With quarantines and self-isolation keeping most of us indoors, we're missing our beautiful National Parks! For those who have visited, there's nothing like standing in the majesty of a park or preserve that is hundreds of years old and always changing. To show our appreciation for the National Parks Service and cure our every growing FOMO, we've decided once a month to do a spotlight on a different park! We're excited to start this journey with you and hopefully add new sites to your ever-growing hike bucketlist.
For introductions, my name is Shelbey Phillips and I'll be walking you through our first National Parks Spotlight! Though Acorn started in Maine, our headquarters in actually in Cincinnati, Ohio. We thought we'd start out with one that is very dear to all of our hearts, the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Three hours away from our home base, Cuyahoga Valley National Park is located in Cuyahoga Valley in northern Ohio, near Cleveland. This park boasts amazing views, several hiking trails and the popular Brandywine Falls. All of these photos were actually taken on a recent trip last fall. It was the perfect time to visit with beautiful blue skies!
Brandywine Falls is pretty iconic and probably one of the most recognizable landmarks for the park. It's only a short distance from the entrance until you see the rushing waterfall right in front of you. There is even an observation deck down a few flights of stairs where you can get stunning photos like this one and, of course, some great selfie shots if you're feeling spicy. Since it's right at the entrance, you're more than likely not sweaty yet, so I highly recommend group or single pics here! For those wondering, the falls do have a wheelchair accessible boardwalk if the numerous steps are too much.
Now, truth be told, I am not an experienced hiker. This was one of the first real hiking trips that didn't included being at summer camp. As you can imagine, I was a bit worried when my friend informed me that we would be taking a trail called "Ledges." In my mind, I pictured steep rock faces, chasms that would lead to my inevitable demise and lots and lots of climbing. These things are true but to a much lesser degree.
The Ledges trail is full of tall rock formations that reach stories high, towering above as you traverse through forest and rocky terrain. If you peak behind one of these formations, you might find an opening, leading to the otherside. It is as if the rock had split in two, just waiting for you to come through. Exploring these crevices was the highlight of the trip for me! They were so eminence and old, many of the enormous boulders smooth to the touch after generations of weathering. There's quite a few of these "Ledges" through the trail and each one brings something unique.
You may even find something truly breathtaking. What I loved about Cuyahoga Valley National Park was that there are little treasures all around. This staircase is another famous landmark in an already stellar park. The steps look as if they had been ripped from the pages of a novel, beckoning weary travelers into a fantastical realm where anything is possible. Or maybe it's just me.
Not only are the views and hiking great but the camping isn't too bad either! Guests are allowed to camp around the trails in designated areas with the proper permit. Unfortunately, we were not able to get our in-park permit in time as they were completely booked up. We were able to find a lovely campsite with public restrooms (a must-have for a novice like me) still within the park's property. Be sure to check with the National Park Services before your trip for other camping accommodations.
The park was excellent, the camping great but getting to spend the time with friends is what made the weekend spectacular. After a long day hiking, we ate our dinner of franks and s'mores and stayed up well into the evening talking over a warming fire. I remember looking up at the clear night sky, snuggled under my blanket (and of course in my Acorn mocs!) thinking about how lucky I was to have such amazing people in my life and that I get to explore this vast and beautiful world with them by my side.
Special thank you to Brittany Carr for her wonderful photography on our trip!