The Best Trails in Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Published by madalynstoner on

I’m often asked for the best trails in Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP). Since the park is quite vast and stretches from Cleveland all the way to Akron, there are a ton of trail options to choose from! I encourage people to try and see as much as they can since really, you can’t go wrong anywhere you go. But, I finally decided to jot down my absolute favorite trails which includes two harder and two easier hikes. I would consider these “lesser known” trails, beyond the obvious and most popular spots in the park such as Blue Hen Falls, Brandywine Falls and the Ledges.

1. Salt Run Trail

This hike is ~3.3 miles and is a loop trail. It typically takes me about two hours to complete and is considered a moderate hike. I park at the Kendall Lake Shelter. From there, you can find the beginning of the trail right by the road where you entered into the parking lot. The first part of the hike takes you back to the side of Kendall Lake. The official trail starts just inside the woods. You can either go right or left to follow this incredible loop. I usually start to the right and end the hike with the beautiful hilly overview that’s pictured above. For those who don’t want to hike the entire thing, there is a shortcut option available which you’ll find trail markers for.  

salt run trail

Why I love it. This trail boasts quite a few large, steep hills and uneven steps, making it a good challenge which can be harder to find in the park since it’s mostly flat. One minute you’ll be crossing bridges deep in the woods, and the next you’ll be staring at the rolling hills in the area. It has a little bit of everything I love in a hike, making it my top rated hike in CVNP.

2. Old Carriage Trail

old carriage trail best trails cuyahoga valley national park

This hike is ~3.5 miles and is a loop trail. In order to access this trail you will need to park at Red Lock Trailhead and hike part of the towpath before getting to the trail head. With the added towpath it makes the hike closer to 5 miles total. It typically takes me about 2.5 hours to complete and is also considered a moderate hike. This hike just became accessible again after the park demolished three existing, deteriorated trail bridges in addition to re-routing the trail and replacement of one central bridge.

Why I love it. Because this trail is accessed from the towpath, it feels more secluded than most hikes in the park, which I love. There is some signage throughout the trail highlighting the history of the area so you can learn as you hike, too! There are some steep climbs in the beginning which makes it a little more challenging than the average hike.

3. Tree Farm Trail

tree farm trail best trails cuyahoga valley national park

This hike is a 2.75 mile loop and is considered an easy, family-friendly hike. It typically takes me about 1.5 hours to complete. The hike includes the picturesque Horseshoe Pond—home to a fair amount of non-deciduous greenery, namely pine and spruce. The space earned its nickname from a former iteration as an evergreen tree farm.  

Why I love it. It’s a really fun, easy trail to take hikers of all experience levels on. It has so many wonderful features that make CVNP special (a pond, wildlife, gorgeous views).

4. Furnace Run Trail

furnace run trail best trails cuyahoga valley national park

This hike is another easy 2 mile loop and is considered a family-friendly hike. It typically takes about an hour to complete. Park at the Everett Covered Bridget lot and cross the street to start your climb up 90 zigzagging stairs. I personally think this hike is best enjoyed in the spring time when there are wildflowers growing along the path.

Why I love it. I love this area of the park because it includes one of the few remaining covered bridges left in Ohio. Part of the trail runs along the water so it’s fun to sit down by the water and soak in the sights and sounds of the park.

 There are still so many areas of the park I have to yet to explore, but when people ask me for the best hikes and trails in CVNP these are usually my go-to choices.

Do you have a favorite trail at CVNP? Let me know in the comments below!


5 Comments

Erica · February 26, 2020 at 8:45 pm

This is great! Thanks for the insights

Rachel (@running_onhappy) · February 26, 2020 at 9:08 pm

Obviously I agree with all of this! I love the trails in CVNP. I don’t run there often enough to not get lost, though, so I still need a tour guide. 🙂

Kathy · July 7, 2020 at 1:44 pm

Looking to visit at the end of the month. Any tips on places to stay?

    madalynstoner · July 14, 2020 at 5:28 pm

    Only downside of the park is it doesn’t offer tons of lodging. Your best bet would likely be an Airbnb in a town nearby. I would try Peninsula (heart of CVNP), Akron area, Hudson. I’m sure there might be some nice options and all towns are very close.

Tips for Hiking in the Winter ⋆ Helpful Tips for Hiking · February 2, 2021 at 3:08 am

[…] (see example below – she mentions the trial was icy). Not sure where to go? I shared my favorite trails in Cuyahoga Valley National Park – maybe start your trail search […]

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