Outdoor summer fun steps away at CVNP

by Emily Canning-Dean

Whether it is hiking or biking a trail, taking a kayak down the river, basking in the beauty of nature or enjoying an outdoor evening concert, Cuyahoga Valley National Park provides summer fun activities that don’t require a lot of travel.

Pamela Barnes, public information officer for the National Park Service, said CVNP has a multitude of trails to choose from, including those for the experienced hiker and others for families or individuals who just want to enjoy some outdoor time.

“The towpath trail is always a good choice because it is flat and accessible and stroller friendly,” Barnes said. “You can go for as much or as little as you want. The weekends can be pretty busy when there are a lot of people biking, so it might be a good idea to check out the trail on the weekdays.”

Barnes said the towpath stretches for 20 miles throughout the park and then continues all the way to New Philadelphia.

“Another great trail for accessibility is Brandywine Falls,” she said. “There is a boardwalk that is ADA accessible so you can get down to view the falls, then there is the Gorge Trail that is about 1.5 miles.”

Barnes said the Beaver Marsh is a great spot for anyone who wants to sit and watch wildlife. She said it is a short walk from the Ira Road Trailhead and includes a boardwalk and benches where visitors can sit and take in the beautiful scenery.

For those looking for a longer hike, a trail that starts at the park’s visitors center will take hikers on a five-mile loop to Brandywine Falls and back. The Ledges Trail also provides beautiful views of natural rock formations.

“A beautiful but less traveled trail is the Oak Hill Trail,” Barnes said. “It is in a beautiful wooded area.”

Paddling down the Cuyahoga River in a kayak is also a popular park activity.

“People can certainly bring their own kayak, but the river through the park does require some skill,” she said. “Any section of the river within the park is more of a natural area so kayakers could experience obstacles in the river that could change day to day. It’s not really good for beginners.”

Barnes said a popular launch spot is the area between Boston Road and Station Road.

She also recommends that people check the park’s website calendar at nps.gov/cuva/planyourvisit/calendar.htm to find a schedule of events that include family friendly activities, such as Campfire Saturdays, Family Fun Days and Sunday Celebrations.

She said the Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park website, conservancyforcvnp.org, is also a good place to check as it lists activities and events in the park like outdoor concerts and yoga hikes.

“I would also recommend stopping in at the park’s visitors center and getting some trip planning advice from the ranger there,” she said. “They can really help.”

Barnes said the visitors center also has information about Junior Ranger activities.

“Kids can pick up a Junior Ranger activity book, then complete the activities and earn a Junior Ranger badge,” she said. “The program is designed for kids ages 7 to 12, but we wouldn’t turn any aged child away.”  ∞