Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Photos by OHventures

Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Park Headquarters
15610 Vaughn Rd
Breskville, OH 44141

Since Cuyahoga Valley National Park is the ONLY national park in the state of Ohio (and one of very few in the Midwest), one could argue that this park is the holy grail of all parks, topping the the Buckeye Bucket List of must-see locations! The park is so gigantic that you may have actually driven through without even knowing (if you have ever been to Blossom Music Center or Boston Mills & Brandywine Ski Resort, you've technically been within the park boundaries)! It is located not far from the tri-metro area of Cleveland, Akron and Canton, following the twisting, turning Cuyahoga River (yes, THAT river).

The word "Cuyahoga" actually translates to mean "crooked," which is only fitting, as the 22 miles of water slithers its way like a snake through Northeast Ohio. The 20,339 acres of land envelopes many well-known Ohio towns, such as Peninsula, Valley View, and Independence. It almost goes without being said that you will most certainly need a map to study up on the park and its many trailheads and entrances before planning your trip! A map can be found here: MAP 

Radiant with plants and other wildlife, Cuyahoga Valley National Park is ideal for hiking, biking, cross country skiing, picnicking, fishing, horseback riding, sled riding, and even golfing! Marshes, lakes, meadows, hills, and creeks are right at your fingertips, as well as berry, sheep and tree farms. Education centers, shelter houses, nature centers, and reservations add to the lineup of what the colossal park has to offer. The famed Towpath Trail runs through a portion of Cuyahoga Valley National Park, with miles and miles of paved state-of-the-art paths running north-to-south.

Because of the sheer enormity of the park, there was no way that I'd be able to cover it in its entirety. So, I decided to start with just a couple of the popular spots: Kendall Lake at Virginia Kendall Park (298 Vaughn Rd, Akron, OH 44319-1151) and Lock 29 Trailhead in Peninsula.

Trails at Virginia Kendall Park circle the incredible Kendall Lake for approximately two miles. There are two main trails: one for hiking and one for cross country skiing (there is also a winter sports lodge headquartered at the entrance). We obviously opted for a nice summer hike along the lake, which offered fantastic views around the pristine lake, a unique cement tunnel (pictured above), and hilly terrain with meadows and forest (pictured below).

Driving a short way north to the town of Peninsula, we were able to hop on the Lock 29 Trailhead, which is signified by an iconic Indian red bridge and a sandstone aqueduct (pictured below). On the bridge alone, we spotted children, bicyclists, and even a recently married couple taking professional photographs following their nuptials. The area was bustling with swimmers, hikers, and other park-goers. The quaint town nearby was a comforting backdrop with old fashioned storefronts and the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, which offers special event railroad tours. A short jaunt on this trail offered a perfectly scenic excursion and a perfect example of the greatness that lies within the National Park.

I look forward to re-visiting the Cuyahoga Valley National Park in the near future to explore, explore, explore! I doubt I will ever truly be done discovering all that lies within Ohio's one and only National Park.

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