Peace is always beautiful, and Cuyahoga Valley National Park was just that. Cuyahoga was our first National Park we traveled to and we were absolutely amazed. It’s crazy to think that all the falls and these trails are only an hour and a half away from Pittsburgh. The park is a fortress for flowers and wildlife, and provides many journeys for visitors. The 84.9 miles Cuyahoga River gives way to deep forests, rolling hills, and open farmlands. We took many paths this trip, which led to three very dissimilar waterfalls.
When we first got the the park, it was already stunning. Just the drive will be worth the trip due to the beauty on the back roads. Our first stop was to the Brandywine Falls. We decided to go here first since this was the most popular of all the waterfalls we were going to visit this day. It actually was the best idea since there wasn’t anyone in the main overlook, which was about 9am when we got there. After a few hours we did realize there was a lot more traffic. Brandywine falls is a beautiful 65-foot waterfall. Once you’ve taken your time to appreciate and enjoy the falls, work your way around a scenic trail that highlights some of Cuyahoga’s other scenery on the trail. We found a couple more spots to get some great shots of the falls. We even an old building from 1814, George Wallace built a saw mill at the top of the falls.
Overall viewing these falls were magical and we couldn’t wait to drive to the next falls which were only about 10 minutes away. These falls were called the Blue Hen Falls, which is still a part of the National Park. The Blue Hen Falls Trail is a short trail which leads to the falls. The trail is scenic and definitely make sure to bring your camera! The ferns are beautiful and the dainty flowers surround you on these paths. The sign says Blue Hen Falls with arrows pointing to the path. When going down the path, there is a lot of gravel so make sure to be careful. We then crossed Spring Creek and found a unique old wooden bridge. Just beyond the bridge, the Buckeye Trail splits off to the left, but to reach the Blue Hen Falls viewing area and to get to the falls closer, continue to the right along the Blue Hen Falls Trail. You will see some benches and an old wooden fence right by the falls.
We did decide to get down into the falls and to overlook the falls from the top. If you do this, make sure to wear the proper shoes due to the rocks being extremely slippery. We did have to wait for others to leave before getting the shots we took. This fall area was a bit more busy than the Brandywine falls. There were also a lot more families and kids around, which is great for the whole family. There are several trails to take down to the falls and there were signs to take extreme caution when climbing down to the falls. The falls sound so calm for how high the falls are above our heads. We were surrounded by rocks, limestone, fish, and nature. We couldn’t believe that these falls were so close to the beautiful Brandywine falls.
We didn’t think anything could top these incomparable falls, but then we traveled to The Buttermilk Falls. The Buttermilk falls were our favorite from the day, which was hard to determine due to the beauty we saw earlier in the day. There is a walking trail to the Buttermilk Falls, but the water was so low we decided to take the more difficult route and stay with walking the creek. We love to do this instead of walking the trails due to the water shots we can get. We get some of our best shots by the water and love to see what all we can find that maybe we would miss walking the trails. It was almost a mile down the creek until we found some pretty awesome old pieces of an abandoned bridge. We couldn’t find any information on the old bridge, but it was amazing to see the old stones. One you reach the large stones, you are almost there. We could hear the falls and just around a bend, we found the amazing falls. Buttermilk Falls is a roughly 20-foot high falls that cascades over a steep layered shale cliff. Supposedly it was named “Buttermilk” because the water looks white as it ripples down a multitude of shale layers.
We were the only people there for almost an hour and we couldn’t believe more people weren’t coming to this amazing area. Not only were the falls crazy beautiful but so was all of our surroundings. There was bright green moss on every surface, dripping water off leaves above us, and the wildlife running all around us. We did find a trail near the top of the falls that led to the bottom. The bottom shots were unexplainable. The light hit the water just right and the water was clear at the bottom of the falls. These falls were unquestionably the most amazing things we had found and we were so happy to have travel the route we went. We did travel back on the trails due to us wanting to go to one more stop! (I know we never stop)
Last stop on this adventure was called The Ledges. The Ritchie Ledges were only about 10 minutes away and we couldn’t help but go due seeing the pictures on the internet. Make sure to map out your journey before getting to the park due to no service at this point. There is a huge parking lot you get to at the edge of the park and huge signs about where to go. We passed a really pretty shelter to have gatherings and events at. You only walk about a mile and the path will lead to a sign which lead you right to The Ledges. If you want to actually do the trail into the ledges, please make sure you are aware of rock climbing and very slippery slopes.
We unfortunately went to the Ritchie Ledges when it started getting dark out. We couldn’t capture with our cameras how amazing and huge this place really was. The depth in the rocks, the huge pieces of rock that had broken off, and the musical echos from kids playing in the background was almost life changing. We wished to have had more time to walk the entire trail but were exhausted from all the exploring earlier in the day. We will go back in the fall to see the changes in colors and to get better shots. The main trail is very easy and flat most places.
After all the adventuring in one day, we were so hungry and couldn’t wait to eat in a close town. We found a restaurant called The Winking Lizard Tavern. This restaurant literally had everything on their menu and had outdoor seating, which is our favorite. I got a steak poppyseed salad and Bob got a steak and french fries. It was delicious and we were so satisfied with everything. It was really cool to sit outside and we were able to see the train go by with travelers on it. Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad offers excursions year-round and have many options within the train. They even have food and a first class cart! We wanted to go on it but it was already a very long day.
Overall, this trip was one of our most memorable. I say this because of how many adventures we did in one day. We got to see three unique waterfalls, and rocky scenery of The Ritchie Ledges. We would advise maybe staying a couple days to get to see everything the Cuyahoga Valley National Forest has to offer. We could have lived here it was so amazing. It was great to just be alone in the forest, hold each others hands, and see these things for the first time together. We get to see all these beautiful views but the best view is always getting to see our footage and photography at the end of the day together…