Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Hurricane Sandy evokes memories of two of my favorite day trip destinations of Ohio - a visit to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and secondly, a road trip near the Ohio lake shore. Why this hurricane reminded me of these trips was because just last week I was out in the sun and woods taking photographs of amazing beauty that the fall season befalls earth at this time of year and now everything is gone, it's all destruction and wrath from mother nature around us, telling us how tiny are we in front of her. And this hurricane reminds me of the ohio lakeshore road trip because that day (while nothing similar to what we have today) was rainy and stormy in lake Erie and it looked terrifying. The images just bring back that day to me, when wind hit me very hard on face and it took at least 2 hours for me to get back to the body temperature. So, here I am writing about the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, which gives me some nice warm autumn days to look back into. 

Cuyahoga  Valley National Park (CVNP) has one best trait and that is it's location. It is situated very close to Cleveland, just right outside the city limits. This brings a lot of population to the park and provides a muh needed respite from the hustle-bustle of the city. For the visiters who want to stay back and relax in the woods, there are some very nice inns also in the middle of the national park. 
The park contains it's usual trails, waterfalls and some amazing landscapes. We never really walked along the trails, but have driven around a lot and the park has parking lots right next to the water falls, so mostly people end up driving to the spot and coming back. Our first time to CVNP was in January 2012 and no one was there, so it was a lot quieter and nicer to photograph, but also there wasn't much color there. However, a big difference was the amount of water flowing through the falls, it almost doubles up in winter than fall. 
Our first stop was at the most famous brandywine falls in Sagamore township of CVNP. A half mile trail leads to the falls and has a great viewing deck to see the falls. The falls is easily accessible to everyone and is one of the biggest falls in the area. I visited only 3 falls and I believe there was at least one more which was unaccessible to us owing to heavy rains in the area a day before, making it very slippery and hazardous to walk for. 

   
Photos from top - entrance to the falls viewing area, the falls viewing area and a panorama of the falls, as seen in winter season

 
  
 
Photos from top - the parking lot of the falls and various views of the falls, as
seen in the fall season. 
  
Photos comparing the same location near the bridal falls in winter and fall season. 

During our first time at the CVNP, we also visited the Bridal Veil falls located about 10 miles away from the Brandywine falls. Bridal Veil falls is more closer to the city and falls a little outside the actual limits of the CVNP, however that's no reason not to visit it. The falls can be reached following a half mile walk from the parking lot. We ended our trip that day with just these two falls, as there was really no fun in watching bare trees, with no leaves and it also started to get really cold. But we decided to visit again in fall and so we did promptly. 
 
Images of the Bridal fall and a short hike leading to it. 
Visiting the CVNP in fall was a good decision. The colors are usually bright till the 3rd week of October and a cloudy day just adds to the delight. We also visited the Blue Hen falls located a little distance away from the Brandywine falls. Blue hen falls is a less crowded place and getting down to see the falls is a great idea as the place looks beautiful from the ground level, although the path can get slippery as there is no board-walking or cementing in the location. 

    
 
 
Images of the Blue Hen falls, the hike to reach there and from various viewing points. 
We wandered a lot aimlessly that day just to savor the colors of fall and the dramatic clouds lingering over the valley. The neatly lined trees and houses present an amazing view to the eyes. I could not resist but stop and take a photograph of this one house so beautifully wrapped in fall colors.


My trip to the Cuyahoga valley national park is not complete yet, as I have some more unfinished visiting to do, like hiking the trails and visiting the Hale farms. The best thing about the valley is that there is no bad season to visit it. Go anytime and you will be presented with a scenery nothing similar to the previous season. May be that's why it is so popular to begin with.