I frequently hear people describe Ohio in a negative manner. People often describe Ohio as a dull, based on the experience of driving across the state on cross-country road trips. Much of Ohio is associated with the “rust belt”, a term used to describe heavily Industrial parts of this country that have experienced major decline in the past 40 years. This area tends to be centered around the Great Lakes. I’ve heard Cleveland, Ohio’s most historically significant city, referred to as the “mistake by the lake”, and seen an entire episode of TV’s 30 Rock dedicated to mocking the city.
However, there is more to Ohio than most people realize. Cincinnati is a vibrant, if not glamorous, city and a good place to catch a sporting event. Cedar Point Amusement Park is the best theme park I have ever been to. And, prior to my trip to Yellowstone National Park, Cuyahoga Valley National Park’s Brandywine Falls was the best waterfall I had ever seen!
The Cuyahoga Valley actually offers a plethora of recreation opportunities. The Cuyahoga Valley National Park is located near the Ohio Turnpike between the cities of Cleveland and Akron. A towpath trail, which follows the Cuyahoga River through the National Park offers a bicycle connection between the two cities through a very scenic river valley. Surrounding the national park are parks associated with the Cleveland Metro Parks system, as well as Akron’s Summit County Parks. At these parks, one can find yet more scenic views, hikes, picnics, and recreation. Overall, it is an entire region of interesting scenery and fun activities that many seem to overlook when they put down the state of Ohio.
I have previously been to Cuyahoga Valley National Park, and seen Brandywine Falls. So, this week I visited two other parks in the area; one in Cleveland’s Metro Park system, and on in the Summit County System.
Summit County’s Sand Run Metro Park, located on Akron’s Northwest side seems to be a popular place for people to go running/ jogging. I was actually blown away by the fall colors in this park! It was among the best colors I had seen on this trip. My friend’s house actually backs up to this park. One could simply walk out the backyard of his house, or anyone’s house in the neighborhood, right into this park! As someone who has lived in urban areas/ apartment buildings for over a decade (including campus related apartments), the idea of walking out of a place of residence straight into somewhere like this comes across as truly amazing to me.
My main hiking excursion in Ohio was at a place called Bedford Reservation, which is part of Cleveland’s Metro Park system. This park is located just to the east of the Cuyahoga River, along a creek called Tinker’s Creek. This Creek flows directly into the Cuyahoga, and therefore, this area would still be considered part of the Cuyahoga Valley.
The hike along the Bridle Trail here at Bedford Reservation is a scenic hike with rolling terrain. After about 3/4 of a mile, it leaves the river valley and climbs up onto the ridge. This climb is fairly steep, but also fairly short lived. It was steep enough to cause someone to lose their breath a little bit, but not exactly tiring. The rest of the hike also contains kind of a mixture of ups and downs. This, of course, differs greatly from the typical hiking experience in Colorado, as well as the hike I did at the Smoky Mountains, where the hike is only uphill on the way out and only downhill on the way back. In this sense, it reminds me of a typical hike in the midwest, where this is more common.
Driving across Ohio on the Turnpike still sounds like a dull experience to me. But that does not mean we need to judge the value of the entire state from this experience. The entire Cuyahoga Valley is quite scenic, and contains some interesting recreation opportunities. I think on my next visit here I would like to try to ride a bicycle from Akron to Cleveland along the towpath.