Cuyahoga Valley National Park

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Cuyahoga Valley National Park
IUCN category II (national park)
Cuyahoga Valley National Park.jpg
Bedrock outcrops, such as this one, can be found throughout the park
Map showing the location of Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Map showing the location of Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Location in the United States
Map showing the location of Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Map showing the location of Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Location in Ohio
Location Summit County & Cuyahoga County, Ohio, US
Nearest city Cleveland, Akron
Coordinates 41°14′30″N 81°32′59″W / 41.24167°N 81.54972°W / 41.24167; -81.54972Coordinates: 41°14′30″N 81°32′59″W / 41.24167°N 81.54972°W / 41.24167; -81.54972
Area 32,572 acres (51 sq mi; 132 km2)[1]
Established October 11, 2000
Visitors 2,226,879 (in 2017)[2]
Governing body National Park Service
Website Official website Edit this at Wikidata

Cuyahoga Valley National Park is a United States national park that preserves and reclaims the rural landscape along the Cuyahoga River between Akron and Cleveland in Northeast Ohio. Surrounded by urban areas, with a high degree of development that includes a dense road network, small towns, and private human-made attractions, Cuyahoga Valley National Park differs markedly from most of the other national parks.

The 32,572-acre (51 sq mi; 132 km2) park[1] is administered by the National Park Service, but within its boundaries there are areas independently managed as city parks or private businesses. Cuyahoga Valley was originally designated as a National Recreation Area in 1974. It was redesignated as a national park 26 years later in 2000, and remains the only national park that originated as a national recreation area.

Cuyahoga Valley is the only national park in the state of Ohio, and one of just seven national parks located in the Midwestern United States region and one of two situated next to the Great Lakes.


Animals found in the park include raccoons, muskrats, coyotes, skunks, red foxes, beavers, peregrine falcons, river otters, bald eagles, opossums, three species of moles, white-tailed deer, Canada geese, gray foxes, minks, great blue herons, and seven species of bats.[3]

Administrative history[edit]

The valley began providing recreation for urban dwellers in the 1870s when people came from nearby cities for carriage rides or leisure boat trips along the canal. In 1880, the Valley Railroad became another way to escape urban industrial life. Actual park development began in the 1910s and 1920s with the establishment of Cleveland and Akron metropolitan park districts. In 1929 the estate of Cleveland businessman Hayward Kendall donated 430 acres (170 ha) around the Richie Ledges and a trust fund to the state of Ohio. Kendall's will stipulated that the "property should be perpetually used for park purposes". It became Virginia Kendall park, in honor of his mother. In the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps built much of the park's infrastructure including what are now Happy Days Lodge and the shelters at Octagon, Ledges, and Kendall Lake.

Although the regional parks safeguarded certain places, by the 1960s local citizens feared that urban sprawl would overwhelm the Cuyahoga Valley's natural beauty. There were also concerns about the environmental degradation of the Cuyahoga River, which was one of the most polluted river in the United States, and as such caught fire several times. Active citizens joined forces with state and national government staff to find a long-term solution. Finally, on December 27, 1974, President Gerald Ford signed the bill establishing the Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area.

The National Park Service acquired the 47-acre (19 ha) Krejci Dump in 1985 to include as part of the recreation area. They requested a thorough analysis of the site's contents from the Environmental Protection Agency. After the survey identified extremely toxic materials, the area was closed in 1986 and designated a superfund site.[4] Litigation was filed against potentially responsible parties, which included Ford, GM, Chrysler, 3M, and Waste Management of Ohio. All the companies except 3M agreed to a settlement; 3M lost at trial.[5]

Cleanup began in 1987 and had not been completed as of mid-2011, although most of the area had been restored to its original state as wetlands.[6]

The area was redesignated a national park by Congress on October 11, 2000,[7] with the passage of the Department of the Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2001, House Bill 4578, 106th congress.[8] It is administered by the National Park Service. David Berger National Memorial in Beachwood, Ohio is also managed through Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

The Richfield Coliseum, a multipurpose arena in the Cuyahoga River area, was demolished in 1999 and the now-empty site became part of Cuyahoga Valley National Park upon its designation in 2000. It has since become a grassy meadow popular with birdwatchers.


The park features a rich mix of natural, man-made, and private attractions, unique amongst the other national parks. It includes compatible-use sites not owned by the federal government, including several local regional parks in the Cleveland Metroparks and Summit Metro Parks systems.

The traditional terrain of a national park is represented by forests, rolling hills, narrow ravines, wetlands, river scenery, and waterfalls. There are about 100 waterfalls in the Cuyahoga Valley, and the most popular is Brandywine Falls, the tallest waterfall in the park and the tallest in Northeast Ohio at 65 feet. The Ledges include a rock outcropping that gives an unobstructed view across the valley's wooded scenery facing west. Many caves are found amongst the boulders strewn in the forest nearby. Wildlife is plentiful.

