But it’s one thing to get lost in peaceful thought. It’s quite another to find that you’ve passed the same tree for the third time. To aid the former and avoid the latter, the Cuyahoga Valley Trails Council has assembled a third edition ofTrail Guide: Cuyahoga Valley National Park (Gray & Co., $15.95). It is required reading for anyone thinking about lacing up a pair of hiking boots and keeping it local.
It’s been more than a decade since the release of the last guide to the trails that wind through the 33,000 acres of parkland straddling the Cuyahoga and Summit county line. An update was in order. Some paths have been rerouted, and new ones have been blazed.
Topping 250 pages, the book details every trail that falls within the national park’s borders (including ones that are maintained by other park systems such as the Cleveland Metroparks) and is packed with maps, photographs of significant landmarks and a handy index. We used it to get lost ourselves. Here were a few of our favorite finds from the book:
|Trail||Ledges Trail||Buckeye Trail: Jaite to Boston||Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail: Station Road Bridge to Red Lock|
|Route||Begins at the Ledges Shelter parking lot in Peninsula and winds around the base of Ritchie Ledges.||Starts in Brecksville and winds south to Boston village. A couple-mile walk on the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath gets you back.||Starts at the Station Road bridge along Riverview Road and travels south along the Towpath Trail.|
|Geography||Huge, weathered but solid rocks define this trail, which has an elevation change of 105 feet.||Hilly, with an elevation change of 250 feet.||Flat with great views of the Cuyahoga River and what’s left of the Ohio & Erie Canal.|
|Stats||2.2 miles, 1.5 hours||5.6 miles (Jaite to Boston), 3 hours||2.5 miles, 1.25 hours|
|Signs of Seclusion||Ice Box Cave allows visitors to wander 50 feet deep into one of the monster rocks.||Thick stands of trees make you forget you’re still a short hike from I-271.||About midway, the Old Carriage Trail joins from the left, offering a quiet detour that climbs above the valley and crosses four bridges|
|Signs of Civilation||Take the wider road that enters at the northernmost point in the loop, and you’ll end up at Happy Days Visitor Center.||A tiny shop in Boston where you can pick up an old-school Coke in one of those little glass bottles (at today’s prices, of course).||Bikers, runners, dog walkers are everywhere on the Towpath. Plus, the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad stops at Station Road.|
|Why We Love It||The Ledges Overlook alone is worth the trip. Go in the fall. Bring a camera.||It’s a lesser traveled path with plenty of chances to spot wildlife and rest at scenic Blue Hen Falls.||
Plenty of trees offer a shaded walk, and the remains of Lock 39 are just plain cool.