Hankering for a great hike? There are dozens of gorgeous hiking trails in Cuyahoga Valley National Park that range from leisurely strolls to strenuous treks. The trail system measures over 125 miles long and winds through the park's various habitats, including wetlands, old fields, woodlands, and more. Check out the best hikes in Cuyahoga Valley National Park!
Best Hikes in Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Cuyahoga Valley National Park trails are the perfect way to get out and explore the park.
Cuyahoga Valley Hiking Tips
Check trail conditions and the weather forecast before heading out. This is especially crucial if you plan on hiking during the winter and spring, as this is when the park sees the most precipitation and trail closures.
Carry plenty of water. Although none of the trails at CVNP are overly challenging, it’s important to stay hydrated as you hike.
Stay on the Trail. It may be tempting to explore the caves or scurry up the striking rock formations, but staying on the trail will help protect the fragile habitats within the park.
Park in designated areas. Parking alongside the road is prohibited, and vehicles parked illegally may be towed.
Bring your pooch. Dogs are allowed on most trails at Cuyahoga Valley National Park!
Plan to hike in the off-season to avoid crowds. Summer is the busiest season at Cuyahoga Valley National Park, so if you want some solitude on the trails, plan to visit during the spring or fall. During winter, the park is all but deserted, and layers of ice and snow make it extremely scenic. Just be sure to pack accordingly for winter weather and slippery trails!
What to pack for hiking in Cuyahoga Valley
Proper footwear. A good pair of hiking boots or sturdy walking shoes will make your hiking experience in CVNP much more enjoyable. Trails are often wet and/or muddy, so make sure your shoe of choice is waterproof!
A reusable water bottle. Stay hydrated as you hike!
A rain jacket. As we mentioned above, Cuyahoga Valley gets a lot of precipitation. Don’t let the rain ruin your hike - bring a rain jacket!
Bug Spray. All the rain and water features make the park popular with mosquitos, so don’t forget to pack some bug spray for your hike!
Length: 2.2 miles
Elevation Gain/Loss: 80 ft
Time: 1.5 hours
Location: Kendall Park Road
Of all the beautiful trails in Cuyahoga Valley, Ledges Trail is perhaps the very best. While it's a relatively short and easy trek, this hike is extremely rewarding.
Named for the plateau of interesting rock formations that it winds past, Ledges Tail is all about the views.
In addition to the cool rocks, you’ll wander past ancient caves and cliffs. The lookout point along Ledges Trail has one of the most stunning views in the entire park, especially when the fall colors are in full swing.
Note that this trail system is a bit complex, so grab a trail map and watch for signs as you hike. If you’d like to extend your hike or just switch up the route a bit, you can begin your trek from the nearby Pine Grove, Kendall Lake, or Haskell Run trailheads.
Brandywine Gorge Trail
Length: 1.4 miles
Elevation Gain/Loss: 190 ft
Time: 1 hour
Location: Brandywine Road
As the name suggests, the Brandywine Gorge Trail offers up stunning views of the famous Brandywine Falls.
This is the largest waterfall in the park, with the falls cascading down over 60 feet through the picturesque gorge. While you could technically just take the short boardwalk to the falls, hiking the full loop trail is so much more rewarding!
Obviously, the falls are the highlight of the trail, but there’s plenty of other beautiful scenery along the way, including a creek, hilly woodlands, and the lovely Inn at Brandywine Falls hotel. Pro-tip, this is one of the only falls in the park that gushes year-round, making it perfect for a winter hike!
The trail splits when you are near Brandywine Falls so you can decide if you want to take the stairs down to look at the falls closer or enjoy a view looking over the falls.
There are quite a few stairs so make sure you are prepared!
Blue Hen Falls from Boston Mill via Buckeye Trail
Length: 3 miles
Elevation Gain/Loss: 580 ft
Time: 1-2 hours
Location: Boston Mill Visitor Center
Buckeye Trail is a massive trail system stretching over 1400 miles across the state of Ohio. A few scenic miles of Buckeye Trail wind through Cuyahoga and one of the best sections leads to Blue Hen Falls.
Blue Hen Falls may not be as big or popular as Brandywine Falls, but it definitely deserves a visit if you have the time. This double waterfall spills out of a flat sandstone lip and into the wide gorge below.
