Visit Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Looking to visit Cuyahoga Valley National Park? Read on to learn more about this amazing park, including some of the best things to do!

Table Of Contents
- Cuyahoga Valley National Park Overview
- Best Hikes in Cuyahoga Valley National Park
- Waterfalls in Cuyahoga Valley National Park
- Best Season to Visit Cuyahoga Valley National Park
- Best Places to Stay Near CVNP
Brandywine Falls, one of the park’s main attractions
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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 thirty times in that one year.

As always, follow the principles of leave no trace when you're out exploring! Pack out all trash, leave wildlife alone, and generally leave it better than you found it - for more information visit the Leave No Trace Center.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park Overview

Cuyahoga Valley National Park, also known 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 2.8 million recreational visits in 2023, only 20% of which come from outside of Ohio. Yet in 2020, it was the 7th most visited National Park. Kind of makes you think less of people who hate on Ohio!

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 most 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 to CVNP so often was that it was totally free. If you are looking for an America the Beautiful pass to visit other 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.

Cuyahoga Valley is a great road trip from Pittsburgh. For more, check out my guide to the Best Road Trips From Pittsburgh!

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 125 miles of trails in CVNP. Each trail has unique characteristics but there is something for every level of hiker in this park.

I’ve listed out some of my favorite hikes in Cuyahoga Valley National Park below!

Ledges Trail

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. It’s the one I’d recommend if you only have time for one hike. Check out my guide to Ledges Trail for the best tips for exploring this trail!

Covered Bridge

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. Check out my full review of the Covered Bridge Trail.

Beaver Marsh

The wheelchair and stroller accessible Beaver Marsh trail is the perfect trail for young children or hikers with mobility issues. This trail is a testament to conservation efforts, as the Portage Sierra Club cleaned up this area over thirty years ago. As the trail name suggests, it’s a great place to view wildlife including herons, turtles, and if you’re lucky, beavers! Check out my Beaver Marsh trail review for more information on visiting.

Wetmore Trail

I love this hike 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.

Want to learn more about CVNP? Check out my experience doing a 115 mile hiking challenge called Full On CVNP. It's the hiking challenge that started my love of hiking!

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

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. Check out my guide to Blue Hen Falls!

Photo by Jamye Jamison
Looking for other amazing waterfalls near CVNP? Check out Buttermilk Falls, Tinker’s Creek Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls

Best Season to Visit Cuyahoga Valley National Park

What is the best season to visit Cuyahoga Valley? 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. 

In March, I layered up for my CVNP hikes!

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. If a trail is muddy, walk through the mud, not around it.

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!

Where to Stay Near Cuyahoga National Park

Unfortunately, Cuyahoga doesn’t have camping available for park visitors. However, there are tons of great places to stay close to the park in hotels or rentals like Airbnb or VRBOs.

Below is a map of places to stay near the park!

If you visit CVNP, let me know your favorite trail in the comments below!

Post Updated May 7, 2024

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