • 3.5 miles – Loop
  • 500′ gain
  • Moderate
Best hikes in cuyahoga valley national park
Photo by Chris Haffler

5. Towpath Trail

The Ohio & Erie Towpath Trail travels the entire Cuyahoga Valley National Park from North to South. You can decide to hike/bike the entire length of the park or just a portion along the Cuyahoga River. Within the park, trailheads are located at either Rockside Station or Botzum Station, although you can access the trail from several other points along the way.

  • 21 miles – Point to point
  • 200′ gain
  • Easy
Best hikes in cuyahoga valley national park
Photo by Kevin Payravi, Wikimedia Commons, distributed under a CC-BY-SA-3.0 license

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Best hikes in cuyahoga valley national park
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Best hikes in cuyahoga valley national park

 
— Update: 02-01-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article 23 Cuyahoga Valley National Park Trails You Shouldn’t Miss from the website www.zenlifeandtravel.com for the keyword best hikes in cuyahoga valley national park.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park is located in the Cuyahoga Valley, an area that stretches between Cleveland and Akron. This National Park covers over 50 square miles of land and is the only National Park located in Ohio.

Hiking is one of the area’s most popular activities with over 125 miles of trails throughout the park. Even though the park is close to metropolitan Cleveland, it feels worlds away.

Try out one of these 23 Cuyahoga Valley National Park trails the next time you’re looking for great hiking in Ohio.

Best hikes in cuyahoga valley national park

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Cuyahoga Valley National Park At a Glance

Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area was originally established in 1974. It was designated as a National Park in 2000 when the name was officially changed to Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Today this area which is full of thick forests, gorges, wetlands, and waterfalls, is a fantastic place to visit in Ohio. It can be a destination on its own, but it also makes a great day trip from Columbus, Cleveland, Toledo, Pittsburgh, and other nearby cities.

Contact Information: 440-717-3890 | website

Boston Mill Visitor Center: 6947 Riverview Road, Peninsula, Ohio 44264

  • Normal Hours: Open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • During the summer of 2020, Park Rangers and trail maps will be available outside by the Visitor Center parking lot from 10 a.m to 4 p.m. Bathrooms (port-a-potties) are available and the gift shop is open for credit card-only purchases.

Parking: Available at the Visitor Center and Trailheads

Cost: Free

Driving distance from nearby cities:

  • Cleveland, Ohio: 25 minutes
  • Columbus, Ohio: 2 hours
  • Cincinnati, Ohio: 3.5 hours
  • Toledo, Ohio: 2 hours
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: 2 hours
  • Detroit, Michigan: 2.75 hours
Best hikes in cuyahoga valley national park
Cuyahoga Valley National Park is located in Northeast Ohio, just outside of Cleveland.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park Trails

There are a lot of trails in the area so it can be a bit overwhelming the first time you visit. You won’t be able to do everyone on a short trip, so just pick a few and start exploring!

Some of the most popular Cuyahoga Valley National Park trails are in the Brandywine and Ledges area, so if you’re not sure where to start, those would be good areas to check out first.

1. Brandywine Gorge Loop [Brandywine Falls]

Brandywine Falls is one of the main attractions at Cuyahoga Valley National Park so it’s a great place to start your day. To get to the falls, you need to go down several long sets of steps so it’s not great if you have mobility issues. After enjoying the falls, you can set out on the relatively easy Brandywine Gorge Loop.

  • Length: 1.4 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Approximate Time to Complete: 1 hour
  • Trailhead Location and Parking: Brandywine Falls Area | 8176 Brandywine Road, Sagamore Hills, Ohio 44067
  • Elevation Change: 160 feet
Best hikes in cuyahoga valley national park
Brandywine Falls is the largest waterfall in Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

2. Stanford Trail

The Standford Trail breaks off from the Brandywine Gorge Loop and heads to Standford House.

  • Length: 1.5 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate to difficult
  • Approximate Time to Complete: 1.25 hours
  • Trailhead Location and Parking: Brandywine Falls Area | 8176 Brandywine Road, Sagamore Hills, Ohio 44067
  • Elevation Change: 190 feet

3. Ledges Trail

The Ledges is one of the most popular trails in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. On this trail, you’ll find really cool rock formations and even a bat cave (which is closed, but still, it’s a bat cave)!

The Ledges Shelter is located inside the trail with ample parking and bathrooms available.

  • Length: 2.2 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Approximate Time to Complete: 1.5 hours
  • Trailhead Location and Parking: Ledges Shelter | 405 Truxell Road, Peninsula, Ohio 44264
  • Elevation Change: 105 feet
Best hikes in cuyahoga valley national park
The Ledges is one of the best hikes in Cuyahoga Valley National Park!

4. Pine Grove Trail 

The Pine Grove Trail is an easy trail that takes you through a heavily forested area. It’s not a bad idea to bring bug spray on this one to help deter mosquitos. This trail can be accessed via a .4-mile connector from the Ledges Trail.

  • Length: 2.2 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Approximate Time to Complete: 1.5 hours
  • Trailhead Location and Parking: Ledges Shelter | 405 Truxell Road, Peninsula, Ohio 44264
  • Elevation Change: 100 feet

5. Forest Point Trail

Forest Point Trail is a small trail in the Ledges area near the Octagon Shelter.

  • Length: .5 mile
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Approximate Time to Complete: 30 minutes
  • Trailhead Location: Ledges Shelter | 405 Truxell Road, Peninsula, Ohio 44264
  • Elevation Change: None

6. Haskell Run Trail

Haskell Run Trail can be accessed via a .1 mile connector from the Ledges Trail or from the Happy Days Lodge.

  • Length: .5 mile
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Approximate Time to Complete: 30 minutes
  • Trailhead Location and Parking: Ledges Shelter or  Happy Days Lodge (Parking on Route 303)
  • Elevation Change: 70 feet

7. Boston Run Trail

The Boston Run Trail in Cuyahoga Valley National Park is suitable for hiking or cross-country skiing.

  • Length: 3.4 miles loop
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Approximate Time to Complete: 2 hours (hiking), 1.5 hours (skiing)
  • Trailhead Location and Parking: Ledges Area | Happy Days Lodge Parking on Route 303
  • Elevation Change: 80 feet

Explore More: If you’re looking for more great hiking in Ohio, check out Hocking Hills State Park.


8. Lake Trail

The Lake Trail is a short, 1-mile trail that takes you around Kendall Lake.

  • Length: 1 mile
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Approximate Time to Complete: 45 minutes
  • Trailhead Location and Parking: Kendall Lake Shelter | 1000 Truxell Road, Peninsula, Ohio 44264
  • Elevation Change: 20 feet

9. Salt Run Trail

The Salt Run Trail is located in the Kendall Lake area. You can park at the Kendall Lake Shelter to access the Salt Run Trail. The trailhead is on the opposite side of the lake from the parking lot. Take the Lake Trail around the lake to find the Salt Run trailhead.

  • Length: 3.3 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate to difficult
  • Approximate Time to Complete: 2 hours
  • Trailhead Location and Parking: Kendall Lake Shelter | 1000 Truxell Road, Peninsula, Ohio 44264 (Take the Lake Trail around the lake to find the Salt Run Trailhead)
  • Elevation Change: 16o feet

10. Cross Country Trail

The Cross Country Trail can be accessed from the Kendall Lake Shelter and is suitable for hiking or cross-country skiing.