The park has many trails, most notably the 20-mile (32 km) Towpath Trail, which follows a former stretch of the 308-mile (496 km) Ohio and Erie Canal and is popular for hiking, bicycling, and running. Skiing and sled-riding are available during the winter at Kendall Hills.[9]. Visitors can play golf, or take scenic excursions and special event railroad tours on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.[10] that also facilitates access to the Towpath Trail.

Within the lush farmland landscape, the park offers an array of preserved and restored displays of 19th and early 20th century sustainable farming and pastoral or rural living, most notably the Hale Farm & Village while catering to contemporary cultural interests with art exhibits, outdoor concerts, and theater performances in venues such as Blossom Music Center or Kent State University's Porthouse Theatre. In the mid-1980s, the park hosted the National Folk Festival.

Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail[edit]

Boston Store Visitor Center

The multi-purpose Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath trail was developed by the National Park Service and is the major trail through Cuyahoga Valley National Park. It runs almost 21 miles (33½ km) from Rockside Road, Independence, OH in the north to Summit County's Bike & Hike trail in the south. It follows the Cuyahoga River for much of its length. Restrooms can be found at several trailheads along the way and commercial food and drink can be found on Rockside Road, at the Boston Store in Peninsula, and at the farmer's market on Botzum Road (seasonally). There are also several visitor centers along the way. At Rockside Road the trail connects to Cleveland Metroparks trail, which travels another 6 miles (9½ km) North. The Summit County trail runs through Akron and south. The "towpath trail" continues through Stark and Tuscarawas counties down to Zoar, Ohio, running almost 70 more miles with only one significant (1 mile) interruption. Sections of the towpath trail outside of Cuyahoga Valley National Park are owned and maintained by various state and local agencies. The trail also meets the Buckeye Trail in the national park (near Boston Store). Another section of the Summit County Bike & Hike Trail system (connecting to the nearby Brandywine Falls, and also to the Cleveland Metroparks Bedford Reservation and Solon in Cuyahoga County; Hudson and Stow in Summit County; and Kent and Ravenna in Portage County, Ohio) is nearby.

Seasonally, the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad allows visitors to travel along the towpath from Rockside Road to Akron, getting off or on at any of the six other stops along the way. This is especially popular with bikers and for viewing and photographing fall colors. CVSR is independently owned and operated; their website lists days and times.


Restored Ohio & Erie Canal Lock at the Canal Exploration Center

The Towpath Trail follows the historic route of the Ohio & Erie Canal. Before the canal was built, Ohio was a sparsely settled wilderness where travel was difficult and getting crops to market was nearly impossible. The canal, built between 1825 and 1832, provided a successful transportation route from Cleveland, on Lake Erie, to Portsmouth, on the Ohio River. The canal opened up Ohio to the rest of the settled eastern United States.[11]

Numerous wayside exhibits provide information about canal features and sites of historic interest.[12] There is also a virtual tour.[11][13]

Today visitors can walk or ride along the same path that the mules used to tow the canal boats loaded with goods and passengers. The scene is different than it was then; the canal was full of water carrying a steady flow of boats amongst the constant conversations of "canawlers." Evidence of beavers can be seen in many places along the trail.[11]

Stanford House (formerly Stanford Hostel)[edit]

Stanford House located in Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Located in the scenic Cuyahoga Valley near Peninsula, Ohio, Stanford House is a historic 19th-century farm home built in the 1830s by George Stanford, one of the first settlers in the Western Reserve. In 1978, the NPS purchased the property to act as a youth hostel in conjunction with the American Youth Hostels (AYH) organization. In March 2011, Stanford Hostel became Stanford House, Cuyahoga Valley National Park's first in-park lodging facility. The home was renovated by the Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park[14] and the National Park Service.[15][16]

Towpath trailheads[edit]

Lock 28 of the Ohio and Erie Canal, in the vicinity of Peninsula, Ohio. Lock chamber, looking north. Original construction dated to 1827. With a depth of 16 feet (4.9 m), Lock #28 was the deepest lock in that portion of the Ohio and Erie Canal between Akron and Cleveland hence its popular name, Deep Lock.
Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath trailheads
Trailhead map
Lock 39
41°22′24″N 81°36′59″W / 41.373272°N 81.616382°W / 41.373272; -81.616382 (Canal Visitor) Canal Visitor Center Canal Road & Hillside Road, Valley View, Ohio 44125,
1 12 miles (2.4 km) south of Rockside Road
Frazee House Canal Road, Valley View, Ohio,
3 12 miles (5.6 km) south of Rockside Road
Stephen Frazee House NPS.jpg
41°19′10″N 081°35′15″W / 41.31944°N 81.58750°W / 41.31944; -81.58750 (Station Road Bridge)[17] Station Road Bridge
Red Lock
Boston Store Boston Mills Road,
110 mile (160 m) east of Riverview Road
Lock 29
Hunt Farm Visitor Information Center Bolanz Road,
between Akron-Peninsula Road and Riverview Road
Indian Mound
Map all coordinates using: OpenStreetMap 
Download coordinates as: KML · GPX


