Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad
In the summer, the train offers excursion trips from Rockside Station in Independence
to Akron and back three times each day. Tickets are $18 for adults, $13 for children.
The train departs from Independence at 9 a.m., 12:45 p.m. and 4:25 p.m. Tickets
can be purchased in advance at cvsr.com.
All-day passes let riders explore stops at their leisure, whether they want to check
out Hale Farm & Village or visit Peninsula's galleries and shops. (Saturday
morning riders can visit Howe Meadow for Countryside Farmers' Market.) There are
also special wine- and beer-tasting excursions (check the website for times). And
good news tired Towpath riders: You and your bike can hop aboard for a one-way trip
back to where you began for just $3.
"My favorite thing is just simply the excursion trip itself through the park," says
Craig Tallman, Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad president and CEO. "[It's] a learning
experience, because you see things you will not see driving a car through the park
on a road." One part not to miss is the wetlands, where the park's eagles reside.
"It's always a big hit with all of our passengers," he says. "Regardless of age,
everyone wants to know where the eagles are."
Bird-watchers can search for and listen to more than 160 species (including rare
varieties from the United States and Canada) in a range of park habitats, including
the unique microenvironment that exists along Ritchie Ledges' sandstone rock formations.
Get more information about park-led guided tours at nps.gov/cuva.
The park offers several ranger-led bird-watching programs throughout the year. A
guide explains bird field marks and behaviors, so observers can spend more time
peering through binoculars and less time looking things up, says Paul Motts, the
park's bird program coordinator and an interpretive park ranger. "We go out to the
best places in the park to see the greatest variety of unusual birds that we can."
"You want to get a really good pair of binoculars, and you want a really good field
guide," says Motts, who suggests checking out Beaver Marsh. Motts adds that watchers
participating in a Big Year — an informal competition to see or hear the largest
number of bird species in a particular geographical area — "stop over to the Cuyahoga
Valley to pick up specialized birds that [you] have a hard time getting."
The national park has more than 70 species of fish living in its river, lakes and
ponds. Fishing locations include Indigo Lake, as well as Armington, Sylvan, Meadowedge
and Horseshoe ponds. Regulations for fishing within the Cuyahoga Valley National
Park can be found on the park's website.
Virginia Kendall Lake is currently closed for fishing due to restoration efforts,
and there is no fishing downstream of the Cuyahoga River's lowhead dam because of
the nesting eagles. Mary Pat Doorley, public affairs officer for the national park,
says fisherman often cast their lines at the confluence of Tinkers Creek and the
river. Expect to catch mostly bluegill and bass.
Park ranger Phil Molnar recommends Horseshoe Pond, where fish are active, and Peninsula
near Lock 29. "Not many people go there to fish," he says. Molnar suggests using
small hooks, and, if you are fly-fishing, use flies that look like crawfish or imitate
other small fish, especially to catch bass. His biggest piece of advice? "Be patient."
Several bridle trails run through the park, from easy to difficult and ranging from
less than 1 mile to 9 miles. Brecksville Stables, which borders the park, also offers
small group trail rides for $50 per rider per hour. Rides are given by appointment
and weather permitting. Visit
brecksvillestables.com for more information.
Cheryl Ciancibelli, instructor at Brecksville Stables, has a small group of horses
for trail rides. She leads riders on the bridle paths of the Cleveland Metroparks
Brecksville Reservation, immediately adjacent to the national park. Riders must
have a certain level of experience and physical fitness in order to ensure a safe
and enjoyable experience.
Meadows and Three Bridges trails are two of Ciancibelli's favorites. "The bridle
trails are winding through-paths that interconnect and always make you want to ...
find out what's at the end of it," she says. Riders can expect to see wildlife,
hills, creeks and winding turns. "You [think], Oh, I wonder what's down that road?
There's a little bit of everything for everyone."
Rent a bike from Century Cycles in Peninsula to hit the Towpath Trail or other bike-friendly
paths nearby. Rentals are $9 per hour, and bikes can be rented Mon-Thu 10 a.m.-8
p.m., Fri-Sat 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sun noon-5 p.m., up to 90 minutes before closing.
For more information, visit centurycycles.com.
Century Cycles' rentals are comfort bikes designed for the Ohio & Erie Canal
Towpath Trail, says owner Scott Cowan, and his Peninsula shop is conveniently located
near the Lock 29 Trailhead. He prefers heading south on the trail, and what you
see will be distinctively different depending on the direction you choose.
Cowan also recommends the Summit County Bike & Hike Trail and the Old Carriage
Trail. "[The Carriage Trail] is quite a hill," he says. "That one would probably
be my favorite one, but it's not for the faint of heart going up or down." Beaver
Marsh is another of his favorites. "You really feel like you're 100 miles away sitting