Before you reach the falls, you’ll hike through a lush old-growth forest. Note that this route is one of the steepest in the park.
Towpath Trail (Ohio and Erie Canal)
Length: 19.5 miles
Elevation Gain/Loss: 135 ft
Time: up to 10 hours
Location: multiple trailheads lead to Towpath Trail
Towpath Trail is perhaps the most famous trail in Cuyahoga Valley National Park, with millions of hikers walking along this route each year.
The flat and easy path follows the old Ohio and Erie canal system that once connected various Ohio cities to Lake Erie. From 1800 to 1917, mules followed the trail and pulled cargo and passenger boats along the canal.
Today, the trail is simply used for recreation like hiking, biking, and jogging. The entire trail is about 87 miles and connects the cities of Akron and Cleveland. About 20 miles of this long trail wind through CVNP and feature incredible views of the canal, waterfalls, locks, and wildlife.
There are ten trailheads along the park’s Towpath Trail, which makes it easy to pick a section rather than attempting the whole 20 miles.
Length: 4.5 miles
Elevation Gain/Loss: 200 ft
Time: 3 hours
Location: Oak Hill Trailhead (Oak Hill Road)
While there is no stand-out feature like a raging waterfall or domineering rock formation along this route, Plateau Trail remains a favorite at Cuyahoga Valley. The rugged path and quiet serenity are the big draws to this trail, and it’s one of the longest stand-alone day hikes in the park.
You’ll feel at ease amongst the lush forested surroundings, and there are also two ponds along the trail. There is one big hill with a steep incline, but other than that, this route is a fairly easy trek.
Tree Farm Trail
Length: 2.75 miles
Elevation Gain/Loss: 80 ft
Time: 1.5 miles
Location: Horseshoe Pond Trailhead (Major Road)
This easy, family-friendly trail leads through Cuyahoga Valley’s thick forest. You’ll hike past rows of towering pines, which were once part of a tree farm that the trail was named for.
In addition to the trees, hikers will also catch views of the lovely Horseshoe Pond and likely tons of wildlife. Keep your eyes peeled for squirrels, deer, chipmunks, and rabbits.
While it may not be the most exciting hike in the park in terms of unique scenery or technical hiking, it is a great spot to get some peace and quiet and enjoy the natural beauty of the forest. Tree Farm Trail is especially beautiful in the fall when the leaves begin to change.
Salt Run Trail
Length: 3.25 miles
Elevation Gain/Loss: 160 ft
Time: 2 hours
Location: Kendall Lake Trailhead (Kendall Park Road)
Situated in the Kendall Lake Area, Salt Run Trail is a great option for those who are looking to get the blood pumping. This trail is a bit more technical than some of the other routes, with an occasionally steep and often uneven path.
The trail leads through dense foliage to the highlight of the hike - White Oak Spring. This bubbling brook sits at the base of a large white oak tree and makes a great spot to enjoy the peace of the lush forest.
If you’d like to extend your hike, you can hop on the 1.1-mile Kendall Lake connector trail.
Pine Grove Trail
Length: 2.2 miles
Elevation Gain/Loss: 105 ft
Time: 1.25 hours
Location: Kendall Park Road
To really penetrate the thick forests of Cuyahoga Valley, there’s no better trail in the park than Pine Grove Trail.
This 2.2-mile trail will lead you through some of the most densely populated forests in CVNP, and don’t worry, there’s a lot more to see than just pine!
As you hike, you’ll also see towering hemlock and oak trees, and if you’re hiking in the spring or summer there are carpets of beautiful wildflowers that blossom all along the path.
Pine Grove Trail isn’t particularly difficult in terms of length or technicality, but the path is a bit bumpy. You may want to leave the kids and dogs behind and lace up your hiking boots for this one.
Deer Lick Cave Loop Trail
Length: 3.9 miles
Elevation Gain/Loss: 239 ft
Time: 2 hours
Location: Nature Center Trailhead OR Deerlick Cave Trailhead (Valley Parkway)
If you don’t mind putting your navigation skills to use, hiking the Deer Lick Cave Loop Trail is a great way to spend the day in Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
Although Deer Lick Cave isn’t a true cave (it’s more like a bluff waterfall with a small cavern), it’s incredibly scenic and slightly less frequented than some of the other more popular areas of the park.
