Looking to visit Cuyahoga Valley National Park? Read on to learn more about the park, some of the best hikes and waterfalls to see, and the best season to visit.
Remember to follow the principles of Leave No Trace on in all Ohio parks! Please recreate responsibly.
I had never heard of CVNP before I moved to Cleveland but it is one of the best national parks I’ve been to. Having a national park basically in your backyard is amazing. I only lived in Cleveland for a year but I visited CVNP over 30 times that year!
Cuyahoga Valley National Park Overview
Cuyahoga Valley National Park, or CVNP, is located in northeast Ohio. CVNP is about 30-40 minutes from Cleveland and 15-20 minutes from Akron.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park protects almost 33,000 acres of land. The park has over 140 miles of hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails. It has two visitor centers – Boston Mill Visitor Center and Canal Exploration Center. The park has over 250 historic structures located in the park. It also includes the Ohio and Erie Canals and the Valley Railway.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park generally receives more than 2.2 million recreational visits each year. However, only 20% of those visits come from outside of Ohio. In 2020, it was the 7th most visited National Park.
One of the best things about Cuyahoga Valley National Park is that dogs are allowed. This is NOT the case for most West Coast National parks. There are rules – dogs have to be on a leash and their waste must be carried out of the park. As someone who has a super active dog, this was a game-changer. Why would I ever want to go hiking in a place I couldn’t take my dog?
Unlike other National Parks, Cuyahoga Valley National Park doesn’t charge an entrance fee! I never paid a dime to get in or out of the park. This is so different from my experience out West. Part of the reason I went so often was that it was totally free. If you are looking for an America the Beautiful pass to visit more national parks, you can purchase one online or at the Boston Mills Visitor Center. If you visit, I recommend that you donate to the Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park that will help future generations enjoy the park.
Best Hikes in Cuyahoga Valley National Park
If you’re looking for great hikes in Cuyahoga Valley National Park, you’ve come to the right place! I’ve hiked over 115 miles of trails in CVNP. If you want to read about the Full on CVNP 2 trail challenge I completed, click here!
Some of my favorite hikes in Cuyahoga Valley National Park are listed below.
Ledges Trail is the hike everyone talks about when going to CVNP! With fairytale-like rock formations, Ledges is definitely super different than most of the other hikes in the area and the one I’d recommend if you only have time for one hike. Check out more info about Ledges in this post!
This hike is a little challenging but worth it! If you want an Instagrammable photo or a family Christmas card, the covered bridge that the trail is named for is perfect. For my full review, click here.
I love this one because it has so many variations! I’ve done different parts of this route a bunch of times and I love how it is rarely crowded. Be prepared for single track and a lot of roots if you’re running! Read more about Wetmore Trail here.
Waterfalls in Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Before moving to Ohio, I never thought it would be a place that had beautiful waterfalls. Boy was I wrong! I love seeing how these waterfalls have changed throughout the different seasons. There’s always something different to experience when visiting these waterfalls
Brandywine Falls is the crown jewel of waterfalls in Ohio. It’s 60 feet tall and visible from a wooden platform built next to the falls. It’s beautiful in any season but I like it best in the fall. For more info about visiting Brandywine Falls, click here!
Blue Hen Falls
Blue Hen Falls is a 15-foot waterfall that is also beautiful in any season. Accessible via the Buckeye Trail, this waterfall is a little harder to get to than Brandywine but worth the effort. I loved seeing this waterfall frozen in the winter. Read more about Blue Hen Falls here!
There are also some other great waterfalls in the area that aren’t on National Park lands, such as Buttermilk Falls, Tinker’s Creek Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls.
What Season is the Best to Visit Cuyahoga Valley National Park?
Cuyahoga Valley National Park is beautiful in any season. As someone who has experienced it in every season, I don’t have a favorite. But there are pros and cons of every time of year for visiting the park. Like hiking anywhere, you need to be aware of impending weather changes and carry the right gear.
Winter in Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Winter may not seem like a great time to visit CVNP, but it can be beautiful! You’ll need some extra gear to stay warm and safe, but hiking in the snow is beautiful. And how cool are frozen waterfalls?
Spring in Cuyahoga Valley National Park
As the Subpar Parks review states, CVNP has a LOT OF MUD. I can confirm that this review is not kidding. If you’re headed to CVNP in the spring, try to wait for a string of dry days in a row. This will save both your trail shoes and the trails from too much erosion.
Summer in Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Ohio in the summer can be hot and buggy! It’s great to get outside -just make sure you have enough water for you and any furry friends that come hiking with you. Ticks are also super prevalent, so wear long socks and make sure you do a thorough check for ticks when you get home.
Fall in Cuyahoga Valley National Park
After living in a climate with no seasons for three years, I came back to Ohio obsessed with fall. I love the cooler temperatures and seeing the leaves change color. Fall foliage in Cuyahoga Valley National Park does not disappoint!
If you visit CVNP, let me know your favorite trail in the comments below!
Post Updated September 9, 2022