6 Ways to Spend a Day in Cuyahoga Valley National Park

If you’re a fan of the great outdoors, the Cuyahoga Valley National Park has more than 125 miles of hiking trails and so much more to offer its visitors throughout the year. From EarthCaching to visiting the Cuyahoga River, there are many fun things to do in the Cuyahoga Valley. Many of the top destinations in the park are also perfect for kids, making this is a great vacation option for the entire family.

History of Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Originally, the Lenapé Nation lived and hunted on the grounds of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, which they considered a sacred part of their land. Long ago, they grew corn, pumpkins, beans, squash, and sweet potatoes in the area, while also foraging for wild greens, roots, and fruits that can still be found around the park.

Bridge located in Cuyahoga Valley National Park

In 1805, over 500,000 acres of land were ceded from the Native Nations in the Treaty of Fort Industry. During the 1870s, leisure boats and carriage rides brought city dwellers to the valley for recreational purposes. The advent of the Valley Railway in 1880 made it even easier for urbanites to visit the natural parklands and experience the outdoors.

Local park development began in the 1910s and 1920s. Because of the increasing size of the city, local citizens decided to work with the state and national governments during the 1960s to permanently preserve the park. In 1974, President Gerald Ford officially created the Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area, designating it as a safe zone for nature and wildlife.

Things to Know About the Cuyahoga Falls Area

What Is Cuyahoga Valley National Park Known for?

While visitors fall in love with the area’s plants and animals, it is also well-known because of the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail. This trail follows the original towpath merchants and travelers once used to transport goods and people in the areas.

Crane in Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Other than the towpath, the park is also known for the beautiful Brandywine Falls and other waterfalls. Other things to do in Cuyahoga Falls include visiting the Canal Exploration Center and the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.

Where Is the Cuyahoga Valley?

The valley is located within the state of Ohio between the cities of Cleveland and Akron. It is the only national park in the entire state of Ohio and one of only three in the Great Lakes Basin.

How Many Waterfalls Are in Cuyahoga Valley National Park?

Most of the Cuyahoga falls are located in the northern portion of the park. In total, there are around 100 waterfalls across the preserved land. Brandywine Falls is one of the most popular waterfalls for visitors to see.

Are Dogs Allowed at Cuyahoga Valley National Park?

If you are looking for things to do in Ohio with dogs, the Cuyahoga Valley park is an excellent option. Keep in mind, dogs must be on a leash that is six feet long or shorter. Once they are on a leash, they can explore 20 miles of the Towpath Trail, the Stanford Campground, and 110 miles of hiking trails by your side.

Things to Do in Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Nearby

1. Brandywine Falls

The Brandywine Falls are among the most popular places to go in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. This waterfall stands 65 feet in height and is partially accessible using a boardwalk. We suggest you try to go outside of peak hours because parking becomes limited during the most popular times of day.

Brandywine Falls in Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio

For a more adventurous, challenging experience, try taking the 1.4-mile Brandywine Gorge Trail to the falls. You can also use the steep stairs to reach the lower viewpoint. If parking options are scarce, try hiking the trail from the Stanford House to Brandywine Falls.

The Brandywine Gorge Trail begins near the local bed & breakfast. From there, it runs along the edge of the gorge until you are at the same level as the creek. During springtime, the vernal pools fill with water and salamanders.

2. Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad

The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad operates throughout the year for tourists in the area and is run by local volunteers. For more than 100 years, the railroad has connected visitors to the scenic beauty and natural wonders of the park. Today, more than 1,000 volunteers help the railroad stay open.

Beginning in November and running throughout the winter, the Polar Express Train Ride is a wonderful experience for children and adults of all ages. Santa and elves greet family members after a train ride full of hot chocolate, holiday stories, and cookies. Each year, an estimated 40,000 passengers take part in this memorable event.

3. Cuyahoga River

Kayaking down the Cuyahoga River can be fun, but it can also be dangerous without the necessary training, supervision, or previous experience. Before traveling down the river, check for potential hazards like the Lock 29 shelf and the Canal Diversion Dam. In addition, kayakers should pay close attention to their surroundings and the current weather conditions.

Bridge across Cuyahoga River in Cuyahoga Valley National Park

But with the proper safety precautions, the Cuyahoga River can be an exciting, enjoyable part of your stay in the area. There are four potential access points you can use to get to the river. The entire river runs 84.9 miles from the city of Cleveland to Lake Erie.

4. Stanford Campground

For an overnight camping experience, the Stanford Campground is the place to go. The park has five camping sites placed behind the Stanford House and along the Stanford Trail. These locations are perfect for Towpath Trail hikers, families, backcountry backpackers, and scout troops.

Each campsite can host up to six people and two tents. From May 1st to October 30th, campers are required to reserve a night in advance to be certain they’ll have a campsite. Walk-up campers can sometimes find a spot, but it isn’t always possible because of the popularity of these sites and you may end up without a place to sleep.

5. Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail

The historic Towpath Trail follows along the route of the Ohio & Erie Canal. Between 1825 and 1832, the canal was constructed to transfer crops to the market and linked Portsmouth and Cleveland together.

Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath in Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Today, the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail offers a historic experience along the canal. Many visitors choose to hike or bike the trail in one direction and then take a train ride back to their beginning point.

If you get tired of hiking, you can flag down the train at any of the boarding stations along the tracks by simply waving your arms over your head. Before you board, always pay your fare at least 10 minutes in advance to ensure you have time to get on and avoid delays.

6. Questing and EarthCaching

If you want to have an exciting trip to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, questing and EarthCaching are excellent options for any explorers out there. The Ohio & Erie Canalway has more than 40 quests for the true adventure seeker. Visitors use a map and rhyming clues to reach all of the hidden quest boxes along the journey.

While geocaching requires a GPS unit and trinket exchanges, quest boxes merely give a unique stamp and involve signing a logbook. An EarthCache is a great way to learn about different aspects of the Earth and geoscience features at each location. It serves as an adventure or treasure hunt like geocaching, while also including these lessons about the planet and geology.

What Part of Cuyahoga Valley Will You Discover First?

This list is a great way to get started on planning a trip to Cuyahoga Valley National Park. With so many animals, plants, trails, and waterfalls to see, give yourself plenty of free time to explore and discover the area as you roam. As the park transforms with the seasons, remember to stop by again and see the beautifully-colored foliage in fall, snow in the winter, and new growth in spring.

And if you’re learning about things to do in Cuyahoga Valley National Park because you are moving to Cuyahoga Falls or another nearby city, the team at Krupp Moving would love to help you! Get in touch with our amazing team of movers today by calling (330) 345-6596 or complete the quote form on this page for a free moving estimate!