  • Length: 2.5 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Approximate Time to Complete: 1.5 hours (hiking), 1 hour (skiing)
  • Trailhead Location and Parking: Kendall Lake Shelter | 1000 Truxell Road, Peninsula, Ohio 44264
  • Elevation Change: 16o feet
Best hikes in cuyahoga valley national park
Kendall Lake at Cuyahoga Valley National Park

11. Riding Run Loop

Riding Run Loop is great for hiking and horseback riding.

  • Length: 4.6 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate to difficult
  • Approximate Time to Complete: 2.5 hours (hiking), 1.5 hours (riding)
  • Trailhead Location and Parking: Everett Covered Bridge | 2370 Everett Road, Peninsula, Ohio 44264
  • Elevation Change: 260 feet

12. Perkins Loop

Perkins Loop is great for hiking and horseback riding.

  • Length: 2.7 miles
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Approximate Time to Complete: 2 hours (hiking), 1.5 (riding)
  • Trailhead Location and Parking: Everett Covered Bridge | 2370 Everett Road, Peninsula, Ohio 44264
  • Elevation Change: 260 feet

13. Furnace Run Loop

  • Length: 2 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate to difficult
  • Approximate Time to Complete: 1 hour
  • Trailhead Location and Parking: Everett Covered Bridge | 2370 Everett Road, Peninsula, Ohio 44264
  • Elevation Change: 240 feet

Pro Tip: Some Cuyahoga Valley National Park trails are good for more than just hiking. You’ll also find trails for horseback riding and cross-country skiing.


14. Valley Trail 

Valley Trail is great for hiking and horseback riding.

  • Length: 19 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy to Difficult
  • Approximate Time to Complete on horseback: 7+ hours
  • Trailhead Location and Parking: Everett Covered Bridge | 2370 Everett Road, Peninsula, Ohio 44264
  • Elevation Change: 360 feet

15. Wetmore Trail

Wetmore Trail is great for hiking and horseback riding.

  • Length: 4.5 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Approximate Time to Complete: 2.5 hours (hiking), 1.5 hours (riding)
  • Trailhead Location and Parking: Wetmore Trailhead | 4653 Wetmore Road, Peninsula, Ohio 44264
  • Elevation Change: 250 feet

16. Butler’s Trail

Butler’s Trail is a small trail that connects to Langes Run Trail and Valley Trail and is suitable for hiking and horseback riding.

  • Length: .6 mile
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Approximate Time to Complete: 20 minutes (hiking and riding)
  • Trailhead Location and Parking: Wetmore Trailhead | 4653 Wetmore Road, Peninsula, Ohio 44264
  • Elevation Change: 150 feet


17. Langes Run Trail

Langes Run Trail connects to the Wetmore Trail and is great for hiking and horseback riding.

  • Length: 3.5 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
  • Approximate Time to Complete: 2.5 hours (hiking), 1.5 hours (riding)
  • Trailhead Location and Parking: Wetmore Trailhead | 4653 Wetmore Road, Peninsula, Ohio 44264
  • Elevation Change: 190 feet

18. Tabletop Trail

Tabletop Trail is a small trail that connects to the Wetmore Trail and is suitable for hiking and horseback riding.

  • Length: .75 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
  • Approximate Time to Complete: 30 minutes (hiking), 20 minutes (riding)
  • Trailhead Location and Parking: Wetmore Trailhead | 4653 Wetmore Road, Peninsula, Ohio 44264
  • Elevation Change: 100 feet

19. Oak Hill Trail

Oak Hill Trail connects to the Plateau Trail and is suitable for hiking or cross-country skiing.

  • Length: 1.5 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Approximate Time to Complete: .75 hours (hiking), .5 hours (skiing)
  • Trailhead Location and Parking: Oak Hill Trailhead | 3901 Oak Hill Road, Peninsula, Ohio 44264
  • Elevation Change: 50 feet

20. Plateau Trail

The Plateau Trail connects to Oak Hill Trail and is suitable for hiking or cross-country skiing.

  • Length: 4.5 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
  • Approximate Time to Complete: 3 hours (hiking), 2 hours (skiing)
  • Trailhead Location and Parking: Oak Hill Trailhead | 3901 Oak Hill Road, Peninsula, Ohio 44264
  • Elevation Change: 200 feet

21. Tree Farm Trail 

Tree Farm Trail is a relatively easy, family-friendly trail next to Horseshoe Pond.

  • Length: 2.75 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Approximate Time to Complete: 1.5 hours (hiking), .75 hours (skiing)
  • Trailhead Location and Parking: 2167 Major Road, Peninsula, Ohio 44264
  • Elevation Change: 80 feet

Read more  How to Take the La Jolla Coast Walk Trail & What You’ll See

22. Buckeye Trail

A portion of the statewide Buckeye Trail passes through Cuyahoga Valley National Park. It can be accessed from many different trailheads.

23. Ohio & Erie Towpath Trail

A portion of the Ohio & Erie Towpath Trail passes through Cuyahoga Valley National Park. It can be accessed from many different trailheads.

Best hikes in cuyahoga valley national park
There’s lots of great hiking in Cuyahoga Valley National Park!

Accommodations Near Cuyahoga Valley National Park

If you’re looking for a luxury hotel, unfortunately, you’re not going to find it near Cuyahoga Valley National Park. There are, however, several small B&Bs in the area as well as nearby chain hotels.

B&Bs Near Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Inn at Brandywine Falls: 8230 Brandywine Road, Sagamore Hills, Ohio 44067 | 330-467-1812

Fitzwater House: 11000 Chippewa Road, Brecksville, Ohio 44141 | 330-730-2350

Cuyahoga Valley Inn: 3758 Brecksville Road, Richfield, Ohio 44286 | 330-730-2350

Stanford House [Closed for 2020): 6093 Stanford Road, Peninsula, Ohio 44264 | 330-657-2909

Hotels Near Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Baymont by Wyndham Boston Heights/Hudson: 6731 Industrial Parkway, Hudson, Ohio 44236

Hampton Inn Richfield: 4860 Brecksville Road, Richfield, Ohio 44286

Country Inn & Suites by Radisson Macedonia: 7820 Capital Blvd, Macedonia, Ohio 44056

Hampton Inn Stow: 4331 Lakepointe Corporate Drive, Stow, Ohio 44224

Sheraton Suites Akron Cuyahoga Falls: 1989 Front Street, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio 44221


Explore More: Cuyahoga Valley National Park is an easy drive from several big cities including Cleveland, Columbus, and Pittsburgh.


Cuyahoga Valley National Park FAQ

How much time should I plan to spend in Cuyahoga Valley National Park?

That depends on how much of it you want to see. You can probably complete 3-6 trails in a day depending on length and difficulty. So, you can easily get a taste of the park in just one day or you can plan to stay multiple days to explore more.

How much does it cost to get into Cuyahoga Valley National Park?

Cuyahoga Valley National Park is free to enter and there is no charge for parking.

Is there camping in Cuyahoga Valley National Park?

There is no camping allowed in Cuyahoga Valley National Park including no overnight parking for recreational vehicles. There are many state parks and campgrounds within driving distance of the park that offers camping and RV parking. You’ll find more information here.

Can you drive through Cuyahoga Valley National Park?

Yes, many roads and freeways cut right through Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

How many waterfalls are in Cuyahoga Valley National Park?

There are about 100 waterfalls in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Brandywine Falls is the tallest at 65 feet and the most well-known.


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Best hikes in cuyahoga valley national park

Best hikes in cuyahoga valley national park


— Update: 02-01-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article 15 Best Cuyahoga Valley National Park Trails for Hiking from the website clevelandtraveler.com for the keyword best hikes in cuyahoga valley national park.

One of the best things about living in or visiting Cleveland is the fact that a national park is right in our backyard!

Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP) is a gem, boasting many waterfalls, overlooks, and some of the most gorgeous scenery for hiking any time of the year. And the best part is that this national park is entirely free to visit.

Best hikes in cuyahoga valley national park
Brandywine Falls
Best hikes in cuyahoga valley national park
Virginia bluebells in spring

Founded as a national recreational area in 1974, and then named a national park by the year 2000, Cuyahoga Valley National Park is the only national park in the state of Ohio. However, as this park spans across Cuyahoga and Summit counties, you know that there are ample places to go for a good hike.

Here are all our favorite trailheads plotted on a map (along with some of the points of interest mentioned):

Best Cuyahoga Valley National Park Trails for Hiking

1. Virginia Kendall Ledges Trail

Best hikes in cuyahoga valley national park

This is one of the most popular hikes in Cuyahoga Valley National Park! Along the trail, you’ll spot the most beautiful sandstone layered rock “ledges” that are green with moss and create their own passageways that you can walk between. Peer down the narrow ledges, spot the caves, and wander between the formations before continuing on to the overlook. 

If you are searching for one of the best views of Cuyahoga Valley National Park, this is the perfect place. As you approach the rocky overlook you’ll see for miles over the park – perfect for admiring colorful foliage in the autumn months, or a sunset in the summer.

Best hikes in cuyahoga valley national park
Sunset from the Overlook

The Ledges Trail is located in the Virginia Kendall Unit of CVNP just off of Kendall Park Rd, which is where you’ll start the trail. This hike is about 2.2 miles long with an 80 foot elevation gain. Expect to spend about an hour and a half hiking this moderately easy trail. 

Best hikes in cuyahoga valley national park
Hiking the Ledges trail

3. Pine Grove Trail

While you’re there near the Ledges, you may as well hike this beautiful trail, too. This CVNP hike is easy and pretty well traveled. It’s about 2 miles long, has an elevation gain of 90 feet, and should take about an hour to complete. 

Start at the Pine Grove Trailhead and take the connector trail down to the Pine Grove Trail loop. Take the loop around and come back through the connector trail. This trail is perfect for lush greenery and the potential to see some wildlife like wild turkey! 

3. Blue Hen Falls (2 options)

Best hikes in cuyahoga valley national park
Blue Hen Falls

Park at the Boston Mills Visitor Center and hop on the Buckeye Trail to the lovely Blue Hen Falls, a scenic 15-foot-tall waterfall in the forest. 

This is about a 3-mile hike round-trip and has an elevation gain of 580-feet, so be prepares to tackle some hills. Plan to spend around 1-2 hours on this hike and at the waterfall. 

You could also make this more challenging by starting at the Jaite Trailhead and hiking longer on the Buckeye Trail. This would be about an 8-mile hike round trip, and takes about 3.5-4.5 hours to finish.

The trail is fairly challenging with 724 feet in elevation gain, so be prepares! More info on this longer hiking route in this post.

4. Deer Lick Cave Loop Trail

This little cave and waterfall are well worth it to hike to, and there are several smaller trails that lead to it. The cave isn’t so much a cave as it is a cave bluff, but the waterfall is perfect for taking photos without anyone else around, as this area isn’t as frequented as many other spots in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. 

Best hikes in cuyahoga valley national park
Deer Lick Cave Falls

I recommend taking the 4 mile loop to Deer Lick Cave by starting at the trail next to Valley Parkway and taking a right onto Deer Lick Cave Loop Trail.  Then, this trail merges into the Bridle Trail Loop and finally merges onto Deer Lick Cave Loop Trail until you finish. You can either take the trail from Valley Parkway back, or take the Buckeye Trail until you hit the Valley Parkway and parking lot.

This moderate hike in Cuyahoga Valley National Park only has about a 239 foot elevation gain and should only take about 2 hours to complete. 

5. Valley Bridle Trail (with a stop at Everett Covered Bridge)

Cuyahoga Valley has something special along almost every trail. On this one, you can explore the beautiful Everett Covered Bridge right off of the Everett Covered Bridge parking lot before exploring the Valley Bridle Trail. 

Best hikes in cuyahoga valley national park
Everett Covered Bridge

Explore the covered bridge, admire the creek, and take in the history of Cuyahoga Valley National Park with many signs explaining how this piece of land went from a national recreation area to a national park. 

Then, I recommend going back to the parking lot and taking the Valley Bridle Trail past the cornfields. It passes by many scenic farms, goes deep into the woods, and you’ll even pass by Szalay’s market in the beginning of your hike. This market is fun to visit for fresh veggies and live music in the summer and fall, but, in autumn, this place is perfect for pumpkin picking! 

Best hikes in cuyahoga valley national park
Szalay’s Farm Market

The Valley Bridle Trail itself is a horse trail, so you could go horseback riding on this trail. However, you can also hike it if you’d like as well! This is pretty flat overall and a lesser-known CVNP trail, so you won’t see many people hiking during your time here. 

Also, the Valley Bridle Trail is 19 miles long, so while you could certainly hike the whole thing if you wanted to, I typically just do a portion and turn around. On my last visit to the Valley Bridle Trail, I hiked about 4.5 miles in before turning back around toward the covered bridge. 

Other hikes on the Valley Bridle Trail include the Everett Covered Bridge to Wetmore Trail that is about 2.75 miles, the Wetmore Trail to Boston Trailhead that is 9.25 miles, and the Boston Trailhead to Brecksville Reservation that is around 7 miles. 

Best hikes in cuyahoga valley national park
Cornfield along the Valley Bridle Trail

6. Bridal Veil Falls to Tinker’s Creek Gorge

Another great hike to be found along the Buckeye Trail, this short and easy hike is perfect for waterfall spotting and a gorgeous overlook! 

This trail only has about an 83 foot elevation gain, is 2 miles long round-trip, and should only take about an hour. Start at the Bridal Veil Falls parking lot and take the Buckeye Trail going northwest into Bedford Reservation until you reach the overlook about a mile in. 

Enjoy this scenic view of the trees overlooking the Cuyahoga Valley National Park before turning around back toward the waterfall. 

7. Brandywine Gorge Trail to Brandywine Falls in Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Note: The Brandywine Falls parking lot, upper section of the Brandywine Gorge Trail, and a section of the Summit Metroparks Bike & Hike Trail are closed until September 30 as the NPS upgrades the restrooms here. The only way to access the waterfall this summer will be to park at Boston Mill Visitor Center and hike the Stanford Trail (5 miles round trip).

The Brandywine Gorge Trail loop will take you to one of the most popular and scenic waterfalls in Cuyahoga Valley National Park: Brandywine Falls. 

Best hikes in cuyahoga valley national park
Brandywine Falls

This short and relatively easy hike should take less than an hour, is about 1.4 miles long, and has an elevation gain of about 190 feet. You’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the cascading Brandywine Falls that flows year-round! 

While the falls themselves are extremely popular, most people just take the stairs down to the falls from the parking lot rather than hike the loop. Just take the Stanford Road Trail from the Brandywine Falls parking lot. Then turn onto Brandywine Gorge Trail. Stay on that until it merges into the MetroParks Bike and Hike Trail going east until you make it to the falls. 

8. Kendall Lake Loop and Salt Run Trail

These are two separate trails, but they’re right next to each other and easy hikes, so it’s worth combining them!

Both are loop trails, with the Salt Run Trail starting by the lake and going into the woods, and the Kendall Lake Loop encircling Kendall Lake. 

The Salt Run Trail is about 3.25 miles long with a 160 feet elevation gain, and the Kendall Lake Loop Trail is about a mile long and is flat. Expect to spend a little less than 3 hours to hike both of them, with the Salt Run Trail taking about 2 hours to hike and the Lake Trail to take less than an hour. 

