Sunday, July 3, 2016

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Cuyahoga River Valley National Park, dubbed “A National Park for All People”, is one of a growing number of urban recreation areas established to bring national parks to people living in cities. Set along the Cuyahoga River, the park is a natural treasure bounded by the suburbs of Cleveland and Akron, Ohio. Cuyahoga (or Ka-ih-ogh-ha, the American Indian name) means Crooked River -  an apt description, as it turns out. The river twists and turns for 90-miles, but as the crow flies, only covers 30-miles from the mouth of the river in Cleveland to the base of the escarpment in Akron.

The park consists of 33,000 acres along 22 miles, with more than 125 miles of hiking, skiing, bicycling, and horseback riding trails. There is something for everyone here, and truly a four seasons park. Picnicking, golf, canoeing, kayaking, and hiking in the milder seasons; sledding, skiing, and snow-shoeing are available in winter. The Blossom Music Center within the park offers summer evening classical and pop music concerts, the Porthouse Theater features summer stock performances, and there is even a Saturday Farmer’s Market from May through October. There are multiple visitors centers, lodging options, and interpretive programs provided by park service personnel.

The RV Park where we stayed in Streetsboro, Ohio is just 15-miles from Cuyahoga, very conveniently located for our visits. Our initial trip to the park was to the Boston Store Visitor Center to pick up brochures and hiking maps, and to get a lay of the land. That day was off-and-on rainy, so we didn’t want to commit to anything too lengthy lest we get caught in a downpour. We were able to get to a couple of waterfalls, though, ones with short trails from the parking lot so we could easily get back to shelter if necessary.

By the next day, the rain had moved on, so we decided to plan a more lengthy hiking adventure. With so many trails to pick from it was hard to narrow our choices down, but ultimately we decided to spend the day hiking the Ledges and Pine Hollow trails. We spent the morning wandering through 5-miles of forest with gently rolling hills, interesting rock formations, an active bat cave, valley overlooks, and gurgling streams. At the end of our hike we picnicked along the trail before wrapping things up. It was just coincidence that we ended up staying in Streetsboro at all, so being able to visit yet another of our nation’s beautiful National Parks was definitely a bonus.