Read on to learn more about why Blue Hen Falls is one of the best waterfalls in Ohio and how to access it via Blue Hen Falls Trail.
Why Visit Blue Hen Falls?
Blue Hen Falls, a 15-foot waterfall, is one of the main attractions in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. It is named because, as legend would have it, a local farmer saw the carcass of a blue chicken in the bottom of the falls. In all likelihood, it was a blue heron. (If you want to see actual live herons in CVNP, visit the Beaver Marsh trail!)
The waterfall is 15 feet high and cascades over a sandstone cliff. If you’re looking for a trail that is a good bang for your buck, the Blue Hen Falls Trail is short but scenic!
Blue Hen Falls is just one of over 100 of Cuyahoga Valley National Park’s waterfalls. Looking for more Ohio waterfalls? Check out Brandywine Falls, the highest waterfall in Ohio. If you’re only looking to see one waterfall on your trip, Brandywine is your bet as it’s easier to access and taller.
How to Get to Blue Hen Falls
To access Blue Hen Falls, park at the Boston Mills Visitor Center. This is located at 5793 Boston Mills Road, Peninsula, OH. The visitor center has bathrooms and rangers to help you if you get lost. Every CVNP ranger I’ve met has been incredibly friendly and willing to answer my questions. Midwest nice is real, y’all!
Use the Buckeye Trail to access Blue Hen Falls. (For more information on the Buckeye Trail, see my post all about it!) There will be signs from the visitors center pointing you in the right direction to the Blue Hen Falls trailhead. You will need to cross Boston Mills Road to the Buckeye Trail. As always, I recommend downloading the AllTrails app prior to your hike.
The Blue Hen Falls hike is 3 miles long. It requires an unmarked road crossing so be cautious! For hikers, this trail will take about 1.5 to 2 hours. For those that want to visit nature to get away from civilization, be aware that you can hear the highway for most of this trail. The elevation gain of this trail is 580 ft. As you can see from the AllTrails map, there is a parking lot closer to the falls than the visitor’s center. However, it is extremely small and it is unlikely that you will be able to get a spot there. I’d recommend planning to park at the visitor’s center and doing the whole hike.
If you want something a little longer, I visited Blue Hen falls as part of the Full on CVNP 2 Challenge. This segment was named Columbia Run. It was 5.6 miles and I completed it on one of the coldest days I have ever gone running (10 degrees!). This segment is an out and back on the Buckeye Trail. It had over 900 feet of elevation change. It was CHALLENGING but beautiful in the snow.
Don't forget to bring your ten essentials for day hiking when visiting Blue Hen Falls!
When to Visit Blue Hen Falls
As with many trails in CVNP, get there early! This is one of the main attractions of the park and the trail can feel crowded. If you want solitude, go early in the day, especially during summer and nice days.
While I generally prefer being on the trails when it is above freezing, frozen Blue Hen falls was incredible. When I visited in February, there were also a lot of other hikers out snowshoeing or hiking the trail. Ohio natives do not let bad weather get in the way!
Blue Hen Falls is also gorgeous in the fall. While visiting after a rainfall makes the trails muddier, you’ll be guaranteed to see more water flow in the falls.
Whatever route you take, this is a more strenuous trail, with a lot of elevation change. I would recommend this for the more experienced hiker and those with surer footing. This trail can get very slick and muddy when it rains. Make sure to wear your trail shoes or Yaktrax! Depending on your comfort on muddy inclines, you may also want to bring trekking poles or a walking stick.
Love waterfalls? Check out Freedom Falls, only two hours away in Rockland County, PA.
Is the Blue Hen Falls Hike Worth It?
Many reviews on AllTrails might not agree with me, but I say yes! Yes, it’s muddy. Yes, it’s smaller than Brandywine Falls (and most waterfalls I’ve ever seen). Yes, the trail has a lot of elevation gain and is rather strenuous for a short hike. But I thought Blue Hen Falls was lovely to look at and worth the adventure. And if I can think that when it’s 10 degrees out, it’s probably way worth it in the summer or fall.
Updated July 17 2022