These hikes aren’t terribly crowded either, so it is a perfect place to get away from crowds and enjoy a picturesque lake! 

Start at the Kendall Lake parking lot and hop onto the Kendall Lake Loop Trail. Eventually you’ll see the Salt Run Trailhead. Take that and do the full loop before continuing on the Kendall Lake Loop Trail back to where you started. 

Best hikes in cuyahoga valley national park
Hiking in CVNP

9. Furnace Run MetroPark

Every time I hike in the Furnace Run Metro Park, I almost never see anyone. This off-the-beaten-path Summit Metro Park is inside of Cuyahoga Valley National Park, and has easy hiking paths with a beautiful little lake and creek running through it. 

There are two loop trails that make up this park, and I recommend hiking both of them. Each one is a little over a mile long, and together they make up about a 2.8 mile hike and have an elevation gain of 133 feet. To hike both it would only take about an hour and a half to complete. 

Start at the Furnace Run Metro Park parking lot and continue to the trails. The Old Mill Trail splits off to the right and the Rock Creek Trail splits off to the left. Both are enjoyable and easy hikes to take with kids, go for a jog on, or just take a leisurely stroll. 

10. Towpath Trail

Best hikes in cuyahoga valley national park
Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail

This is the most well-known Cuyahoga Valley National Park hiking trail, and it’s easy to see why. With 2.5 million visitors on this trail per year, this easy walking path is ideal for runners, bikers, hikers, and families with small children. 

The Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail runs along the path of the old canal system that used to connect Ohio cities like Akron to Lake Erie. Now, the bike-and-hike trails have beautiful points of interest including canals, locks, waterfalls, wildlife ranging from blue herons to turtles, and more!  

The Towpath Trail even extends beyond the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and goes all the way from downtown Cleveland (where there are some great running paths) to Tuscarawas County over a length of 87 miles. 

As we’re talking specifically about Cuyahoga Valley National Park trails, this trail has many points of interest in the park itself.

Best hikes in cuyahoga valley national park
Towpath Trail in late autumn

Here are a few great spots to start a hike! As it is one big long trail, you can hike for as long or as little as you’d like:

  • Lock 39: This is the start of the Towpath Trail that goes into Cuyahoga Valley National Park. This part has a lovely canal and lock. 
  • Lock 29: The Towpath Trail here is more wooded and passes by the river. 
  • Boston Store Visitor Center: If you’ve enjoyed hiking on the CVNP trails and want to explore the visitor center, pick up a Cuyahoga Valley National Park souvenir or national park passport stamp, or learn more about this national park, this is the place to go along the Towpath. 
  • Red Lock Trailhead: If you want to hop off of the Buckeye Trail onto more flat and easy hiking, this is a great spot with plenty of creeks and the rushing Cuyahoga River nearby. 

11. Deer Run Trail

Deer Run Trail is located in O’Neil Woods Metro Park and is one of the best Cuyahoga Valley National Park trails for spotting the Virginia bluebells in the spring and amazing fall foliage in the autumn. Plus, you may spot a deer or two wandering along the area as well! 

Best hikes in cuyahoga valley national park
Virginia bluebells – usually best spotted in late April/early May

This small but mighty trail is only about 1.8 miles long, and has an elevation gain of 190 feet, which includes some steep inclines and several sets of wooden steps. The trail winds through the forest and down to the Yellow Creek.

The Deer Run Trail is listed as moderate, and usually isn’t terribly crowded. The trail should take about an hour to complete. (Pro tip: Follow the trail clockwise so you hit the stairs going down instead of up.)

Park at O’Neil Woods and take the Deer Run Trail as it loops around back to where you started. 

Best hikes in cuyahoga valley national park
Steps along the Deer Run Trail

12. Plateau Trail

If you’re up for a slightly challenging trail that is perfect for wildlife spotting and getting into the woods, then the Plateau Trail is perfect for you! This trail is a loop that runs about 4.5 miles long, taking less than 3 hours to complete with an elevation gain of 200 feet.

This is moderately crowded, but nothing close to the Towpath Trail or Brandywine Falls. There is one big challenging hill, but, other than that, you’ll enjoy the sights and smells of the surrounding nature on this trail with little difficulty. 

Start at the Oak Hill Trailhead toward Plateau Trail. Follow the loop until it merges with Oak Hill Trail. Take a right heading west back to where you started.

13. Boston Run Trail

This loop trail is pretty popular amongst hikers and has ample opportunity for wildlife spotting, especially chipmunks, squirrels, and woodpeckers. There are also many beautiful trees, meadows with wildflowers, and creeks to explore on this 3.4 mile fairly easy trail. 

Expect an elevation gain of 80 feet, and it should take about an hour and a half to complete. Start at Happy Days Lodge and take the Boston Run Trail Loop the whole way. 

Best hikes in cuyahoga valley national park

14. Tree Farm Trail

This trail goes along an old tree farm and offers up gorgeous views of the trees as well as Horseshoe Pond. The trail is only 2.75 miles, should take about an hour and a half to complete, and has an elevation gain of 80 feet.

This easy Cuyahoga Valley National Park trail does get some foot traffic, but is a wonderful and relaxing hike on a nice day. 

Start at the Horseshoe Pond parking lot and take the loop trail around. 

Read more  Summer Lake Hikes Near Snoqualmie Pass (That Aren’t Snow Lake)

15. Deep Lock Quarry

Deep Lock Quarry certainly qualifies as one of the best Cuyahoga Valley National Park trails for its scenic sandstone quarries, a rushing river, and a canal lock. It’s also great for bird watching! 

The Quarry Trail is pretty popular and is 1.4 miles long, takes less than an hour to complete, has about 108 foot elevation gain, and is pretty moderate in difficulty. 

Start at the Deep Lock Quarry Metro Park parking lot before starting the Quarry Trail. It is a loop trail so you’ll follow it the whole time.  

Best time to hike in Cuyahoga Valley National Park

As far as finding the best time to hike the CVNP trails, any time of year is great if you’re willing to brace whatever weather is happening! However, here is a good idea of temperatures and crowds each time of year that’ll help you in planning your next Cuyahoga Valley trails hike:

Winter: Winters in northeast Ohio can be chilly at best and brutally cold at worst. It’s a toss up depending on the year. However, December-February have average daily temperatures of 34-39ºF during the day and 20-26ºF at night. It isn’t uncommon to get precipitation of between 2-3 inches per month that is mostly snow. 

This time of year certainly is the least crowded, and is also a truly beautiful time to visit as you’ll see lovely frozen waterfalls and untouched snowy landscapes, and you won’t have to wind your way around crowds to do it! Just be sure to potentially pack some Yaktrax if the trails are a bit slippery with ice. 

RELATED: Your Guide to Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Winter

Best hikes in cuyahoga valley national park
Great Falls of Tinkers Creek frozen in winter

Spring: Spring starts to warm up quite a bit with temperatures averaging around 48-72ºF during the day and 30-51ºF at night. Pack a poncho or umbrella in case of rain, as it can get quite rainy around April and May. 

If you don’t mind some rain and some chillier days, this is a great sweet-spot before CVNP gets more crowded during the summer months. Also, you’ll be able to catch the lovely spring flowers! Charming Virginia bluebells, vibrant march marigolds, and lively purple cress are dotted along the forest floor, making it a photographer’s delight in the spring!

Summer: Summer is definitely the busiest time at Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Families are traveling during the summer and the weather is nice and warm outside. Average daily temperatures are between 80-84ºF during the day and 60-64ºF at night. 

