4 Best Trails at Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Hi there!! For anyone who is new to my blog, let me introduce the whole crew here. I’m Carson Presley, and I write the content behind Girls & Dogs, Oh My. I’m graduating college this May (err--sort-of, just not traditionally because of the Coronavirus).
The luckiest person in the world, I have two adorable Labradoodles! Scout, who is two-years-old, and Ryder, who is just 9-weeks-old.
My better half, Spencer, is the most amazing dog mom who helps me keep a handle on our two wild fur babies.
Together, we love traveling. We love packing up our Jeep and exploring new places. We’re also (until recently) first-time dog owners.
In other words, we’re young and make a lot of mistakes--which is where the inspiration for this blog came from!
I want to be able to share all of our journeys and dog mom lessons with you all--especially our mistakes--so that you all can have the best possible experiences.
Every Monday I post new content with our latest adventure, traveling advice, dog mom tips and tricks. Sometimes I post more than just Mondays, so make sure to subscribe for updates! You might also get a rockin' discount as well :)
You have a map open on one screen and your list of National Parks open in your bullet journal.
But how did I know that?
No, I'm not a mind reader.
It's because that is me...every single time I plan for any trip!
I take into consideration how much time I have to be on the road, how far away I can go, and how many parks I can hit in one trip.
We basically live in the middle of no where...
...so when we go on a trip, we go big.
Luckily, Cuyahoga is only about 3 hours from us, so this made for a great weekend trip full of dog-friendly hiking, photography, and camping.
One of my favorite things about this trip was that we went in late winter and still had an incredible time and got to see all of the insanely beautiful waterfalls.
Before we dive into this travel guide, let's take a blast into the past and look at where this wonderful park got its start!
Cuyahoga Valley National Park, located in Ohio, is one of the most recently established National Parks.
It was named a National Recreation Area in 1974, later becoming a National Park in 2000. It covers almost 51 square miles--all of them displaying beautiful flora and fauna.
While there are plenty of reasons to visit this gorgeous national park, the most notable is probably the waterfalls. They are breathtaking.
Let's take a peek.
Still not sold??
What about now?
We spent one day here, which I would recommend.
We saw the highlights of the park and didn’t feel rushed at all. We actually left a little earlier than we had planned, simply because we saw everything we wanted to see.
A huge plus here is that this is one of the single most dog-friendly National Parks!! Can I get an “Amen??”
I’m going to break down each trail that we went on, how it ranked out of the 4 hikes we did, and some other information about it!
First stop: Blue Hen Falls
This isn’t the most famous stop on the trip, but it was our favorite by far. The trail is only one half-mile total, and is an out-and-back trail.
It is both dog-friendly and kid-friendly. In fact, we saw a lot of both kids and doggos out on the trails.
When driving to the trail, there is a tiny parking lot on the right side of the road. There are only three parking spots in that lot, so it will likely be full.
The dirt road to this lot has a handful of potholes, so I would suggest a vehicle with a higher clearance. Not necessary, but recommended.
On the left side of the road, however, is a parking lot with a considerable amount of parking spots. Then it’s just a couple steps across the road until you start your journey down this beautiful trail!
The trail is muddy and downhill on the way to the waterfall. We wore sneakers and had no problems, but just something to be mindful of.
At the bottom of the hill, you’ll wind around to this adorable bridge. Make sure to stop and take some pictures here! The bridge crosses a little creek which is also a really good spot for pictures.
There was only one couple down on the rocks taking pictures, which surprised me. Definitely a cute little stop.
Cross the bridge, walk a couple more meters, and you’ll be at the top of the waterfall. Yes, you heard that right--the top of the waterfall! Keep walking on the path and the waterfall will be on your right.
Go down the path and you’ll be at the base of the waterfall. It isn’t a long distance to the bottom of the falls, but it is a steep path and does get a little bit muddy.
There are a bunch of rocks and such on the bed of the falls, which make for great photos! I would have loved for the weather to be warmer because it would make for a great spot to cool off.
