Brandywine Falls in Cuyahoga Valley National Park in central Ohio near Cleveland. Photography by Getty Images.
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7 hidden gems to explore in Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Just a short 30-minute drive from Case Western Reserve University awaits Ohio’s only national park—and it offers more than just its well-known attractions. Cuyahoga Valley National Park is a treasure trove of hidden gems, perfect for CWRU faculty, staff and students seeking new adventures and peaceful escapes. 

What better time to discover all it has to offer than during National Great Outdoors Month, celebrated annually in June? Whether you want to explore waterfalls, historic bridges, scenic lakes, or geological wonders, these seven lesser-known attractions offer unique and enriching experiences away from the bustle of campus life. 

1. Blue Hen Falls

Tucked away from the more crowded areas, Blue Hen Falls offers a peaceful retreat for nature lovers. This 15-foot waterfall is accessible via a moderate 0.5-mile hike from the Boston Mill Visitor Center. The trail meanders through a lush forest, providing a tranquil setting perfect for quiet reflection or a picnic. The serene sound of cascading water and the picturesque surroundings make it a favorite spot for those seeking solitude in nature.

Learn more about visiting Blue Hen Falls

2. Everett Covered Bridge

Step back in time with a visit to the Everett Covered Bridge, the only remaining covered bridge in Summit County. This charming structure, built in the 19th century, spans Furnace Run and offers a glimpse into the region’s past. The bridge is easily accessible via a short walk from the parking area and is surrounded by scenic trails. It’s an ideal spot for photography enthusiasts and history buffs alike.

Discover more about Everett Covered Bridge.

3. Kendall Lake

Kendall Lake is a lesser-known spot within the park, perfect for a quiet day of fishing, picnicking, or simply enjoying the scenery. The 1.0-mile loop trail around the lake offers gentle terrain and beautiful views of the water, especially during sunrise or sunset. Wildlife such as herons, ducks, and turtles are often seen here, making it a great location for wildlife watching and nature photography.

Explore Kendall Lake

4. The Ledges Overlook at Dusk

While the Ledges Trail is a popular hike, visiting the Ledges Overlook at dusk provides a magical experience that many miss. As the sun sets, the sky transforms into a canvas of vibrant colors, and the rock formations take on a mystical glow. It’s a perfect time for photography, meditation, or simply enjoying the beauty of the natural world in a quieter, more intimate setting.

Plan your trip to the Ledges Trail

5. Virginia Kendall Ledges and Icebox Cave

For those looking to explore geological wonders, the Virginia Kendall Ledges and Icebox Cave offer a fascinating adventure. The Ledges area features massive rock outcroppings and crevices formed by glaciers thousands of years ago. Icebox Cave, accessible via a short hike from the Ledges Shelter, stays cool even in summer, providing a refreshing retreat. While the cave itself is closed to protect bat populations, the surrounding area offers plenty to explore and admire.

Find out more about Icebox Cave

6. Beaver Marsh

A best-kept secret for wildlife enthusiasts, Beaver Marsh is a restored wetland teeming with diverse flora and fauna. Accessible via the Towpath Trail, this spot offers opportunities to see beavers, herons, turtles, and other wildlife. The boardwalk through the marsh provides excellent vantage points for photography and quiet observation. It’s a tranquil place to immerse yourself in nature and enjoy the calming presence of the wetland ecosystem.

See more about Beaver Marsh.

7. Oak Hill Trail

For a peaceful hike through lesser-trafficked areas of the park, the Oak Hill Trail offers a scenic loop through forests and meadows. This 1.8-mile trail is relatively flat and perfect for a leisurely walk or a trail run. The trail passes by remnants of old farmsteads and provides a glimpse into the agricultural history of the area. It’s a quiet escape from the busier parts of the park, ideal for those seeking solitude and a connection to the natural landscape.

Check out the Oak Hill Trail