While it can be quite crowded on some trails, many others are far less crowded, especially as you get off of the Towpath and main sights in the park.

It can get pretty hot and humid during the day in the summer, so have plenty of water on you!

Fall: Fall may be my favorite time to explore Cuyahoga Valley National Park. This place gets the best fall foliage, especially if you go to the Ledges Overlook! Temperatures are around 50-74ªF during the day and 36-56ºF at night, so you’ll want to bring a jacket for your hike. 

Best hikes in cuyahoga valley national park
Station Road Bridge in the fall

Crowds are also not as large as the summer, but you’ll definitely find quite a few locals participating in the Fall Hiking Spree from September 1-November 30 each year. There are 13 trails on the Spree, and each hiker needs to complete 8 of them to get a walking stick (or a badge each year after that!).

If you want to spend a long weekend hiking in Cuyahoga Valley National Park, you can participate in the Fall Hiking Spree too! 

READ NEXT: The Best Places to Enjoy the Great Outdoors Near Cleveland


Which of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park trails is your favorite? 

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Best hikes in cuyahoga valley national park
Best hikes in cuyahoga valley national park
Best hikes in cuyahoga valley national park
— Update: 02-01-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article Best Hikes in Cuyahoga Valley National Park from the website www.myopencountry.com for the keyword best hikes in cuyahoga valley national park.

The 9 Best Hikes in Cuyahoga Valley National Park

#1 Virginia Kendall Ledges Trail

Best hikes in cuyahoga valley national park
  • Type: Loop
  • Distance: 2.2 miles
  • Rating: Moderate

The Virginia Kendall Ledges Trail is one of the most popular trails in Cuyahoga Valley National Park, and once you get there you’ll understand why!

This is one of a kind, winding through a maze of moss-covered bluffs, boulders, and rock faces. There are various caves, nooks, and crannies you can explore along the way, although we recommend doing so with the utmost care as the rock is often slippery and unstable. 

This route also provides access to the Ledges Overlook, an elevated outcrop that offers up stunning views of Cuyahoga Valley. 

The VKLT is unpaved and rocky for the most part, so we advise wearing appropriate footwear. 

RELATED READING: Check our guide to the best Ohio Hiking Trails!

#2 Blue Hen Falls via the Buckeye Trail

Best hikes in cuyahoga valley national park
  • Type: Out-and-back
  • Distance: 1.2 miles
  • Rating: Easy

The Buckeye Trail is a 1,444-mile route that circles the entire state of Ohio. Forty of the best of those miles wind their way through Cuyahoga Valley National Park, and their highlight is undoubtedly the gorgeous, curiously named Blue Hen Falls.

At just 1.2 miles long, this family-friendly hike is a great option for visitors who are short on time or looking for a mellow stroll as opposed to anything strenuous.

After crossing the bridge a short way from the trailhead near the Boston Store Visitor Center (trail maps available here!), you’ll find yourself in dense, old-growth forest. Shortly, you’ll reach Blue Hen Falls, a quirky, double waterfall that spills over the lip of a large sandstone roof into a cave and small gorge below. 

From here, the trail continues to Buttermilk Falls, a less dramatic but taller waterfall that’s well worth the extra 10-15 minutes it will take you to get there. 

#3 Brandywine Gorge Trail – Brandywine Falls Hike

Best hikes in cuyahoga valley national park
  • Type: Loop
  • Distance: 1.4 miles
  • Rating: Moderate

Hiking Cuyahoga Valley National Park isn’t complete without a visit to Brandywine Falls. Brandywine is the largest waterfall in the park and is easily accessible for hikers of all ages and fitness levels on this mellow, well-maintained trail, which involves a mere 160 feet of ascent.  

The 60-foot Brandywine Falls at the trail’s end is a spectacular sight at any time of year, but particularly so when complemented by the red, yellow, gold, and amber hues of fall foliage.

Owing to its accessibility and that show-stopping endpoint, this trail can get pretty busy in summer and early fall, so we recommend arriving early to beat the crowds. 

While part of the trail is wheelchair accessible, this sadly won’t take you all the way to Brandywine Falls themselves.

#4 Tree Farm Trail

Best hikes in cuyahoga valley national park
  • Type: Loop
  • Distance: 2.8 miles
  • Rating: Easy

This path isn’t as popular as others owing to its lack of the geological features found elsewhere in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. This, however, makes it an ideal choice for lovers of peace and quiet, and a great place to spot wildlife.  

The area in and around Cuyahoga Valley National Park is renowned for its tree farms and nurseries, and on this trail you wind gently through a former farm that has since become a sanctuary for non-deciduous trees and wildlife like moles, squirrels, chipmunks, deer, and rabbits.  

To get to the trailhead, start at the Horseshoe Pond parking lot and use the trailhead to the west of the lot. While family-friendly, this path can get a little overgrown and muddy at times, so don’t forget your hiking boots!

#5 Towpath Trail

Best hikes in cuyahoga valley national park
  • Type: Point-to-point
  • Distance: 101 miles
  • Rating: Moderate

The Towpath Trail is a historic route that was originally made for donkeys and horses to tow passengers and cargo down the Ohio and Erie canals. The trail is just over 100 miles long, with 20 of those miles passing through the heart of Cuyahoga Valley National Park.  

There are several access points throughout the park, allowing you to hike as little (or much!) of the Towpath as you choose!  

With virtually no elevation gain, this is one of the most family-friendly options on our list. It’s also wheelchair-, bike-, and stroller-accessible, and dog-friendly, though park authorities request that you keep your pooch on a short leash. 

#6 Pine Grove Trail

Best hikes in cuyahoga valley national park
  • Type: Loop
  • Distance: 1.5 miles
  • Rating: Moderate

As the name suggests, the Pine Grove Trail takes you through one of the most densely forested areas of the park. But it ain’t all about pine. Along the way, you’ll walk by towering specimens of hemlock and oak, as well as a wide variety of beautiful wildflowers in spring and summer. 

The walk is relatively easygoing, with only 100 feet of elevation gain over its 1.5-mile length. Nevertheless, the terrain can be fairly bumpy so it’s not wheelchair or stroller-accessible, and proper hiking shoes are recommended. 

To reach the trailhead for this route, you’ll need to use the 0.4-mile connector that diverges from the Virginia Kendall Ledges Trail.

#7 Salt Run Trail

Best hikes in cuyahoga valley national park
  • Type: Loop
  • Distance: 3.3 miles
  • Difficulty Rating: Moderate 

This 3.3-mile hike in the Kendal Lake Area of the park involves around 450 feet of ascent, making it a great option for hikers looking for a little more of a workout. 

The trailhead is located just across from the Pine Hollow parking lot, from where the occasionally steep and uneven path threads its way through dense, lush forest teeming with foliage.    

The highlight of the route is White Oak Spring, a natural, fairytale-esque natural spring that bubbles up at the base of a large white oak tree.

You can easily lengthen your hike by connecting to the Kendall Lake Trail after returning to the trailhead, adding 1.1 miles to the original 3.3-mile hike.

#8 Plateau Trail

Best hikes in cuyahoga valley national park
  • Type: Loop
  • Distance: 4.9 miles
  • Rating: Moderate 

The Plateau loop is the longest standalone day-hiking route on our list and, as such, a good option for hikers or cross-country skiers who want a little more of a challenge. 

This forested route doesn’t offer much in the way of vistas, but along the way you’ll be surrounded by delightfully atmospheric forest and have the opportunity to visit a duo of beautiful ponds with short diversions from the path.  