When you’re done, just head back on up to the parking lot and scoot on over to your next stop!
Our next stop was, of course, Brandywine Falls.
This is the most notable waterfall in itself. It is ranked as the second best trail in the park on AllTrails. It’s just short of 2 miles round-trip and is also an out-and-back trail.
A huge plus is that it is both dog- and kid-friendly!
The parking lot here is pretty big--thank goodness, because this place gets packed! There are facilities here, which is awesome.
Head on down the trail towards this great sight. Feel free to hold your breath--it’s worth it.
The hike has steps that lead down to a pavement path.
Take those and keep walking. There are some rocks on the trail that add to the scenery.
At the end of the path is the waterfall! You can’t get very close, but it’s still amazing. Make sure to snap some pictures and offer to take pictures for other people.
So why is this second if it’s so amazing?? Because you can’t actually touch the falls. I love to be able to be in the water and really connect with where I am. That element was missing here, which is why I had to rank this trail second instead of first.
Our third stop on the trip was Ledges Trail.
Honest disclaimer here: We’re from West Virginia and we have giant boulders everywhere at a nearby State Forest...so we’re kind of used to them, making this trail slightly uneventful for us.
For anyone who has never seen these, they are incredible!! They are just literal giant rocks that form--you guessed it--ledges!
Related Post: Check Shenandoah National Park off of Your Bucket List
When we were visiting, it was an overcast day, which was actually nice. It added a little bit of a dreary mood to the hike, making it almost Harry Potter-esque. But ok ok, on to the actual review of the trail.
Overall, we ranked this trail 3rd out of 4 for our day. It is dog- and kid-friendly (are you noticing a theme here??). The total distance for this loop route is a whole 2.6 miles and will take you around an hour.
Here’s a great tip to not look like a noob like we did: After you park, ignore the signs that say “Ledges Trail” with an arrow pointing to the left. They are not pointing to the trailhead immediately to the left of the sign, they are telling you to walk all the way down the road.
After you pop back out of the first half of the trail, you’ll come back onto the road that you drove in on. You keep going straight across that road until you come to an overlook!
Since it was winter when we visited, the views were slightly dull; however, I imagine absolutely gorgeous in the fall when the leaves are changing.
There’s a giant grassy field to the right, which Scout enjoyed running around on. Cross that and you’ll be back at the parking lot.
We headed out of there aaaaaand...
...ended up at Beaver Marsh!
This is a very unique stop. There isn’t a “Beaver Marsh Trail” or anything, but rather the marsh is located off of the Towpath Trail. It’s basically a giant boardwalk that takes you over the marsh.
Not only is this trail dog- and kid-friendly, it is also wheelchair friendly. The actual marsh is only about a quarter-mile from the parking lot. Just hang a left at the trail and you’ll be there in a couple minutes!
The trail does extend past the marsh, but we didn’t go any further. The best times to visit here are early in the morning and late in the evening. We went mid-day and the only wildlife we saw was a bunch of ducks.
Beaver Marsh is ranked last for our trip simply because there were not any spectacular views and the trail wasn’t very long.
I put a quick recap of each trail below!
Blue Hen Falls:
Distance: 0.5 miles round-trip (out & back trail)
Time: 30 minutes
What you’ll love: The waterfall and the fact that you can get in the water!
Distance: 1.7 miles round-trip (out & back trail)
Time: 30 minutes
What you’ll love: The waterfall!
Distance: 2.6 miles round-trip (loop)
Time: 1 hour
What you’ll love: The overlook
Distance: 1-3 miles
Time: however long you want to keep walking
What you’ll love: The marsh, obviously! The nature there is awesome.
We didn’t spend a bunch of time at the marsh before heading onto our camp site. If you want to read about the best campground near Cuyahoga Valley National Park, head on over to this page and check it out!
If you're wondering whether or not Cuyahoga Valley National Park is worth the stop, it is. Comment below and let me know what other hikes are worth doing!
xoxo, carson presley