The "V" course of the Cuyahoga River is rather unique, first flowing southwest, and then abruptly turning north to drain into Lake Erie not far from its origin. The left arm of this "V", flowing north through the park, corresponds to an older preglacial valley, while the right arm corresponds to relatively new drainage. The new segment cut into the old at Cuyahoga Falls, the base of the "V". Other streams have made routes into the Cuyahoga preglacial valley by cutting gorges with waterfalls such as those found with the Tinkers, Brandywine and Chippewa Creeks. These waterfalls form when waterflow erodes the Bedford Shale, which underlies the more resistant Berea Sandstone. Glacial drift fills the valley to a depth of 400 feet. This fill is very complex due to ponding in front of the ice before and after each glaciation. Beach deposits, gravel bars and other shoreline deposits from Lake Maumee are found in the valley, as are gravels from the time of Lake Arkona, and ridges marking the shores of Lake Whittlesey, Lake Warren, and Lake Wayne.[18][19]

A noticeable remnant of the Wisconsin glaciation is the Defiance Moraine, which trends from Defiance in western Ohio, across the state into Pennsylvania. As Cushing et al. point out, "The Defiance moraine represents the last notable stand of the glacial front in this region." The moraine varies in width from 2 to 4 miles, and according to Leverett, "it is like a broad wave whose crest stands 20 to 50 feet above the border of the plain outside it." This moraine forms a lobe that protrudes south into the valley for 8 miles all the way to Peninsula, the lobe being 6 miles wide at the north end, tapering to 3 miles wide at the south end. Kames and eskers mark the terrain south of this moraine up to the southern extent of the glaciation.[18]:581–584[19]:63–64, 96[20]

The Berea Sandstone and the Bedford Shale were deposited in a river delta environment in the Lower Mississippian. River channels were incised into the Bedford Shale and subsequently these channels were filled by the Berea Sandstone. Besides setting the stage for majestic gorges and waterfalls within the valley, they have provided an economic use as well. The Berea Sandstone was quarried in Berea for grindstones and building stones, while the lowermost part of the Bedford Shale was quarried in South Euclid and Cleveland Heights for its "bluestone".[19]:109–111[21]

The Sharon Conglomerate is a Lower Pennsylvanian formation composed of sandstone and conglomerate. It forms, according to Cushing et al., "disconnected patches or outliers that cap the highest hills... these outliers stand boldly above the surrounding country" due to its resistance to erosion. The Boston Ledges are the most noteworthy example. As the Mississippian shale underneath is washed away, huge blocks of the Sharon result from the settling. As Cushing et al. explain, "frost action aids in pushing these blocks apart, cracks are widened into caves, and a tangle of blocks results, separated by passages of uneven widths."[19]:54–57

Shale gas has been produced in the area since 1883, when H.A. Mastick's well was drilled in the Rockport Township to a depth of 527 feet, yielding 21,643 cubic feet of gas daily. A gas boom occurred in 1914/1915, and by 1931, several hundred gas wells were producing from the Devonian Huron shale. Production came from shales 1,250 feet thick at depths from 400 to 1,840 feet. Pressures were 3 to 135 psi flowing less than 20,000 cubic feet of gas daily, but was sufficient to furnish light for a house or two, and sometimes heat. As Cushing et al. pointed out in the 1930s, "there are vast amounts of petroleum in the Devonian shales." Since then, the Marcellus Shale and the deeper Utica Shale have shown their economic potential.[19]:115–116, 123

Visitor centers[edit]

Points of historic interest[edit]


National Register of Historic Places[edit]

Many of the listed homes are in private ownership.[36]


 This article incorporates public domain material from the National Park Service document "".

