The National Park system has been called “America’s best idea”. It preserves our country’s most amazing places for all to enjoy. Brian, wanting to visit some, pitched a survey to the club with the choice of three parks. He then quickly disregarded the results and decided he would lead trips to all of them. First up: Cuyahoga Valley. The closest actual National Park, it includes over 125 miles of hiking trails, exposed rock walls, waterfalls, and basically all of the things the adventure club loves. At noon on Friday, four of us (Brian, Kerry, Frank and David) packed up and headed to Ohio.
That afternoon we did a quick hike on the Buckeye trail to Blue Hen Falls, using the last hours of sunlight to get a jump start on our park exploration. From there we went to our couchsurfing hosts’ house just minutes from the park entrance. Brett, Jess, and Conrad were perfect hosts, giving us two couches and floor space, hiking advice, free reign of their kitchen, and great conversation. To keep our budget low, we bought groceries and cooked our own meals at the house while getting to know the family.
Saturday morning we headed out early and visited as many areas as we could. Highlights included Brandywine Falls, a hike along the defunct Ohio and Erie canal, an amazing hike at the Ledges, bird watching at Beaver Marsh, seeing the Everett Road covered bridge, a hike at Oak Hill, and another final visit to the iconic Brandywine Falls. Worn out and hungry, we returned home. David cooked an awesome salad and pasta dinner for everyone. From there we took the party outside for a bonfire with popcorn and s’mores.
Sunday morning, Kerry, Brett, and David went on a five mile trail run. After packing our things, we headed out for a final round of exploring. We hit Deer Lick Cave, Tinker Creek Gorge, and Bridal Veil Falls. Finally satisfied, we headed home.
The park was an interesting mix of diverse landscapes and history. It was cool to see the many natural places that had been restored from once polluted wastelands such as the Beaver Marsh (once an automobile dump) and the Cuyahoga River itself (once so polluted that it literally caught on fire). It offers an optimistic view of the future of parks and preserves. Next up: Mammoth Cave National Park…
Photos taken by Kerry