What better day to take steps towards redeeming myself for neglecting my nearest National Park than the National Park Services’ 100th Birthday?! On our last trip to Cuyahoga National Park, if I’m honest, I felt like we had hit all of the high points and there wasn’t any rush to get back. As nice as the idea was to revisit and explore, I just didn’t have a sense of urgency. That was horribly wrong of me!
I knew I wanted to spend the Centennial Birthday in a National Park. I was aiming for one that I hadn’t checked off the list yet, but time and budget constraints didn’t align. Somewhat begrudgingly I decided to stick close to home and spend the day in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. We ended up having the best day! The initial forecast looked bleak. 60-80% chance of storms all day long. Luck was on our side this time though, the night before, a strong line of storms rolled through Ohio shifting the odds of rain down to 30% and only in the late afternoon. It was hot and steamy but there was a great breeze and ample opportunities for breaks in the shade.
We had already seen Brandywine Falls and Bridal Veil Falls. They are short, easy trails with wonderful waterfalls as rewards. I do recommend checking them off the list, but please don’t stop there! You will be missing out.
Our first stop was to the Visitor Center for a map and asking the Rangers on duty what their recommendations were. One of their recommendations was an area I was curious about but couldn’t find much information on, Ledges Overlook. Exactly the type of trail I was looking for! Completely unexpected, heavily shaded, really cool cliffs of rock reminiscent of a LOT of time spent in Hocking Hills, small caves, and of course THE overlook. You can do as much or as little of the trail as you’d like. There are tributaries all over to take you to other little gems, and a major short cut from the main parking lot to the Overlook. The shelter at the trail head is great too. Plenty of picnic tables under cover, a reservable enclosed space, and bathrooms. That’s where we had lunch! (Not at the bathrooms, the picnic tables) 😉
After lunch we did a quick stop off to see Kendall Lake. It is a beautiful lake with another great lodge structure for picnics. We opted to save the trail around the lake for another time, and instead spent some time savoring the view and the sunshine.
Next on the list we walked part of the Towpath Trail, as per the Rangers’ recommendation, to the Beaver Marsh. As it turns out, you are following along the old canal that moved goods from Akron to Cleveland and back again. Parts of the old lock system still exist. It seemed so narrow! This area is excellent for anyone interested in bird watching. We saw several heron fishing. A number of other water birds and ducks that I will have to look up! Loads of lily pads, flowers, the occasional turtle and dragonfly. It was an incredibly pleasant walk.
We wrapped up our celebration of the National Park Services’ 100th Birthday by visiting Everett’s covered bridge and having one last picnic for dinner as thunder rumbled in the distance.
Piece of advice: use bug spray!!! We recently ran out and didn’t think to stop to pick up more before we left. I have at least 8 new mosquito bites.
I’m looking forward to our next trip. Hopefully, it will work out for us to go back when the leaves transition from summer to fall. That is our plan! There is an incredibly variety of trees so I can only imagine how vibrant and variant the colors will be. I think Ed is looking forward to winter, he commented how great the Overlook area would look covered in snow. 🙂