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Issue Date: July 2013


Park Place: Explore More

Choose your own adventure within the park, whether you want to ride the rails or pedal the trails, scope out birds or cast a line. 

The Vitals The Details Expert Advice

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-watching
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."

Fishing
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."

Horseback Riding
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."

Bicycling
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 [there]."

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