Get Lost In A Fairytale In The Cuyahoga Valley National Park Ledges Trail

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You guys. This is for real one of the coolest national park hikes I’ve done so far. It literally felt like I was walking into a fairytale. But no, it’s just the Ledges trail at Cuyahoga Valley National Park begging to be added to your national park bucket list.

But really, especially in the beginning of the trail, I was just expecting to see the candy hut from Hansel and Gretel to appear around a corner and an evil witch to walk up behind me. Unfortunately that didn’t happen but what an adventure it would have been!

Instead I just got to do an extremely cool hike. Before we started this one my feelings about Cuyahoga were pretty neutral, maybe even a little negative but the Ledges trail blew me away and totally changed my opinion of the park.

It’s still lower on my list of parks I’ve been to but it’s certainly not last (sorry, Indiana Dunes.) This is such a cool trail and it’s pretty easy, especially compared to the Blue Hen Falls trail.

We started out walking through the evil witch woods with no one else around. Not even the evil witch I think lives there. Not too far in we found ourselves walking along the top of the ledges and their glowing mossy rock formations.

It was kind of like looking down at short straight green slot canyons, which was pretty cool. Not at all like the glowing golden slot canyons of Utah, but glowing green slot canyons of Ohio.

Before we knew it we were at the bottom that we were just looking down at and this is where it really gets good.

The main trail just goes in front of all the rocky stuff but you can go off and walk around in this mossy otherworld.

We spent some time down here (quite a bit) taking pictures and admiring mushrooms before we got to a very poorly labeled fork in the trail that did not match up with the paper map we had (in my head they didn’t make sense, but I’m not good with maps.)

We went right which was taking us to Happy Days, whatever that was. We saw another couple on their way out and they said there was a little cemetery that way so we kept going. This is sounding a little like a horror movie in the making right here. Don’t worry, it’s not.

Eventually we got to said cemetery right by some kind of building. So this was Happy Days. On our way to find the trail I found a cute little frog so I obviously had to stop and talk to it and take it’s picture.

At the top of Happy Days there is a building, a field, and the cemetery. What there is not is a sign to the rest of the trail.

We decided to check out the other side of the field and found a trail there so we followed it. It was the right one but it was also not marked.

This was bad foreshadowing of a lot of the trails in North Carolina. We made our way back down to the Ledges trail and instead of continuing on the rest of it we headed out to stop at Brandywine Falls on our way out. We had a longish drive to West Virginia that afternoon.

Overall I was incredibly impressed with the Ledges trail and would absolutely 100% recommend it to anyone visiting Cuyahoga Valley and if you only have time for one hike, it should definitely be this one.

AND another thing that makes this one so much better than Blue Hen Falls is that you don’t have that interstate traffic. There is some noise at Happy Days but once you’re back on the trail that’s gone.

The lack of traffic noise here makes you feel like you’re more in the middle of nowhere than you really are and I love it! I would love to explore this area of the park more, for sure.

National Park Goodies


Where can you find the Cuyahoga Valley National Park Ledges?

The Ledges Trailhead is on the southeast side of Cuyahoga Valley National Park. It’s about 35 minutes from Cleveland, 25 minutes from Independence, and 20 minutes from Akron.

It’s just a ten minute drive from the Boston Mill Visitor Center and Blue Hen Falls. You could easily do both in one day.

How long is the Ledges trail?

If you just do the Ledges trail, it’s about 1.8 miles round-trip. If you add in Happy Days it adds about 0.5 miles (as far as I can tell.)

I would say maybe closer to two if you just do the Ledges but wander around the formations a bit. 2.5ish total if you do all of the Ledges trail and add in Happy Days.


Is the Ledges Trail hard?

Not really. It has about 230 feet of elevation gain so it’s pretty easy. The trail can be a little uneven and rocky but it’s much easier than Blue Hen Falls. The Happy Days section was a little steeper but that wasn’t too bad either.


Ledges Trail to Happy Days

I believe if you hike from the Ledges trail to Happy Days you do this on the Haskell Run trail. It should add about half a mile to your hike.

We just hiked along the main part of the Ledges trail then up to Happy Days instead of the whole Ledges trail.

I thought this was a nice little detour from the main trail. It wasn’t like, a must-do but if you have time it’s a nice addition.

