Brecksville Northfield/ Shutterstock Image

Brecksville Northfield/ Shutterstock Image

Best Things To Do At Cuyahoga Valley National Park


What is Cuyahoga Valley National Park known for?

Map of Cuyahoga Valley National Park driving tour, showcasing scenic routes and key points of interest.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park is known for a couple of key features. The first, and most obvious, is the Cuyahoga Valley itself.

The Valley was carved by the Cuyahoga River 85-mile Cuyahoga River, which runs right through the park and ends up in Lake Erie.

Running alongside the river are the remnants of the Ohio and Erie Canal, which was completed in 1832.

It, and canals like it, were used to transport people and goods throughout the state, transforming it from a frontier land to an early economic powerhouse.

And finally, the park is also known as the birthplace of the modern nature conservation movement.

Public outcry at just how polluted the Cuyahoga River was in the 1960s eventually led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency. 

So, while most National Parks exist to conserve unique and iconic natural features, like giant sequoia trees or bubbling hot springs, Cuyahoga Valley National Park exists to preserve the area’s history and to showcase the power of conservation.

Amazing Things To Do at Cuyahoga Valley National Park

1. Explore Cuyahoga Valley with Shaka Guide 🤙

A scenic waterfall cascades gracefully in the foreground, while a map of the surrounding area is displayed on the app.

Take Shaka Guide with you on your driving journey to the Cuyahoga Valley. We take you to all the highlights:

  • the visitor centers
  • the hiking trails
  • the waterfalls
  • historical sites, and
  • places to see wildlife

You’ll hear the history of the valley: from the story of stone going back hundreds of millions of years, to the more recent human history of settlement and the canal era.

Follow the river through the park, through time, and through its rescue, from a polluted river on fire to a new benchmark in conservation.

2. Ride the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad

A train swiftly moves along the tracks, cutting through the landscape with speed and precision.

Take a ride aboard the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Train. One of only a handful of National Parks with active rail lines, the train runs north-south through the park.

You can use it as an alternative to the car, or you can purchase tickets for special events, like breakfast, wine tastings, and even a North Pole Christmas excursion!

3. Hike the Ledges Trail 

A scenic canyon path with fallen leaves covering the ground, creating a narrow and picturesque trail.Shutterstock Image

No visit to Cuyahoga Valley would be complete without hiking the Ledges Trail.

This 1.5-mile trail takes you on a geological journey through time, as you hike through giant ledges that date back hundreds of millions of years. 

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4. Visit the Canal Exploration Center 

Visit the Canal Exploration Center, housed inside an old canal-side tavern. Explore the interactive exhibits, and learn what life was like during Ohio’s canal boom.

5. Bike the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail 

Wooden walkway bridge with fallen leaves on the ground.Shutterstock Image

Bring your own bicycle, or rent a bike from any number of bike rental businesses in the park.

The Towpath Trail is 101 miles long, 20 of which are inside the park. It’s a mixed-use trail, and most of it is paved, which makes for a smooth ride.

You can also connect to several city and county park trails to extend your cycling.

If you’d rather have a mountain bike, check out the East Rim Trail system for stunning views, varied terrain, and exciting obstacles.

6. Bird Watching 

blue birdShutterstock Image

Cuyahoga Valley National Park has been designated an Important Bird Area by the National Audubon Society.

You can observe more than 200 species of birds, at any time of the year. There are:

  • Bald Eagles
  • Great Blue Herons
  • Baltimore Orioles
  • Blue-headed Vireos
  • Golden-crowned Kinglets
  • Cerulean Warblers
  • Eastern Meadowlarks, and so many more!

7. Questing 

Want to have a sleuthing adventure in Cuyahoga Valley?

Questing is designed to help you discover the natural and cultural highlights of the park.

Follow the clues, collect the stamps, and find the treasure!

Pick up a Questing brochure at the Boston Mill Visitor Center, or download one from the Ohio & Erie Canalway Questing website.

The questing season runs from April 15 through November 15. 

8. Fishing

Most National Parks don’t allow fishing, but Ohio’s Cuyahoga Valley National Park is an exception.

The park began as a National Recreation Area, and some of those recreational activities have carried through to its new life as a National park.

Cast your line into the water, and find some peace and quiet on the riverbank.

Just make sure to get a valid Ohio fishing license before setting your hook.

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9. Paddling the River

Want to see the Cuyahoga River up close? There’s no better way than to get out there on the water.

Bring your own canoes or kayaks and paddle the river, which runs north through the park, toward Lake Erie.

There are five canoe launches inside the park for your convenience.

The National Park doesn’t maintain the river for paddlers, so paddle at your own risk. 

10. Farmers Markets 

If you visit the park in the fall, be sure to check out the Cuyahoga Valley Farmers Market on Saturdays, located on Howe Meadow.

Actually, the Farmer's Market runs most of the year! In the colder months, the market moves across the field to the Old Trail School.

You can also check out Szalay's Farm & Market, open June through October.

In addition to fresh and delicious produce and local foods, you can also explore their expansive corn maze!

Best Time to Visit Cuyahoga Valley National Park

waterfalls in the forestShutterstock Image

The best time to visit Cuyahoga Valley National Park is…anytime! The park is open year-round and offers year-round activities.

There’s boating, golf, waterfalls, a living history museum, and so much more in the Summer.

In the fall, you can enjoy the farmers markets and harvest festivals. In the winter, you can go downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing on the trails. 

FAQs about Cuyahoga Valley National Park

What are some things to bring before going Cuyahoga Valley?

Before going to Cuyahoga Valley, bring hiking shoes, water, sunscreen, insect repellent, and a camera. Also, check out the things to know before heading to the park.

How Many Days Do You Need in Cuyahoga Valley National Park?

There’s more on Shaka Guide’s tour of Cuyahoga Valley than you could possibly do in a day. We recommend two days to get the most out of the park. 

How much does it cost to enter Cuyahoga Valley National Park?

Cuyahoga Valley National Park is free to enter.

Can you drive through Cuyahoga Valley National Park?

Cuyahoga Valley National Park is very car-friendly.

Are dogs allowed in Cuyahoga Valley National Park?

Leashed pets are welcome in most areas of the park unless otherwise posted.

Final Thoughts

couples using shaka guide

Cuyahoga Valley National Park is a recent and welcome addition to America’s National parklands.

More than maybe any other National Park, Cuyahoga showcases the power and importance of conservation.

It has been transformed from a filthy river, scrap yards, and toxic waste dump, into a beautiful haven for local wildlife.

Cuyahoga Valley should absolutely be on your National Park bucket list. The park has:

  • 125 miles of hiking trails
  • 100 waterfalls
  • 15 connected metro parks
  • scenic drives, and more

So, what are you waiting for? Download Shaka Guide’s tour of Cuyahoga Valley today, and let’s explore together.

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Ready to take the tour? Check out Shaka Guide's Cuyahoga Valley National Park Tour!

We hope that we’ve given you all the information you need to make the most of your day. Your vacation is extremely important to us so if you have any questions feel free to reach out at aloha@shakaguide.com.

For more detailed information to help you plan, check out our Cuyahoga Valley National Park Itinerary and Know Before You Go article.

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Scenic hiking trails, waterfalls, and wildlife in Cuyahoga Valley National Park.


Cuyahoga Valley Waterfalls


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