Art of Ice Age in Cuyahoga

Art of Ice Age in Cuyahoga

One Valley, Two Valley, Old Valley, New Valley

Shaka Guide



Cuyahoga Valley's Origins

I'll tell you about our next stop in just a moment. But first, let's talk about the origins of the Cuyahoga Valley. So, how did the Cuyahoga Valley come to be?

Well, the valley we see today was carved by the Cuyahoga River.

No surprises there. But did you know this is actually the second Cuyahoga Valley? It's true. You see, 400 million years ago, this whole area was under a giant saltwater ocean.

And all the sand, seashells, and animal bones in that ocean settled to the bottom and eventually became rock. After the ocean dried up, an ancient river carved the original Cuyahoga Valley.

Then, about 2 million years ago, global temperatures plummeted and the earth was in the grips of the Pleistocene Ice Age.

The Pleistocene Ice Age

During that time, much of the continent was covered in glaciers, including northern Ohio.

These glaciers scraped along the ground and essentially flattened the valley. But then, about 10,000 years ago, the glaciers melted and the meltwater created the Cuyahoga River.

The word Cuyahoga either comes from the Mohawk Indian word for Crooked River or the Seneca word for Place of the Jawbone.

Both of these names allude to the river's crooked shape as it formed around the glaciers.

And coming up, I'll recommend two hiking trails where you can experience the best of this valley's history and geology.

Recommended Hiking Trails

First up is the Jait Trailhead. It's an optional stop, but I highly recommend it if you have the time and energy.

From the trailhead, you can reach my favorite section of the Buckeye Trail, which follows a ridgeline above the Cuyahoga Valley.

From there, you can look down into the valley from above. While you're there, try to imagine the entire landscape at the same height before the river created the valley.

Imagine a lush green forest of giant oak and hickory trees as far as the eye can see.

You can hike as much or as little as you want, but for the best views, it's at least a three-mile or five-kilometer hike.

There's a Presta Play track at the trailhead with more information. And then, later in the tour, you can explore rocks that made up that ancient seafloor for yourself on the Ledges Trail.

I'll remind you when we get closer.

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