While only requiring 200 feet of ascent, the path is unpaved and fairly rugged, so good footwear is essential. 

Access to the path is from the Oak Hill Trailhead just off Oak Hill Road, or from the Valley Picnic Area next to the Cuyahoga River on Riverview Road.

#9 Deer Lick Cave Loop

Best hikes in cuyahoga valley national park
  • Type: Loop
  • Distance: 4 miles
  • Rating: Moderate

Hiking the Deer Lick Cave Loop requires a little bit of navigational nous owing to the various forks and junctions along the way (follow the oak leaf blazes!). The reward for your efforts, however, is a family-friendly stroll through a forest of towering trees on a moderately trafficked route with a very special feature at the end.  

You can access this loop via two trailheads – the Nature Center Trailhead and the Deer Lick Cave Trailhead. Choosing the latter of the two will cut the hike’s overall distance by roughly a mile. 

Starting from the Nature Center and traveling clockwise, you’ll pass by a number of quaint, babbling streams before reaching a junction and turning right onto the Buckeye. From here, the going gets a little tougher as you steadily ascend a ridge to the edge of a 90-foot ravine before reaching the route’s highlight, Deer Lick Cave, around 2 miles in.

The cave itself is more of a nook formed by a protruding an overhanging sandstone outcrop, but it’s well worth seeing nonetheless. A short way upstream, you’ll also find Deer Lick Cave Falls, a tiny but surprisingly captivating waterfall.

This hike only involves around 250 feet of elevation gain, but will likely take around two hours due to the rugged nature of conditions underfoot. Again, sturdy footwear is recommended. 

RELATED READING: For more outdoor fun in Ohio check out our guide to the best hiking in the Hocking Hills.

Cuyahoga here we come!

Didn’t we tell you Ohio had a bit more to offer than plains, corn, and the odd metropolis wedged somewhere in the middle?!

We hope you enjoyed our guide to the 9 best trails in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. If you have any questions about any of these hikes or are planning a Cuyahoga National Park hiking trip, drop us a line in the comment box below. And if you’d like to share this post with your friends, please share away!


— Update: 03-01-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article 5 Best Hikes In Cuyahoga Valley National Park from the website www.travelawaits.com for the keyword best hikes in cuyahoga valley national park.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park has an interesting beginning. It was not on the radar of many at the turn of the century to become a national park; in contrast, it was quite the opposite. The area surrounding the park was booming with growth and industry, and the Cuyahoga River had caught fire 13 times because of pollution. Tragedy was the catalyst that propelled this area into national park status. 

When you arrive, you might be surprised. Cuyahoga is within small towns and has homes dotted throughout your drive around the park. You might not be entirely surrounded by nature here, but you are encompassed by reclaimed land and a restored pristine river full of life!

Pro Tip: Visit the brand new Boston Mills Visitor Center to familiarize yourself with the area and grab a map of all the trails.

Best hikes in cuyahoga valley national park
(Photo Credit: Bridget Moyer / Shutterstock.com)

Virginia Kendall Ledges And Loop Trail

701 Truxell Road, Peninsula, Ohio 44264

“The Ledges” is what the locals call this popular hiking trail within Cuyahoga Valley. Once you start your hike on this trail, you will know why. If there is an adventure within this national park that calls my name over and over, this is the one. Every time I start down the path and enter into the woods, a magical feeling envelopes me as I step further in and head toward the towering ledges.

While this trail is considered moderate, I found that it is a rugged 2-mile hike, loaded with stunning rock formations and winding tree roots. Ambling along the route, you will come across wooden bridges over ravines, the icebox cave, and a few other surprises along the way


If you are only here for the view and are not comfortable on long hikes, you can take a short walk to the ledge at sunset to catch a glimpse of one of the spectacular Ohio evening skies. You won’t be disappointed with the expansive view as you gaze over the sprawling valley. You will be able to easily access this area on foot.

Bathrooms are available, and parking is best in the early morning.

Pro Tip: Wear sturdy shoes that are intended for hiking; flip flops or open-toed shoes are not recommended. 

Best hikes in cuyahoga valley national park
Brandywine Falls (Photo Credit: Missy Glassmaker)

Brandywine Falls And Gorge Trail

8176 Brandywine Rd, Northfield, OH 44067

Considered one of the most famous sights within the park, Brandywine Falls never disappoints. The falls cascading down 65 feet into the water below is always majestic; however, if you want astounding sights of the roaring water, come after a good rainstorm. The sounds of the water throwing itself over the edge is incredible, and I find myself entranced as I watch nature’s power on display!

Accessibility to Brandywine Falls has been well thought out. If you have a wheelchair, you can use the wooden boardwalk to the upper observation deck, where you can see excellent views of the falls. Please be aware that the wooden walkway can be slick after a rain or overspray from the falls. After you are finished, you will return to the parking lot the way you came.

If you are up for more of a challenge and are the adventurous type, you can explore the gorge trail accessible off the boardwalk. Here you will venture into one of the enchanted areas within the park. Surrounded by dense forest and stately geological rock formations of sandstone and shale, you are transported into a hidden space within one of the busiest park areas to explore. As you experience the trail, you will cross Brandywine Creek, where you don’t have the luxury of a bridge. Pick your way across via rocks or cross over by walking through it. Use caution and plan accordingly.

Bathrooms and water fountains are available, and parking is a challenge in the summer, so come early in the morning or later in the evening.

Pro Tip: Located near the falls is the Inn at Brandywine Falls. It was built in 1848 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. However, it has been renovated since then and made ready for guests to enjoy the Greek revival charm. It is the perfect place to stay while visiting Brandywine Falls.

Best hikes in cuyahoga valley national park
(Photo Credit: Doug Lemke / Shutterstock.com)

Ohio And Erie Canal Towpath Trail

Canal Exploration Center, 7104 Canal Road, Valley View, Ohio 44125

Start your hike at the Canal Exploration Center, where you can learn about the canal system, enjoy the hands-on exhibits, and check out the restored building that was once a store and tavern.

After your educational time, take the towpath trail running beside the Cuyahoga River, which will take you through the park in a memorable way. Why is this so special? The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad runs with the canal path, and you can hike between stations to board and depart as much as your hiking heart desires! Hop aboard the train to start and stop as you go along and then ride the train back to your vehicle! It is a unique way to hike this 19.5-mile flat crushed limestone trail. 

Read more  Buttermilk Falls, Crater Lake, Hemlock Pond

You’ll find this path is perfect for all levels and is wheelchair accessible. Watch for cyclists on your trip, and always keep to the right as you hike because the path is heavily used. 

Trailheads lead off of the towpath to other fantastic hikes within the national park. 

  • Station Road trailhead: This trail is a great place to enjoy birding in the spring and in the summer, and you will find plentiful wildflowers.
  • Old Carriage trail: This is a moderately trafficked 5.5-mile loop trail located in an urban area; please stay on the marked trail and enjoy this delightful walk.
  • Hale Farm Connector Trail: If you’re looking for a more moderate and difficult trail while on the towpath, this offshoot takes you to views of the farm and will give you a workout. 


Pro Tip: This excursion will take you all day. Pack a picnic to enjoy at one of the picnic tables while you wait to board the train to your next starting point. 

Best hikes in cuyahoga valley national park
(Photo Credit: Sandra Foyt / Shutterstock.com)

Bridal Veil Falls

Gorge Parkway, Bedford, Ohio

If you are short on time but want to grab a quick hike, Bridal Veil Falls will be just the ticket. Hop out of your car for this 0.4 mile out and back trail. While this is a quick hike, it is not accessible for everyone. It is a dirt trail with wooden steps leading down to Bridal Veil. You’ll notice the shale face of the falls giving it a veiled look, which is how this waterfall got its name.