To get there you have two options - the Deerlick Cave Trailhead off Valley Parkway or the Nature Center Trailhead. Starting at the Nature Center and hiking clockwise will net you some of the best views while starting from Valley Parkway will cut about a mile off the trail.
We recommend starting at the Nature Center Trailhead to get the full effect of this scenic hike. Start clockwise and take a right onto Buckeye Trail at the junction. From there, you’ll ascend a ridge and come to the small but magnificent cave.
Tinkers Creek Gorge Trail
Length: 4.9 miles
Elevation Gain/Loss: 449 ft
Time: 2 hours
Location: Bridal Trail Trailhead (Gorge Parkway)
As the name suggests, this trail is all about Tinkers Creek Gorge. Protected since 1967, this steep and rocky gorge is a beautiful landmark and the highlight of the trail.
However, to get to this serene, protected area, you’ll have to walk past a golf course alongside the road.
The modern elements of this trail remind us that this spot could very well have been destroyed and developed rather than protected, as much of the area surrounding it is.
Bridal Trail to Bridal Veils Falls
Length: 4.3 miles
Elevation Gain/Loss: 334 ft
Time: 1.5 hours
Location: Overlook Lane
Hop on the Bridal Trail and head to another one of the park’s beautiful waterfalls. Bridal Veils Falls is about 20 feet high, and the viewing platform allows you to overlook the gorge.
The trail is not particularly difficult but does have some rugged hills along the way. You’ll also encounter two small creeks and likely tons of mosquitos, so don’t forget to layer on the bug spray for this one!
If you want to peep the falls but don’t want to undertake such a long hike, you can park in the lot off of Gorge Parkway and take the short .25-mile walk to the overlook instead.
On the other hand, if you want to extend your hike you could continue walking until you reach Buttermilk Falls just a bit further up the trail.
Length: 40 miles
Elevation Gain/Loss: Varies by section
Time: Varies by section
Location: Multiple trailheads lead to Buckeye Trail
Just like the Towpath Trail, Buckeye Trail is a massive, state-wide trail that passes through Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The park contains about 40 miles of the total 1,444-mile Buckeye Trail, and there are eight different sections you can choose to hike.
One of the most popular sections is the Jaite to Boston stretch along the Northern Section. You can pick up the trail at the Red Lock Trailhead off Highland Road, about a half mile east of Riverview Road.
This is often referred to as the most scenic section of Buckeye Trail in CVNP, with beautiful views of wooded forests, several creeks, and even a couple of waterfalls. You can hike this 5.5-mile jaunt out-and-back style, or hop onto the Towpath Trail to make it a loop.
There are so many great Hikes in Cuyahoga Valley National Park to enjoy during your visit.
Additional Cuyahoga Valley National Park Resources
Inn at Brandywine Falls
There is no camping in Cuyahoga National Park
Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad
Lodging near Cuyahoga Valley NP
There is one National Park Lodge within the park...The Inn at Brandywine Falls.
Nearby lodging includes:
La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Cleveland Macedonia - take advantage of a free breakfast buffet, a gym, and a business center. For some rest and relaxation, visit the hot tub. Guests can connect to free in-room Wi-Fi.
Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Cleveland - Richfield - look forward to a free breakfast buffet, laundry facilities, and a gym at Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Cleveland - Richfield, an IHG Hotel. In addition to a 24-hour business center, guests can connect to free in-room Wi-Fi.
Hilton Garden Inn Cleveland/Twinsburg - Take advantage of shopping on site, a garden, and dry cleaning/laundry services at Hilton Garden Inn Cleveland/Twinsburg. For some rest and relaxation, visit the hot tub. The onsite restaurant, Blue Canyon Kitchen, features seafood. Free in-room Wi-Fi is available to all guests, along with car rentals on site and a bar.
Fairfield Inn and Suites by Marriott Akron Stow - Consider a stay at Fairfield Inn and Suites by Marriott Akron Stow and take advantage of a free breakfast buffet, a terrace, and dry cleaning/laundry services. Stay connected with free in-room Wi-Fi, and guests can find other amenities such as a 24-hour gym and a business center.
Click on the map below to see additional lodging and vacation rentals near the park.