If you are wondering what to do with your children this winter, look no further than The Cuyahoga Valley National Park. With more than 30,000 acres, Ohio’s only national park offers families and outdoor enthusiasts hundreds of miles of single- track and all-purpose trails to explore, and history that dates back to the early 1800s. Plush forests, farmland, rolling hills and 100 miles of the Cuyahoga River offer scenic beauty for hikers, and photographers. The CVNP, which begins in Cleveland and travels south into Akron, has more than two and a half-million visitors per year. According to the CVNP Trail Guide, third edition, the CVNP is typically ranked in the top 10 most visited national parks in the country. The CVNP provides visitors with year-round activities.
Winter sledding and Tobogganing
Sliding downhill on thin sheet of plastic or the latest sled is sure to bring back memories. The Chalet Recreation, just one of several places to have fun in the CVNP offers visitors year-round recreation. November-March, two 1,000-foot refrigerated ice chutes operate with or without snow, following Thanksgiving. After a few hours of fun in the snow, it’s time to warm up by one of the two fireplaces while snacking in a gathering room that has a large-screen television.
Chalet at Mill Stream
16200 Valley Parkway
Strongsville, Ohio 44136
Hours of operation
Noon – 10:30 p.m.
One ride, $3
All day – children 11 and under, $6
All-day – adults, $8
As winter turns to spring, the CVNP offers even more ways to enjoy the great outdoors.
Within the heart of the CVNP is the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail, more commonly known as the “towpath.” During the early 19th century the Ohio & Erie Canal played an important role in transportation for Ohioans. Today, remnants of the canal (locks) can be seen while traveling along the towpath. Lock 37, near Canal Road offers a look into the past: 150 years ago. Nearby is the Frazee house built in the early 1800s, during the construction of the Ohio and Erie Canal. Tours of the Frazee House offer “exhibits relating to architectural styles, construction techniques and the Frazee family.”
7733 Canal Road
Open May 1 – Oct. 31
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Other buildings to see
Canal Visitor Center
For more information, visit: www.nps.gov/cuva/planyourvisit/visitor-center-photos.htm.
If you want to see the rich history of the CVNP from a warm and comfortable spot, while having lunch or sipping wine, reserve a seat on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. The railway had its first steam engine churn through the Cuyahoga Valley Railway in 1880. Built to transport coal, serve farmers, merchants and factories, the railway signified a time of prosperity. Fast forward more than 120 years later and the CVSR steams past more than 10 points of interest and offers riders everything from education programs for schools, daycares and camp programs to beer and wine tasting excursions for adults.
Children, grades 5-8, can explore the mysteries of the Underground Railroad, a network in which runaway slaves traveled. Interactive activities offer students a hands-on experience where costumed characters “draw your students into a complex period of history when individuals used their lives to change the world.”
Chaperones 1 per every 10 students are free
Additional Chaperones $8
For physical activity, the CVNP offers miles of easy to moderate hikes and more challenging trails for experienced hikers.
Some of the best hikes, to name a few, according to the CVNP Trail Guide, third edition:
• Bedford Reservation bridle trails
• Ledges Trail, Peninsula
• Brecksville Reservation Hemlock Trail
Hemlock Loop Trail is a moderate trail and begins at the Brecksville Nature Center, off of Chippewa Drive. The trail is marked on a “signpost with white-on-green background hemlock tree symbol.” At various points the Hemlock Trail will connect with the all-purpose trail and the bridle trail. While on the bridle trail remember horses have the right of way.
2.5 miles of moderate hiking
Elevation change – 220 feet
Brecksville Reservation map – centralohiohorse.com/files/Brecksvillemap.pdf
CVNP and the towpath have so much to offer, it is impossible to share all of its rich and historic details. The following Web sites offer additional information.
Other locations to sled/toboggan:
Big Creek Reservation
Memphis Picnic Area
Sleepy Hollow Golf Course
Euclid Creek Reservation
Hill in Kelly Picnic Area
Hill off State Road
Hill east of Porter Creek Drive
Mill Stream Run Reservation
Hill in Pawpaw Picnic Area
North Chagrin Reservation
River Grove Winter Recreation Area, Old River Farm Reserved/Group Picnic Area
Rocky River Reservation
Hill north of Barrett Road in Berea
Big Met Golf Course
Little Met Golf Course
Mastick Woods Golf Course
South Chagrin Reservation
Hill on corner of Sulphur Springs Drive and Chagrin River Road
Hill off Hawthorn Parkway, south of Solon Road