Saturday morning my husband, Brennan, and I got on a plane, and flew to Dayton, Ohio. Why? To buy a truck and drive it home. Which probably seems pretty ridiculous to most of you, but, it’s not the first time we’ve done this. Haha. He loves trucks. Last week, he was the unfortunate victim of a pretty serious accident (he is okay), but his truck got totaled. A truck he loooooved. So obviously we had to get a new one. And the one he wanted was in Indiana. So we flew to Ohio, met with the guy selling the truck, and bought it.
What the heck does this have to do with Cuyahoga Valley National Park?
Since we were already in Ohio, we may as well make a stop at the National Park, right?
So we drove the two and half hours from Dayton up to Brecksville to check it out. The day before it was about 70 degree in Ohio. Today, it was about 38 and snowing on and off with 30mph winds. Of course. Lucky for us, it wasn’t very windy, and didn’t start snowing until the last bit of our hike!
Cuyahoga Valley National Park is a little different than any of previous the National Parks I’ve been to. More than just nature, and hiking, there is an entire small historic canal village, Peninsula. Stop at the Canal Visitor Center for demonstrations on operating canal locks or the Boston Store to see the museum devoted to the history of canal boat building! You can take a scenic train ride, camp, and of course there are many hiking and biking trails for all ages.
Unfortunately we didn’t have enough time to see everything the park has to offer. We decided to hike out to the 60ft Brandywine Falls. About a 4 or so mile loop. The hike started on the Towpath trail, which actually continues for over 100 miles outside of the park. The towpath trail follows the Ohio & Erie Canalway where you will walk past a few old canal locks. This trail is very flat, making it extremely family-friendly, and perfect for novice hikers and bikers.
After following the Towpath Trail for a little bit, we cut across to the entrance of the Stanford Trail. It’s kind of hard to find, but if you follow the signs for the Stanford house, you walk straight back past the house, between the large barn and you’ll see the trail marker next to a stone building housing some firewood.
We followed the Stanford Trail all the way to the Brandywine Falls, a cascading 67 ft. waterfall into a lush gorge. A gorgeous trail leads you through the woods and along side the Brandywine Creek. There are a few relatively steep sections, some stairs built into the trail and quite a few small foot bridges along the way.
Once you get to the falls there are a series of wooden boardwalks built into the rocks leading to upper & lower viewpoints. The falls were rushing that day, but apparently, when there is less water flowing, you can actually make your way to the base of the waterfall for a little dip!
Brandywine falls were once a power source to a thriving town with a sawmill built by George Wallace, a whiskey distillery, gristmill, woolen mill and a dozen houses. George transferred his property to his sons, who started the Wallace Brothers Company and ran the town. The town of Brandywine thrived for about 30 years. Eventually the prosperity came to an end as the Ohio and Erie Canal (and later the railroads as well) starting shipping goods to larger cities, like Cleveland and Akron. The town of Brandywine got left behind. All that is left are a few old, hidden foundations and the barn and house built by James Wallace in 1848, which has been restored as the Inn at Brandywine Falls. It's a little sad to think about these old hopping towns just falling into nothing. BUT. On the plus side, we got left with a super neat park to explore. :-)
We followed the Brandywine Gorge Trail back, which walks along the top of the cliffs along the opposite side of the creek. Ending with a long foot bridge crossing back over to the Stanford Trail.
Just as we crossed the bridge it started snowing. And getting dark. But it certainly didn't hinder our experience here. Hey, our first date was actually a hike in the snow. ;-)
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