is an American Indian (Mohawk) name for crooked. Pronounced Ki-a-Ho-Ga. It aptly describes the 100 mile long, twisting, turning Cuyahoga River for which the valley is named. The Cuyahoga Valley National Park was established in 2000. The 20,300 plus acre park encompasses the land along the Cuyahoga River from Akron to Cleveland, Ohio. The landscape has rolling vistas, thick forests, meadow land and waterfalls. It also includes a 20 mile stretch of the Ohio & Erie Towpath making this a great place for hiking, biking and walking.
We spent two days here and we barely scratched the surface of what all this park has to offer.
With the arrival of the Ohio & Erie Canal in 1827, many opportunities for commerce & industry came to Boston, est.1806. Numerous boat builders & canal boatmen lived in Boston. The town grew. With growth came a broom factory, brewery, grist mill & saw mill, a brickyard & several stores. With the canal’s decline in the 1860’s, the town slumbered. In 1880 with the arrival of the Valley Railway, Boston boomed anew. That too eventually declined. Today only a few buildings & homes still exist.
Thursday morning we parked at the Boston Store Visitor Center and picked up a Stanford Trail/Brandywine Falls Trail map. Then Don donned the backpack and leashed Tucker while I grabbed my cameras and off we went, a quarter mile down the towpath until we reached the Stanford Trail trailhead. The Stanford is a 1.7 mile hike, rated moderate to difficult that connects to the 1.1 mile Brandywine Gorge Trail, also rated moderate to difficult. One wouldn’t think that 2.8 miles would be all that hard, right? Well it is if most of the trekking is over steep slopes and rough ground. Our goal was to reach the falls but regrettably we fell just short of seeing them. More truthfully, I should say that I fell short. After hiking the entire path, I looked up at all those wooden steps leading upward toward the falls, with my knees screaming and my heart thumping mightily in my chest, I said to Don, “I can’t do it.” Not with knowing I had to make the return trip too. So after a short rest and water break, we made our way back. Still, we did get in a good workout and it was such a lovely Fall day for it.
Much of the trail was through woods but a small portion took us past the Stanford House which the national park now uses as a visitors lodge & open land beyond the historic lodge.
My photos of the trail don’t adequately reflect the terrain. It’s difficult to capture the steep inclines in a wooded area. The following photos gives you a better idea of the rugged slopes. First one is of the path, many spots were treacherous due to exposed tree roots. The second photo is of the Boston Ski Resort. These slopes are everywhere.
These road signs are posted throughout Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
Back at the Boston Store, we ate the lunch I packed, boots off, flexing our toes. Somewhat refreshed, I suggested to Don that we make the short hike to Blue Hen Falls. The falls are a favorite with park visitors. They’re certainly not very tall, nor very wide, but they were pretty. We sat on a bench, the only two people there, and took in the cool, relaxing, peacefulness of our surroundings. A perfect ending to our day.
Friday morning breakfast, Don asks if I’d like to go back to Cuyahoga Valley to walk the Ohio & Erie Towpath. Of course! But first, I tell him, we are going to see Brandywine Falls. This time though, we’ll take the easy way. We drove to the parking lot by the Inn at Brandywine Falls and walked over. Brandywine Falls is a popular wedding ceremony site. It’s easy to see why. The 65 foot falls cascade gracefully over multi-tiered ledges to pool below before flowing out into the river beyond.
From the falls we return to the Visitor Center to park. We decide to walk the towpath from the Boston Store to the Peninsula Depot, 4.8 miles round trip. It’s another perfect Autumn day. Moderate temps, gorgeous blue skies and an abundance of sunshine. The historic towpath is the heart of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. It is the same route that mules once walked to tow canal boats from the Ohio River to Lake Erie and back.
Our walk along the canal begins in Boston.
Views of the Ohio & Erie Canal today.
Views of the Cuyahoga River from the towpath.
Using design specifications from the Erie Canal, construction on the Ohio & Erie Canal began in 1825. It took two years of hand digging throughout the state of Ohio from Cincinnati to Cleveland before the canal was completed. This passageway allowed for farmers to transport their produce from one city to the other in about 80 hours, where once it had taken weeks to do. This success allowed for other goods and travelers to be transported quickly too.
A section of the towpath is a boardwalk that runs through a wide area known as Stumpy Basin. The basin allowed boats to turn around, stop over, or put into storage for the winter.
Hand cut sandstone blocks were used to build the locks. When a mason crew finished a stone & it was ready for shipment, a symbol would usually be carved into the block. The marks aided the foreman in keeping track of the quality & amount of work each crew completed. The marks were symbols similar to brands that a rancher might use. Here masons used Roman numerals.
In 1913, a flood damaged the canal. The cost to repair the damage was too expensive, the locks, the path and the canal fell to ruins. Then in the 70’s, local citizens, realizing the historic significance of the area led a campaign to preserve the towpath. Today it provides recreation for locals living in the nearby urban areas.
You know, when you see this along the towpath…………..
this can’t be far behind.
Our walk took us from Boston to Peninsula along the towpath, then back again.
Here’s lookin’ at you kid…………………………