Beaver Marsh is a great hike in Cuyahoga Valley National Park! Read on to learn more about this great trail for families and bird-watchers.
Beaver Marsh Trail is a trail located in Cuyahoga Valley National Park near Bath, Ohio. The Beaver Marsh is designated as an Ohio Watchable Wildlife Area and it is aptly named as you may get lucky enough to see beavers!
The marsh is located on a towpath that makes its way through Cuyahoga Valley National Park and extends 110 miles from Cleveland to Akron and beyond. At the marsh, the gravel towpath changes to a boardwalk with small observation areas for viewing the marsh.
Beaver Marsh History
30 years ago, this area was littered with farm equipment and rusted-out cars. The Portage Trail Chapter of the Sierra Group cleaned up this section of the park. They removed tons of car parts and accumulated trash from the area. In 1982, park officials saw evidence of gnawed trees, indicating that beavers had returned to the area after a century. The namesake beavers did the rest to create the marshlands, creating a habitat for diverse wildlife.
Why Visit Beaver Marsh?
According to the National Park Service, Cuyahoga Valley National Park protects “nearly 1,500 individual wetlands covering over 1,900 acres of parkland…many of these are less than one acre”. This makes Beaver Marsh (at 70 acres!) significant because of its size and diversity of life.
For kids and adults alike, Beaver Marsh is a great place to watch for birds and wildlife. In addition to the namesake beavers, you may be able to spot turtles, frogs, snakes, and many different species of birds. Interesting types of birds that make their home in and around Beaver Marsh include blue herons, mallard ducks, and cardinals. The trail also features “heronries” which are nests that are 30-70 feet high in areas that are surrounded by water. Normally they are located in remote locations, but the Bath Road heronry is unusual since it is located so close to a road. There is also a tactile informational exhibit and audio descriptions at Beaver Marsh. What’s better than educational nature?!
How to Get There
There are multiple ways to access Beaver Marsh. If you’re looking for a hike after a rainy week, Beaver Marsh is a great one. Because it is on a towpath and boardwalk, it’s going to be a better option for keeping your shoes relatively mud-free!
Beaver Marsh is one of the most accessible trails at CVNP. The boardwalk is flat and wide enough for passing in strollers or wheelchairs. It is typically at least 6 feet wide with some wider passing spaces. The trail surface is gravel or a wooden boardwalk with railings. There are also benches along the route for resting.
The shortest and easiest way to visit Beaver Marsh is the two-mile out and back trail. Parking for this is located at Ira Trailhead, 3801 Riverview Road, Peninsula 44264. This is the best option for those with accessible needs and small children who might get tired from a longer route.
For those looking for something a little bit longer, check out Beaver Marsh via Hunt House. This trail is 3.1 miles with 49 feet of elevation gain. It is also an out and back from the Hunt House parking lot. Located toward the southern end of the park, Hunt House is located along the Towpath Trail on Bolanz Road between Riverview and Akron Peninsula Roads.
I did this trail as part of the Full on CVNP 2 Challenge route. This route was 4.3 miles with 148 feet of elevation gain. I wasn’t a fan of this route as it spent too much time on the road for me (and the dog). If you’re a runner, this might be a better trail for you. It takes you by Hale Farm and Indigo Lake, which is worth a look. Instead of doing a loop, I’d recommend doing an out and back “Y” to Hale Farm, back to the trail junction, and then down to the Beaver Marsh. This would be longer than 4 miles as you’ll have to backtrack. Parking for this route is also at Hunt House, located on Bolanz Road.
When is the Best Time to Visit Beaver Marsh?
This trail can be busy in peak season, as Beaver Marsh is one of the most popular sightseeing locations in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. As with all trails, get there early if you want to avoid crowds. However, some of the best times to see wildlife are at dusk. If you are out at night, wear reflective clothing and carry a flashlight.
Since the boardwalk is part of the towpath, look out for cyclists who may be trying to pass. Always stay to the right and keep an eye out for cyclists. The boardwalk goes over water so keep a close eye on children and pets. As with all CVNP trails, dogs are allowed on leashes.
Visiting Beaver Marsh? Let me know your questions in the comments below!