After seeing Brandywine Falls, this one might seem small, but it is a nice cascading 20-foot fall! I’ve enjoyed quiet moments here since it is not as busy as many other sections of Cuyahoga Valley National Park, making this one of my favorite waterfall hikes.

Best hikes in cuyahoga valley national park
A trail through Cuyahoga Valley National Park (Photo Credit: RIRF Stock / Shutterstock.com


Tree Farm Trail

2075 Major Road, Peninsula 44264

While this 2.8-mile trail does not have a water feature or stunning overlook, it will take you into a feeling of Narnia as you walk into the densely forested woods. You’ll quickly realize how the trail got its name as you see the lines of trees that were once a tree farm. Tree Farm Trail is considered easy, however, it can be muddy and wet all year long. Waterproof hiking boots are recommended and take along some bug spray because you might attract a few mosquito buddies along the way. 

This is another moderately hiked trail, so you will most likely see wildlife as you explore. Birding along here can be delightful, and you can catch glimpses of Ohio’s state bird, the cardinal, or flittering sparrows. One special treat I have seen as I quietly walked the woods is a stately pileated woodpecker knocking away at a snag on the forest floor. Imagine the quiet of the woods and the sound of the hungry woodpecker ringing out — it’s incredible. 

Hiking with your Dog in Cuyahoga Valley National Park

You can bring your dog to Cuyahoga Valley National Park! However, there are a few things you should know. You must keep your dog on a leash no longer than six feet. Hiking with pets means you need to pick up your dog’s waste and carry it out. There are not always water facilities at all the trailheads, so bring everything your pet needs: a bowl, water, and a snack.

Pro Tip: Cuyahoga Valley National Park doesn’t disappoint if you know what to expect. Plan to stay for a few days to experience everything that there is to see here. Know that you will run into traffic, see urban areas throughout the park, it is not like Yellowstone or the Great Smoky Mountains, and start your adventures early in the morning to beat the crowds.


— Update: 04-01-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article 7 Best Hikes in Cuyahoga Valley National Park from the website brookeinboots.com for the keyword best hikes in cuyahoga valley national park.

Best hikes in cuyahoga valley national park

Nestled in the woods just outside Cleveland, Ohio, Cuyahoga National Park is the most popular National Park that you’ve probably never heard of. With over 125 miles of hiking trails to choose from, no visit to Cuyahoga Valley is complete without hiking one or more of the Park’s many trails.  Keep reading for the best hikes in Cuyahoga Valley National Park, and a complete guide to visiting this underrated National Park.

Cuyahoga Valley may not be as splashy as some other National Parks, but it offers family-friendly hiking, waterfalls, and an up-close, interactive look at the region’s history.

** IMPORTANT 2022 UPDATES **

Brandywine Falls Gorge Trails is CLOSED until September 30, 2022 while the Park completes trail and parking upgrades. Brandywine Falls is STILL accessible from the Stanford Trail (5mi, Round Trip). See Trail Notes for Brandywine Falls below for more details

The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad is operating on a LIMITED SCHEDULE due to erosion of the tracks in some areas. The “Explorer” Line is NOT running until further notice. For Scenic Railroad Trips within Cuyahoga Valley National Park, check out the Railroad’s 1.5 Hr “Flyer” trip, operating SATURDAYS & SUNDAYS ONLY. More information available here.

Table of Contents

History of Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Best hikes in cuyahoga valley national park
Brandywine Falls in Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Over the years, the Cuyahoga Valley was home to several Native American tribes, including the Lenapé. Over the years, many tribes used the area as an important trading corridor.

Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, war, coercive treaties, and new laws forcibly removed Native Americans from the Cuyahoga Valley and opened the area to European settlement.

Starting in the late 1800’s visitors from nearby metropolitan Cleveland and Akron started visiting the valley to escape industrial city life. In the 1930’s the Civilian Conservation Corps built much of the Park’s existing infrastructure.

By the 1960’s, pollution of the Cuyahoga river and expanding urban sprawl threatened to overwhelm the area. The Cuyahoga River was so significantly polluted from nearby manufacturing that the river literally caught fire over 13 times. The burning of the Cuyahoga River helped spur the modern environmental movement and the passage of the Clean Water Act in 1972.

Citizens, local and state leaders successfully lobbied to establish the Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area in 1974. The area was re-designated a National Park in October, 2000.

Map of the Best Hikes in Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Use this map of Cuyahoga Valley National Park to find the 7 best hikes in Cuyahoga Valley National Park, as well as Park Visitor Centers.

How to Use This Map: Click the Icons on the map to see more information about each location. Click the star at the top of the map to add the map to your Google Maps account.

Best Hikes in Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Best hikes in cuyahoga valley national park
The Ledges Trail is one of the best hikes in Cuyahoga Valley National Park

For many trails in Cuyahoga Valley, you will have to drive on narrow roads through residential areas to access the trailhead. Please be courteous of the neighbors who live next to the trail. Only park in designated parking spots, keep noise to a minimum and practice Leave No Trace principles.

Cuyahoga has over 125 miles of hiking trails, almost all of which are interconnected. Pay extra close attention to your map or GPS when hiking here, especially at trail junctions. Do not rely on cell service for directions within the National Park.

The Ledges Trail

1.8 Miles / 80’ Gain / Easy / Dog and Kid Friendly

If you only have time for one hike in Cuyahoga Valley, ]make sure you visit The Ledges trail. This short kid and dog friendly trail is one of the most popular, and my pick for the best hike in Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Along the trail, you’ll circle the “Ledges” – a plateau of towering sandstone bedrock that has been eroded into a maze of cliffs and caves over millions of years. Peer over the cliffs and wander through the maze of moss covered stone. The trail Overlook has one of the best views in the entire park, looking out over Valley and nearby towns and is a must see if you’re visiting the park during Fall.

Plan to spend 1 to 2 hours exploring this easy, but super rewarding hike.

Best hikes in cuyahoga valley national park
The Ledges Trail in Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Icebox Cave is a small cave inside the Ledges that was once a popular visit for hikers. The cave was closed 7 years ago to protect the local bat population, which has been severely affected by white-nose syndrome.

The Ledges Trail is NOT wheelchair accessible and not recommended for visitors with mobility issues.

Brandywine Gorge Loop Trail to Brandywine Falls in Cuyahoga Valley National Park

*UPDATE 2022* Brandywine Falls Gorge Trails is CLOSED until September 30, 2022 while the Park completes trail and parking upgrades. Brandywine Falls is STILL accessible from the Stanford Trail.

To access Brandywine Falls from the Stanford Trail, park at the Boston Mills Visitor Center. Please note that visitor center parking is often full between 10am and 3pm, especially on weekends. From the Visitor Center, follow the easy dirt Stanford Trail 2.5 Miles to Brandywine Falls. After enjoying the views, return via the same trail.

The Stanford trail is kid and dog-friendly, but is not accessible for strollers or wheelchairs.

1.4 Miles / 190′ Gain (Stairs) / Easy / Dog and Kid Friendly / Partially Wheelchair Accessible

Best hikes in cuyahoga valley national park
Brandywine Falls Gorge Trail at Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Brandywine Falls is the largest waterfall in Cuyahoga Valley National Park, and the Park’s most famous landmark. Here, Brandwine Creek falls over 60 feet through the picturesque gorge.

Most visitors take the short boardwalk down to the Brandywine Falls overlook and return. But if you have the time, consider hiking the entire 1.4 mile loop of the Gorge.