Or you could do what we did and just do the main part of the Ledges trail then up to Happy Days.


How long do you need for the Ledges trail?

I would plan 2-3 hours for this area. It’s easy to get lost in the excitement of wandering through the rock formations. You’ll need a little more time if you go to Happy Days in addition to the whole Ledges trail, too.

There are a few other trails trails in the Ledges area so you could spend a few hours or most of the day here if you really want to.

This whole area just felt really peaceful (aside from the Happy Days building) since it’s a little further from the main roads through the park, which there are a lot of.


The best time to hike the Ledges trail

The middle of the day will probably be the best for that dreamy lighting if you want to get great pictures but any time of day would be great just to enjoy it.

As for time of year, fall was amazing with the yellow trees but I would imagine summer is great too if you want everything green.

Spring and winter may not be as green, especially the trees but it would still be cool to see. If you want peak appearance, summer and fall are best.


Is seeing the Cuyahoga Valley National Park Ledges worth it?

YES YES YES! This is one of my favorite national park hikes now, FOR SURE. This literally felt like we were walking into a fairytale and I loved it so much! If you can only do one thing in Cuyahoga, this should absolutely be it.


What to bring to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park Ledges

Hiking poles – These will be helpful on longer hikes that are on the steeper side.  They’ll be good if you have bad knees for when you’re going downhill and will give you something to lean on going up the hills.

Water bottle – It’ll be hot and you’ll need to stay hydrated.  Even if it’s not hot you need to stay hydrated.  A Hydro Flask will keep your water ice cold all day long.

Sunscreen – If you plan on being outside, you’ll want sunscreen.  I like the Hawaiian Tropic Sheer Touch a lot AND it’s reef safe! If you’re sensitive to fragrance though, it’s not a good choice. I also like the same one but specifically for your face.

Hat – You’ll want some kind of hat to keep the sun out of your eyes, or a visor.  A baseball hat should be fine but I like my giant sun hat, too.

Sunglasses – This is a must no matter where you are.

Light Jacket – Because you just never know.  Weather can change quickly depending on where you are, time of day, and season.  I usually use my rain jacket for this.

Headlamp – I tend to carry my headlamp around all the time when we’re hiking, just in case. 


Where to stay near Cuyahoga Valley

Sheraton Suites – This is a great option in Cuyahoga Falls (near Akron) with a view of the Cuyahoga River. They also have a restaurant on site.

Comfort Inn – This is where we stayed and I liked it. I’d stay again. It’s a nice but not fancy option at the north end of the park with plenty of restaurants nearby.

Candlewood Suites – This is a nicer option in Independence and the rooms have kitchenettes if you want to make your own food instead of eat out. And it’s close to the Interstate.

Residence Inn – This is another nice Akron area choice (Fairlawn) and also has a kitchen in the rooms if you want to be more self-sufficient.


Camping in Cuyahoga Valley

There is no camping of any kind (including backcountry) in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. But there are campgrounds nearby. Here are a few:

  • Punderson State Park
  • Heritage Farms
  • Valley Overlook
  • Silver Springs
  • Willow Lake Park
  • West Branch State Park
  • Findley State Park

Have you hiked to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park Ledges? What did you think of it? What is your favorite hike there?

8 thoughts on “Get Lost In A Fairytale In The Cuyahoga Valley National Park Ledges Trail

  1. My boyfriend and I just hiked this trail and absolutely loved it! We read your article before hiking it and agree with everything you said; this hike MAKES Cuyahoga Valley National Park. We’re traveling for a couple weeks and this hike was thus far a major highlight. Thanks for your article, I’m so glad I found your website! Happy travels!

    1. Aww, thank you! This is such a magical trail, I’m so glad you enjoyed it, too! Enjoy your trip! 😀

  2. We live approximately 2.5 hours from this gorgeous park and discovered Ledges Trail about 6 years ago. My husband and I go at least twice a year and Love it so much. I always leave there feeling more “grounded” and refreshed.
    Cuyahoga Valley offers a few other very nice trails as well and we continue to explore some of the lesser popular trails; however a hike through Ledges is always on our list.

    1. It’s such a magical trail! That’s awesome you get to go so often. What are some others you love? (If you’re willing to share, totally understand if not!)

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