Wondering why you should check out Cuyahoga Valley National Park? Let us count the ways.
By Jen Jones Donatelli, Image by Cody York
If you’ve always wanted to explore the Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP) but weren’t sure where to start, this is the year to do it. In commemoration of the National Park Service’s centennial anniversary, the park’s powers that be have compiled a “100 Things to Do” bucket list. Whether braving the trails on a full moon hike, admiring the majestic Brandywine Falls, or giving the brand-new East Rim mountain bike trail a spin, there’s no shortage of ways to get your CVNP on this summer.
Here's a sampling: Bring your binoculars and set out on a brisk morning walk through Beaver Marsh, a designated “Important Bird Area” where nature lovers can spot sparrows, orioles and even otters. Or, spend a sunset at the rocky pinnacle of the 2.2-mile Ledges hiking trail, which offers a sweeping view of the Cuyahoga Valley. More adventurous types can paddle their way down the 100-mile Cuyahoga River via canoe or kayak, surrounded by acres of peaceful woodland. (Word to the wise: join a guided tour such as those offered by Crooked River Adventures or Camp Hi.)
Not exactly the rugged outdoors type? There are still plenty of ways to experience CVNP. Farm-chic Sarah’s Vineyard is a must-visit attraction for wine lovers, as is the “Grape Escape” wine tasting train on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. Foodies will find their haven at the Countryside Farmers’ Market or Greenfield Berry Farm, where strawberries, blueberries and raspberries are ripe for picking.
The centennial festivities also promise to entice new visitors. The Cleveland Orchestra and Akron Symphony Orchestra will hold celebratory concerts this summer, and the American Solar Challenge—an 1,800-mile, eight-day race that makes its way through eight national parks—will kick off at CVNP in July. And if your summer won’t be complete without an old-fashioned picnic, do it up big at “Picnic in the National Park,” in which CVNP will join parks across the nation in a giant collective picnic.
No matter which way you choose to experience CVNP, you’re sure to see why it’s the 11th most-visited national park in the country—right up there with destinations like Yosemite and Yellowstone.