To complete the loop, follow the Brandywine Boardwalk to the right to the top of the falls, then continue on over the falls via the Bike and Hike Trail. Follow the bike trail to the picturesque Inn at Brandywine Falls hotel, and stay left for the Brandywine Gorge Trail.

Like most trails in Cuyahoga, the Gorge Loop intersects with multiple trails. Pick up a map at the Visitor’s Center, take a photograph of the trail map on the bulletin board at the trailhead.

Brandywine Falls is the largest waterfall in Cuyahoga Valley National Park, and the Park’s most famous waterfall. Avoid visiting the Falls during the most crowded times of day, usually 10AM to 3PM.

The Brandywine trail is wheelchair accessible on the boardwalk up to the first lookout. Be prepared to navigate multiple flights of stairs over this trail.

Best hikes in cuyahoga valley national park
Blue Hen Falls / Photo by Travis Essinger on Unsplash

Blue Hen Falls via Buckeye Trail

3 Miles / 580′ Gain / Moderate / Dog Friendly

Explore Blue Hen Falls, one of the lesser known waterfalls of Cuyahoga Valley National Park on the Buckeye Trail. The Buckeye Trail runs 1400 miles, circling the state of Ohio, with several scenic miles running through Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

From the Boston Mill Visitor Center, follow the Buckeye Trail north.At 1.2 Miles, the trail crosses Boston Mill road. After approximately 1.4 Miles, stay to the right and follow signs forBlue Hen Falls.

Note: As of January, 2022 the Blue Hen Falls parking area is closed for construction until further notice. Please park and hike from the Boston Mill Visitor Center as indicated above.

Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail

1 Mile to 87 Miles / Easy / Kid, Bike, and Dog Friendly

The Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath is an 87-mile long dirt and gravel path that travels from Cleveland to Akron, Ohio. The Towpath trail is open to hikers and bikers (and horses in some sections) and is a popular recreation spot for local families and visitors alike.

Best hikes in cuyahoga valley national park
Cuyahoga Valley National Park trails are dog friendly!

19 miles of the Towpath Trail wind through Cuyahoga Valley National Park, including 10 different trailheads to access the path.

Learn more about each of the 10 Towpath trailheads inside the park here.

Park your car and explore as far as you would like before returning to your car, or for a real adventure, hop on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad and take the train back to your vehicle!

The Towpath Trail follows the original route of the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath. From the late 1800’s until 1913, the Towpath was used by mules to pull canal boats filled with goods and people, up and down the Ohio & Erie Canal. Before large-scale use of trains, the Canal was an essential highway for goods and water for towns between Akron and Lake Erie.

Best hikes in cuyahoga valley national park
Flickr / daveynin

Popular Spots on the Towpath Trail Inside Cuyahoga Valley National Park

  • Canal Exploration Center: 7104 Canal Rd., Valley View, OH 44125 – Learn about the history of the canal and explore a restored lock up close. Great for kids!
  • Boston Mill: Collect your park stamp, pick up a map, and learn about the history of Cuyahoga Valley at the Boston Mill Visitor Center.
  • Beaver Marsh: This 1 mile section of the towpath is now a beautiful and wheelchair accessible boardwalk. The boardwalk crosses a marsh that is often teaming with birds, frogs, turtles, muskrats, and of course beavers. Learn more about Beaver Marsh here.

Kendall Lake Loop

1.5 Miles / 98′ Gain / Easy / Dog and Kid Friendly

This easy trail circles Kendall Lake and is great for families and anyone looking for an easy stroll. The Lake is particularly beautiful in autumn. Keep your eyes peeled for beavers and other wildlife around the Lake.

Kendall Lake is located just a few short minutes drive from the Ledges Trail.

Best hikes in cuyahoga valley national park

Kendall Lake / Flickr / Steve @ the alligator farm

Deer Lick Cave and Bridal Loop Trail

4.2 Miles / 498′ Gain / Moderate

Explore Deer Lick Cave, a small cave tucked into the side of a cliff, a waterfall and dense Cuyahoga Valley forests on this 4.2 mile moderate trail.

For a shorter option, you can visit Deer Lick Cave without doing the full loop trail. Park at Meadows Road and hike the 0.2 Mile Bridal Trail to the Cave.

As with many trails in Cuyahoga, there are multiple trails intersecting in this area. Pay attention at trail junctions and closely follow a map or GPS directions. I recommend the Deer Lick Cave and Bridal Loop Trail directions from All Trails.

Tree Farm Trail

2.8 Miles / 145′ Gain / Easy / Dog and Kid Friendly

The Tree Farm Trail makes for an easy and kid friendly hike through Cuyahoga Valley’s forest. The rows of pine trees you pass by are from an old tree farm which now gives the trail its name.

Note: This trail can become VERY muddy after rain and snow. Expect muddy conditions if there has been rain within the last few weeks. Waterproof shoes are recommended year round.


Need more inspiration for your National Parks bucket list? Check out my other National Park Guides for Big BendGreat Smoky MountainsNew River Gorge, and Yosemite, (with more added soon!)


Planning a Visit to Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Best hikes in cuyahoga valley national park
Boston Mill Visitor Center

Visitors to Cuyahoga Valley National Park (sometimes abbreviated CVNP) should try and spend at least one full day exploring the Park. However, even if you only have a few hours (or less), CVNP makes a great stop for anyone who loves National Parks, hiking or just wants to stretch their legs during a road trip!

To fully appreciate all of the best hikes in Cuyahoga Valley National Park, plus the other activities the Park has to offer, try to spend at least two days in the Park.

Directions to Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Cuyahoga Valley National Park is located in and around the town of Peninsula, Ohio. The Boston Mill Visitor’s Center is a great place start any visit to the park.

The Boston Mill Visitor’s Center is located at 6947 Riverview Road, Peninsula, Ohio 44264.

Learn more about getting to Cuyahoga Valley National Park here.

Nearest Airports to CVNP

Cleveland Hopkins International Airport: 24 Mi. (27 Minutes)

Akron-Canton Airport: 30 Mi. (36 Minutes)

Pittsburgh International Airport: 104 Mi. (1 Hour 40 Minutes)

Columbus International Airport: 129 Mi. (2 Hours)

Driving Times to CVNP From:

Cleveland: 30 Minutes

Akron, OH: 25 Minutes

Pittsburgh, PA: 1 Hour 45 Minutes

Columbus: 2 Hours

Cincinnati: 3 Hours 30 Minutes

Best hikes in cuyahoga valley national park

Packing for your Cuyahoga Valley National Park trip? Don’t miss my complete National Park Packing Lists + Printable Guides!

Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad

Did you know you can also access Cuyahoga Valley National park by train?  

The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad operates between Akron, OH and Independence, OH with multiple stops throughout the park, including the Canal Exploration Center, Boston Mill Visitor’s Center and more.

The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad is currently operating on a LIMITED SCHEDULE due to erosion of the tracks in some areas. The “Explorer” Line (aka the hike and bike aboard line) is NOT running until further notice. For Scenic Railroad Trips within Cuyahoga Valley National Park, check out the Railroad’s 1.5 Hr “Flyer” trip, operating SATURDAYS & SUNDAYS ONLY. More information available here.

Learn more about the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad here.

Getting Around CVNP

Like other East Coast Parks, Cuyahoga is pieced together around existing farms, towns, and highways. To access all areas of the park, a car is strongly recommended.

Rental cars are available at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport and other nearby airports.


Have you hiked the best trails in Cuyahoga Valley National Park? Do you have questions or comments about planning a National Park trip? Drop a comment below!

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Best hikes in cuyahoga valley national park

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