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Welcome back! Today we have another Things to do that aren’t hiking in the parks post. This time were going to Cuyahoga Valley in good ol’ Ohio.
While this park didn’t blow me out of the water (except the Ledges, that I loved) there are still tons of great things to do in Cuyahoga Valley National Park that aren’t hiking.
If you’re a hiker or not, there will be plenty to do here to keep you busy. This is a list full of fun things to do at Cuyahoga Valley that aren’t hiking, so you’ll find biking, water activities, short walks, historic buildings, and more.
As usual, any walking involved will be considered easy by the park website with minimal elevation gain and under one mile round trip.
National Park Goodies
- If you’re planning to visit three or more national parks within a year from your trip, definitely get the America the Beautiful pass. It will save you money in the long run if you’re going to more than three parks in a year. Buy the pass here.
- If you’re planning on doing a lot of hiking on your trip, or even at home, check out AllTrails! This is my favorite app to find, keep track of, and track my hiking activity. And it’s FREE! Sign up here.
- This Ultimate National Park Planning Bundle is a must-have. 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!
- 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.
Ride the train
This is a must-do in Cuyahoga. I mean, how many national parks have trains in them? None that I can think of ,or know of, but please let me know in the comments if there are others!
This is a 2.5 hour trip through the park that will let you see it from a new perspective and is a good way to look for wildlife. It’s $15-28 per adult depending on where you sit.
Someday I’d like to do this, it’s definitely a national park bucket list topper and one of the best things to do in Cuyahoga whether you’re hiking or not.
See Brandywine Falls
The whole Brandywine Gorge Loop Trail is 1.4 miles and is hilly and rocky with about 190 feet of elevation change and lots of stairs. But there is also a boardwalk spur off to an overlook that you can walk to easily.
The view isn’t super close but you can still see the falls and it’s a short walk. This is a nice, quick stop to see one of the more iconic park locations. This is definitely one of the top things to do in Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
Paddle the Cuyahoga River
This is only something I would recommend if you are familiar with kayaking and have experience. You don’t need to be a pro, I don’t think, but it’s not something maintained by the park service.
You need to bring your own equipment, they don’t rent it out. You can find all the (not so fun) details here. This is perfect if you’re looking for something a little more active that doesn’t involve your feet.
Do some Questing
This is a little bit like Geocaching but without the GPS and trinkets. Instead, you collect stamps! Along the Ohio and Erie Canalway you can find more than 40 of these Quests between April 15 and November 15.
This sounds like a fun and easy way to see some of the park in a new way and it’s a great option for families visiting the park.
See the Happy Days Lodge
This is a former youth camp and park visitor center turned wedding venue. While I’m not sure you can just walk into the building, it’s a nice place to see.
You can see the old cemetery here and enjoy lunch in the field next to the lodge, as long as there isn’t an event going on.
If you are hiking, you can also get here from the Ledges trail. The hike up here is a steep hill. The lodge is on State Route 303, about two miles east of Peninsula and about 0.5 miles west of State Route 8 in Boston Heights.
Do some horseback riding
The only downside of horseback riding here is that there are not rental places so you have to bring horses in. You can’t ride them on any trail, only the ones marked as horse trails but there are plenty of those.
They vary in length from 0.75 miles to 11 miles. There are seven of these trails in the park and three nearby.
Stop at a Farmers Market
If you’re visiting on a Saturday and free at 9 AM and love farmers markets, make sure to visit one here! You can buy produce from local farmers here while experiencing a bit of local life.
This may not be your typical national park activity but it is a unique thing to do in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. If we were there in the right season next time, I’d stop for sure.
Visit the Boston Mill Visitor Center
This is a must-do on any trip to Cuyahoga even if it’s just to check out the outside of the building. The building itself is a rehabilitated 1905 Cleveland-Akron Bag Company general store where you can learn all about the park and how it came to be.
There are a couple of other fun buildings here, too. This is also the only visitor center I’ve taken a picture of because it’s so cute. Plus, if you are hiking here, it’s where you park for the Blue Hen Falls trail.
Spend a night at Stanford House
The Stanford House is not too far from the Boston Mill visitor center. It’s just steps from the Towpath Trail and a short hike to Brandywine Falls. It’s a historic farmhouse that was settled in 1806.
Now you can rent the house out for meetings, events, or just to spend the night. You can find out about renting it here. If you just want to see it, you can do that, too.
I don’t know if you can walk through it during the day or if you can only go in if you’re staying there. Either way, the outside is still worth seeing.
Bike the Towpath Trail
The Towpath Trail is over 85 miles long. While you can bike the whole thing, just doing part of it on a short visit it more likely. The Beaver Marsh parking area is a good spot to access the path by foot or bike.
We saw tons of people biking along here and it seems like a great way to see the park. You can rent bikes from Eddie’s or Century Cycles if you don’t have your own bike with you.
Do some Geocaching
While this isn’t technically in the park, there are tons of Geocaches around the park. It helps that it’s in a more urban location but this is a fun way to get to know the general area, too, and doesn’t always involve a lot of hiking.
Walk to the Beaver Marsh Boardwalk
This is a nice short, flat walk to a marsh that will make you feel like you walked from Ohio to Florida. It’s 0.5 miles round-trip from the parking lot to the marsh along the Towpath bike trail. Most of the trail is paved but the section at the marsh is boardwalk.
This is a great place to end your day and watch the sunset while looking for birds or other wildlife. It wasn’t my favorite spot but it was just gray when we saw it so that didn’t help but it is still interesting!
Have you been to Cuyahoga Valley National Park? What did you think of it? What is your favorite thing to do there? Do you want to go?