Monday, February 1, 2016

Ohio Aug 2015 Cuyahoga National Park OH

When we started planning our trip west I read about the most underrated National Parks and one of them was Cuyahoga.   I knew nothing about it and since we would be going through OH we decided to visit.  However, while the park stretches from Akron to Cleveland there is no camping within the park and the campgrounds I found were either expensive or a long-ish drive.  We really didn't want to spend a long time driving there.  So, that was how we stayed at Maize Valley Winery over night and then the next day drove to the Boston Store Visitor's Center in the park and used the overflow parking lot.  We got there early enough to nab a place at the edge of the lot under the trees so Cadbury would not swelter.  We took Phoenix with us and went individually into the Visitor's Center which as small so doable in short time.

Now, a few things.  
One, having visited a fair number of National Parks we have become accustomed to excellent signage and information.  While hunting and pecking led to being able to retrieve a few items of interest I was underwhelmed with that which I found at the Boston Visitor Center which was one of the main areas in the park.
Two, while the park staff was very helpful in showing me the map of how to get to Blue Hen Falls, our first destination, we would find out they were not quite explicit enough.  
Three, we shortly determined that the main attraction to the park is the bicycle trail that runs along the canal.  Had we planned to spend a day or two riding the trail I think it would have been great. There are a number of sites scattered throughout the park but if you are not going to take a long bike ride to get to them you will need to drive or take the train that goes to each stop. However, with a dog in tow only the driving-our-own-car option was available.
Four, LOOMING overhead on huge concrete stanchions is the elevated I-80 highway and that certainly affected how we felt about the park.
Finally, five, when it has been dry for awhile and you plan to go see a waterfall it is worth ASKING if it is worth a long hike.  Ultimately, it was but because of the cool water in the pool not the glory of the falls.

The flowers were popular with like colored butterflies and a bee

Train station at Boston Mills

Walking under a major interstate highway whilst in a National Park was a new experience


So, with our handy dandy map and Phoenix on a leash, we set off.  We started walking but could not tell where to go.  This had a lot to do with a main road that we had to cross that didn't really look like one on the map and no clear signage ahead.  Luckily, we stopped and asked.  The guy who helped us had just returned and warned us that not only did we need to walk along the road for a short bit but that the sign was small, slightly obscured and easy to miss.   Forewarned, we found the turnoff with no trouble and proceeded up the path, and up and up and up.  It was great exercise and we had to stop frequently to take drinks of water.  We passed a few hikers who said "it goes back down don't worry" and we kept on.  There was another section that went along the road again but the path did go down and then relatively flat until we got to the stream and the falls.  The falls were more of a water coming-off-the-rocks-above-into-a-pool-below, but they were pretty, the water was cool, we could climb down and wade and Phoenix, who has always been resistant to even walking through mud puddles, happily went in and got soaked.  A young father came along with his 2 and 4 year old sons who were jumping off the rocks into the pool and scrambling under the falls and having a wonderful time.

 Rock at Blue Hen Falls

The lack of rain was evident in the lack of flow in the falls...

it was a virtual trickle but the pool below was cool and refreshing and Phoenix made her way into it

How little rainfall they had had was in evidence in this dried up pond on the walk to the falls

We ate our picnic lunch on the rocks and then, after some more water time, set back off to return. It was really hot and the walk tired us out so we happily got in the car with air conditioning and drove south to see if we could find the effigy mound that is not officially marked but which a ranger had told me could be found.  The road goes through residential areas and park land and is quite nice but we really felt a bike ride would have been a better option had we not had a dog.

along the path to the mound

Train station

the mound

We'd planned to find a place to park overnight and return the next day but decided that so much car travel was involved with getting to sites about which we were not excited but mildly interested that we would, instead, head west and see if we could arrive a day early at our next stop.  A quick call to determine we could and we set off west.  And now that time was a consideration we opted for I-80.  

Bad choice.

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