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This and That - Cuyahoga Valley National Park PDF Print E-mail
Monday, August 30, 2010 5:36 AM

The Cuyahoga Valley National Park has been put on the top of my “go to” list and it’s not too far away. It’s located between Akron and Cleveland.

It’s hard to imagine a national park in such an industrial area but grass-roots efforts preserved this 51 mile long park, which is absolutely heavenly, covering 32,861 acres.

Just recently my sister, Beth Metzger, along with other Glory Riders rode horse back on the park trails. Beth said it was very peaceful and beautiful.

The Cuyahoga Valley National Park was originally established in 1974 as a U. S. National Recreation Area. In 2000, it was re-designated a U. S. National Park by Congress. More than three million visitors visit the park each year, making it the fifth most visited national park according to the U. S. Park Service.

The park offers numerous historic and scenic sites to visit. The main visitor attraction is the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail.  At one time there were 44 locks on the canal, lifting the boats an elevation of 395 feet between Akron and Cleveland. Canal buffs will find remnants of many locks and aqueducts along the towpath trail.

Part of the natural beauty of the area was protected as being part of the Cleveland and Akron Metropolitan park system.  However many local persons and organizations could see the natural beauty of the area being taken over by urban sprawl. Active citizens worked with state and national government staff to find a solution to save the area for everyone to enjoy. Their dream came true on Oct. 11, 2000.
This park in northeastern Ohio is located along a north-south strip, running parallel between Interstate 77 on the West and State Highway 8 on the East. There are several visitor centers. The Canal Visitor Center is at the north end of the park in a restored house near the Canal and Lock 38, which is the last operational lock within the park.

The Hunt Farm Visitor Center is on the south end of the park near the intersection of Bolenz and Riverview Roads. The Hunt Farm property is typical of the small family farms that dotted the valley in the late nineteenth century. The park features several sustainable farms.

The Happy Days Visitor Center is located on State Route 303. This rustic building was built by the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corp) in the 1930’s as a day camp for inner-city children.

The main road through the park is the Canal Way Ohio National Scenic Byway. This road follows the path of the Cuyahoga River and the Ohio and Erie Canal. The Ohio & Erie Towpath Trail is the heart of the recreational activity. The trail invites casual walkers, serious runners and bike riding.

The diverse landscape of the park features rolling hills, river gorges, sandstone ledges and 70 waterfalls. Brandywine Falls is probably the park’s most visited natural feature.  It cascades over a staircase – like series of sandstone covered shelves in the eastern part of the park. Blue Hen Falls is on the west side of the Cuyahoga River and Bridal Veil Falls is where the tributary of Tinker Creek drops over a series of sandstone ledges.

Canal buffs will find remnants of many locks and aqueducts along the Towpath Trail.
The Everett Road Covered Bridge is a re-creation of the 1870s structure which was destroyed by flood in 1975.  
An excellent way to see the park is to ride the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. It parallels the river from Akron to Independence, making seven stops within the park.

Perhaps you just want to sit and watch the birds and other wildlife in the park. The park is home to dozens of species of birds and wildflowers. Many white tailed deer roam freely in the park but the beavers are best seen at dawn and dusk. Tree lovers will find hemlocks, beeches, maples, oaks and birches.

There’s much more to see so just take a Sunday drive to the park, or better yet, spend the week-end in the area.

Last Updated on Tuesday, January 07, 2014 11:32 AM

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