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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.
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 Pass + Other National Park Deals
- If you’re planning on visiting multiple parks (3 or more) on this trip or within the year, I would highly recommend getting a national park pass. It’s $80 but will pay for itself in about three trips to parks. It’s so worth it and I buy one every year! They’re also great for gifts for the park lovers in your life.
- To help plan the best national park trip ever, this Ultimate National Park Planning Bundle is perfect! You get two ebooks and a planner, saving 50% by getting them as a bundle! If you want all the details, this is the bundle for you. Buy the Ultimate bundle here.
- This National Park Planner (one of the ebooks from the bundle above) is perfect if you just want some guidance in your planning. Buy the planner here.
- Get yourself a little National Park notebook to write all about your adventures while you’re on the road. These from Field Notes are all very cute! If you want one for all of the NPS sites (400+!) then this one is for you!
- Before your trip, get some national park apparel for your trip! Homage is donating 5% of sales from the national park collection to the National Parks Conservation Association this year. Buy national park shirts here.
- Consider reading some of these books set in national parks before your big trip, on your adventure, or once you get home to take you back to the parks until next time.
- Planning a big national park trip? Check out these other posts: National Park bucket list, Make the most of a National Park trip, National Park camping packing list, My favorite National Park hikes, More National Park hikes I love, Underrated National Parks.
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.
What to bring on the Ledges Trail
Light Jacket – Because you just never know. Weather can change quickly depending on where you are and if you’ll be in any slot canyons, they can get cool depending on the time of day and season. I usually use my rain jacket for this.
Cozy Sweatshirt – It can be a little cool here in the fall since it’s pretty shady but temperatures can change easily. I have a few different Patagonia sweatshirts and love them all. They’re great for layering in cold weather. I have two Re-tools, a Better Sweater, and a Synchilla. Sometimes you can find them on sale on REI or Backcountry. I also like to keep an eye out for them on Poshmark (use code REDAROUNDWORLD for $10 off your first purchase) and Mercari (you can save $10 with that link as well!) I’ve found some really good deals on both.
Is the Ledges trail 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.
Have you hiked the Ledges trail in Cuyahoga? What did you think of it? What is your favorite hike there?