Hiking season is upon us and we can’t think of a better place to trek through nature than the Cuyahoga Valley National Park! Our lovely park is filled with magnificent waterfalls, lush foliage, striking views and plenty of hiking trails to enjoy it all.
While you may be able to hike all 125 miles of trails the Cuyahoga Valley has to offer this summer, we rounded up some of our favorites to help you get started. Whether you’re a beginner or an old pro, we’ve got a hike just for you on this list along with some things to do when you’ve stepped off the trail. Happy adventuring!
Looking for more outdoor activities to enjoy in Northeast Ohio this season? Check out our complete guide to being outdoorsy in the Akron and Canton area.
Haskell Run is a quick valley outing with a pair of rustic wooden bridges to climb on. This spot is a great place to go birdwatching, explore stunning wildflower gardens, or go on a quick hike with the kids. If you’re looking for a little more mileage, this trail offers easy access to the Boston Run Trail.
This short loop trail is perfect for beginners or a great warm-up for more advanced hikers. Located near Peninsula, Ohio and almost completely flat, the Forest Point Trail is accessible year-round and features many opportunities to see wildlife in action.
This short loop travels along Kendall Lake, allowing you and your family to catch glimpses of the local wildlife along the water. Lake Trail is a fairly easy hike, with a few sets of stairs that climb up and down with the small elevation changes along with a concrete tunnel that leads through a hill.
Originally intended for cross-country skiing, the Plateau Trail is a favorite among hikers and runners as well. For a truly stunning sight, visit this trail during autumn for an incredible, colorful view! And don’t forget your lunch; there’s a quaint sitting area right off the trail where you can host a picnic. Insider tip: During the summer and early fall this trail can get really buggy, so don’t forget your insect spray!
It’s no secret that we love the Towpath Trail, a trail that extends from Akron to Cleveland and offers 85+ miles to explore. Part of this massive trail just happens to cut through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park — almost 20 miles of flat, asphalt or limestone pavement perfect for biking, hiking or just a morning walk in nature!
Photo courtesy of Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Brandywine Falls is one of the most gorgeous sights in Ohio making this trail one of the most trafficked in the park. While it might be busy when you go, we promise the views are worth it! This trail starts at the historic Inn at Brandywine Falls and follows the edge of the gorge, eventually taking you down to creek level. If you want to avoid the crowds, try parking at the Stanford House and hiking the 3.8-mile trail through the woods.
The Ledges hike is one of the most iconic trails in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Traverse the intermediate hike or drive straight to the parking lot to reach the Ledges Overlook, which offers breathtaking views of the valley. This trail is rocky and rough, so make sure to wear sufficient footgear and adhere to any closure signs for your safety.
This 3.5-mile loop is perfect for trail running or for walkers looking for a good workout. Not only does this trail offer plenty of hills to get your legs burning, but it’s located along the river, giving you the chance to spot plenty of beautiful wildlife. We recommend avoiding this trail after rainfall as it can get pretty muddy. Insider tip: At the beginning of the loop, take a left to go down the hill so you don’t have to climb up it at the very end!
Nearing four miles, this loop hike will lead you through some of the most beautiful rolling terrain in the park. Park at the Valley Parkway which intersects the trail and is a more secluded section of Cuyahoga Valley and then hit the trail! Along the way, you’ll see creeks, a picnic area and the lovely Deer Lick Cave.
If you love mountain biking, you’re in for a treat! The East Rim Trail is the first of its kind, made for mountain bikers and advanced hikers, featuring sharp turns, rocky obstacles and steep hills. Plus, the scenery is gorgeous with breathtaking views, towering forests and dense woods that will make you feel like you’re in another world entirely. Eventually, this trail will measure nearly 10 miles long, so make sure to keep visiting to see the new additions!
For those looking for a more advanced hike, the Perkins Loop is a great choice. This almost-3-mile trek is one of only four trails in the park to have earned Cuyahoga National Park’s most difficult rating. The trail starts at the iconic Everett Covered Bridge and will lead you to a grown-up game of Chutes and Ladders, switchbacks, muddy sections, steep and pebbly slopes and across a shallow creek. This hike is definitely not for the beginner, but it sure is fun!
The Buckeye Trail extends fully around the entire state of Ohio. While we know you probably don’t have the time to hike the full 1,444-mile trail at once, you can enjoy the sections located in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. In fact, our favorite section, the Station Road to Boston Trail, allows you to catch a glimpse of all of the most popular overlooks in the area. The 12-mile trail will take you past Blue Hen Falls, Deer Lick Cave, the Ohio Erie Towpath Trail and so many more incredible sights.
Where to Go After Your Hike
When you’re looking for a place to stop off and relax during or after your hike — the Stanford House is the perfect spot. This historic home was built in 1843 and was a youth hostel until recently when it was turned into a quaint bed and breakfast. Stop in and take a look, and a few pictures, of the rustic farmhouse atmosphere. Or, stay a couple of nights in one of their cozy rooms with abundant nature right outside your window.
While you’re in the area, make sure to stop by the Blossom Music Center for a concert! This popular venue hosts nationally touring acts that perform right in the middle of a forested patch of land in the park. So no matter whether you’re there to see the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts or Flo Rida — you’re in for a treat!
If there’s anything you must do while you’re in the area, it’s paying a visit to Szalay’s Sweet Corn and Farm Market! The market is filled with colorful, fresh produce and grilled corn you can grab as a snack. And if you’re visiting in the fall, you won’t want to miss their famous corn maze
Online reviewers rave about Flip Side, a local burger chain restaurant with locations all over Ohio. Head to the nearby Hudson and chow down on some of the best burgers in the state along with truffle fries, Kobe beef corn dogs, local beer, and Medjool date milkshakes in a relaxed environment.
Photo courtesy of Rosati’s Frozen Custard
End your day on the highest note at Rosati’s Frozen Custard, a famous Ohio spot for a good reason. They offer fresh, creamy custard that is made in-house and serve it in cones, sundaes, shakes and even blended with different toppings. Plus, their neon and vintage building is the perfect spot to hang out and snap a few shots for your Instagram!
Cross Country Skiing
Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean that you can’t still enjoy the great outdoors. Several trails within the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, including the Towpath Trail, are open during the winter and are perfect for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and sledding!
See the Wildlife
Throughout the park, you’ll get the chance to see some incredible wildlife in their natural habitats. From owls and ducks to deer and large squirrels — you can meet them all right here! But remember to keep your distance and stay aware as there are some dangerous animals that also call parts of the park home.
Photo courtesy of Brenda Long- Chiefbear on the Road Photography via the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad
More of a biker than a hiker? No worries! There are plenty of trails that are perfect for biking and even mountain biking. We recommend you take advantage of Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad’s popular Bike Aboard Program, which allows you to ride the train one way and bike the other for just $5!
Hiking is a fun way to see some nature and get active outside. But when interacting with the great outdoors, you should take some precautions to stay safe.
- Make sure to wear sunscreen to protect yourself from the elements, even if it’s cloudy outside.
- Always wear long pants tucked into your shoes or socks to keep the ticks away.
- Hike earlier in the day rather than later, but if you do choose to hike at night, bring a flashlight and watch for trail hazards.
- When hiking to overlooks, especially close to water, be aware that some spots may be slippery and use caution when approaching the edge.
- Always adhere to caution signs and closure notices and make sure to never climb over railings — they’re there for your safety!
We hope you have a fun adventure! Did we miss your favorite spot in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park? Tell us all about it in the comments!