  1. ^ a b "National Reports". National Park Service. Retrieved 5 May 2017. Click on Park Acreage Reports (1997 – Last Calendar/Fiscal Year), then select By Park, Calendar Year, <choose year>, and then click the View PDF Report button – the area used here is Gross Area Acres which appears in the final column of the report
  2. ^ "NPS Annual Recreation Visits Report". National Park Service. Retrieved 2018-02-23.
  3. ^ "Mammals - Cuyahoga Valley National Park (U.S. National Park Service)".
  4. ^ "Krejci Dump: A Story of Transformation" Archived 2014-04-26 at the Wayback Machine. National Park Service, Cuyahoga Valley
  5. ^ Johnson, Jim: "Generators pay for industrial cleanup"[permanent dead link] Waste Recycling News, May 13, 2002
  6. ^ "Krejci Dump Site Cleanup and Restoration" National Park Service, July 1, 2011
  7. ^ "Cuyahoga Valley National Park – Frequently Asked Questions (U.S. National Park Service)". Retrieved 2012-05-06.
  8. ^ Rep. Ralph Regula [R-OH16, 1973-2009]. "summary of HR 4578". Retrieved 2012-05-06.
  9. ^ "Winter Sports". National Park Service. Retrieved 27 May 2014.
  10. ^ "CVSR". Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.
  11. ^ a b c "Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail". National Park Service, United States Department of the Interior.
  12. ^ "Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail Tour – Sites to Visit". National Park Service, United States Department of the Interior.
  13. ^ "Ohio & Erie Canal – Towpath Trail Tour". National Park Service, United States Department of the Interior.
  14. ^ "". Retrieved 2012-05-06.
  15. ^ "Cuyahoga Valley National Park". 2012-04-17. Retrieved 2012-05-06.
  16. ^ "Cuyahoga Valley National Park – Stanford House". Day in the Valley.
  17. ^ a b "Station Road Bridge". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved 2009-05-03.
  18. ^ a b Leverett, Frank (1902). Glacial Formations and Drainage Features of the Erie and Ohio Basins, USGS Monograph Vol. XLI. Washington: US Government Printing Office. p. 216.
  19. ^ a b c d e Cushing, H.P.; Leverett, Frank; Van Horn, Frank (1931). Geology and Mineral Resources of the Cleveland District, Ohio, USGS Bulletin 818. Washington: US Government Printing Office. pp. 9, 16–19, 68–79.
  20. ^ Swinford, Edward; Pavey, Richard; Larsen, Glenn (2006). Soller, ed. New Map of the Surficial Geology of the Lorain and Put-in-Bay 30 x 60 Minute Quadrangles, Ohio, in Digital Mapping Techniques '06- Workshop Proceedings. Columbus: USGS Open-File Report 2007-1285 2007. p. 178.
  21. ^ Pepper, James; De Witt, Wallace; Demarest, David (1954). Geology of the Bedford Shale and Berea Sandstone in the Appalachian Basin, USGS Professional Paper 259. Washington: US Government Printing Office. pp. 12, 70–71.
  22. ^ "Cuyahoga Valley National Park - Visitor Centers". National Park Service, United States Department of the Interior.
  23. ^ "Cuyahoga Valley National Park - Canal Visitor Center". National Park Service, United States Department of the Interior.
  24. ^ "Cuyahoga Valley National Park - Ohio and Erie Canal". National Park Service, United States Department of the Interior.
  25. ^ "Cuyahoga Valley National Park - Interactive Tow-Path Tour". National Park Service, United States Department of the Interior.
  26. ^ "Cuyahoga Valley National Park - Frazee House". National Park Service, United States Department of the Interior.
  27. ^ "Cuyahoga Valley National Park - Boston Store". National Park Service, United States Department of the Interior.
  28. ^ "Cuyahoga Valley National Park - Everett Road Covered Bridge". National Park Service, United States Department of the Interior.
  29. ^ "Cuyahoga Valley National Park - Brandywine Village". National Park Service, United States Department of the Interior. Archived from the original on 2008-06-09.
  30. ^ "Happy Days Visitor Center". National Park Service, United States Department of the Interior.
  31. ^ "Cuyahoga Valley National Park - Virginia Kendall Unit map". National Park Service, United States Department of the Interior.
  32. ^ "The George Stanford House". National Park Service, United States Department of the Interior.
  33. ^ "National Register of Historic Places - Cuyahoga Valley National Park". National Park Service, United States Department of the Interior.
  34. ^ "Hale Farm and Village". Western Reserve Historical Society. Archived from the original on 2003-04-10.
  35. ^ "Points of Historic Interest". National Park Service, United States Department of the Interior.
  36. ^ "National Register of Historic Places - Cuyahoga Valley National Park". National Park Service, United States Department of the Interior.
  37. ^ "Brecksville-Northfield High Level Bridge". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved 2009-05-03.
  38. ^ "Tinkers Creek Aqueduct". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved 2009-05-03.

General references[edit]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Cuyahoga Valley Trails Council (2007). The Trail Guide to Cuyahoga Valley National Park, 3rd Edition, OH: Gray & Company, Publishers. ISBN 978-1-59851-040-9

External links[edit]

Map all coordinates using: OpenStreetMap 
Download coordinates as: KML · GPX