Living in Michigan my whole life, I never once felt all that inclined to visit Ohio. In my mind, all of the beauty of the midwest lay within the Mitten State, but much to my surprise I discovered an amazing plot of land within Ohio. Cuyahoga Falls National Park is filled entirely with waterfalls of different sizes and characteristics–some trickling, some gushing–all stunning examples of geological history. This park, spread over 20,399 acres of land, is a prime example of the natural beauty and rawness surrounded by the Great Lakes.
Driving to Cuyahoga in Ohio from western Michigan is possibly the least aesthetic, visually-pleasing drive ever. As we headed east on I-80, we became worried that our high expectations of waterfalls and lush, green scenery had flown out the window. However, when our GPS told us we were getting closer, we began to notice that instead of seeing only open interstate ahead of us, the horizon became increasingly greener and full of life. Driving into the park is a truly breathtaking experience. The valleys surrounding the interstate are water filled and lush, and an amazing suspension bridge hangs over you as you are welcomed into the land of the falls.
Our first night at Cuyahoga was dedicated entirely to finding our campsite in a neighboring campground, and getting ourselves to Blossom Music Center for a Dave Matthews Band show. Blossom Music Center is an amazing venue nestled right in the center of the national park, which adds an awesome dynamic to the live music experience. Tailgating at Blossom is a unique experience, hanging out around thousands of people who care so much about the music you are there to see, and being surrounded entirely by all different types of trees indigenous to the midwest.
The show was fantastic, including the lake effect storm we managed to survive while camping in the park that night. The excitement that consumed us as we thought about going waterfalling the following day made it almost impossible for any of us to sleep.
The moment had come for us to pack up our campsite and head to the falls. Brandywine falls was our main destination, mostly because a woman working in the park at the time told us they were flowing heavily. We took her advice and made our way to the Brandywine trail, a fairly relaxing boardwalk that takes you through the layered cliff walls surrounding the Crooked River. The winding boardwalks through layered rock formations were seemingly as good as it got, until the trail started descending down towards the rushing water.
The stairs lead down towards the bottom of the falls, perfectly fit between the ledges and the river bank, made up of large rocks that direct the water in beautiful patterns. There is a powdery/clay-like mineral built up on all of the rocks surrounding the path, adding beautiful colors to their surfaces. I found myself staring at the reflection of rippling water patterns from the sun cascading onto the the rock walls, sending me into a nature-induced trance.
As the boardwalk veers towards the water, the falls become visible. This area seems just like Neverland: completely covered in the greenest green, and oversized red rocks. I felt so small when standing next to the 60-foot geological wonder of a waterfall. The energy of the water flowing over the crest is almost overwhelming at first, but the rushing sound of the water soon becomes relaxing. We caught the falls at the perfect time of the year, because the flow of the water was extremely heavy, which is a sight I would highly recommend to anyone.
Cuyahoga National iPark s a hidden treasure that has something for everyone, from hippies watching endless live music in the valley of Blossom Music Center, to backpackers and hikers of all different skill levels. The memories I have from that park will stay with me forever.