Best CVNP Trails for Autumn Trees

Despite the confusing weather lately, fall is certainly arriving in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. This season is one of the best times to enjoy the park: crisp autumn air, bright fall colors, and crunchy leaves on the trails. We’ve put together a collection of our favorite CVNP trails where you can see trees in their autumn finery during the coming weeks—peak color is typically in early to mid-October.

Even after the leaves fall, the trees of the Cuyahoga Valley have plenty to offer: bark that can be furrowed or smooth, statuesque branches, and impressive trunks rising toward the sky. Take an afternoon to explore and see what you can find!

Six Trails to See Fall Foliage in CVNP

Haskell Run Trail

Witchhazel leaves & blooms turn a bright golden yellow or orange in fall (Photo: Katja Schulz, CC BY 2.0)

Length: 0.5 miles
Trail information >
Trees to look for
: Hazelnut, witchhazel, oaks (white, red), sassafras, tulip poplar, red oak, white ash, sycamore

Check out the hazelnut and witchhazel trees near the trailhead at Happy Days Lodge and scattered uncommonly along the trail. On the south side of trail about 100 yards from trailhead, there’s a large black oak followed by a few medium sized white oaks and sassafras. Tulip poplars and red oak are common in this area, as well as a few white ash stands, particularly near the creek. A few large sycamores are also present near the west bridge on the trail.

Oak Hill Trail 

Sylvan Pond on Oak Hill Trail (Photo: © Bruce Winges)

Length: 1.4 miles
Trail information >
Trees to look for
: Dogwood, oaks (pin, black, red), red maple, tulip poplar, bigtooth aspen, sassafras, shagbark hickory, white pine, white ash

The boardwalk near the trailhead is lined with dogwoods, and a small stand of pin oaks holds sentinel at the trailhead. Patches of silky and flowering dogwoods are scattered elsewhere along the trail, particularly near Sylvan Pond. Red maples are common throughout the area, as are tulip poplars and bigtooth aspen, including some big tulip poplars and bigtooth aspen on the northern section of the trail.

Medium-sized black and red oaks dominate the southeast section of the trail, and there are a few stands of sassafras and shagbark hickory along the southern section of the trail. This trail also passes through some stands of white pine, as well as dead white ash scattered along the trail.

Boston Run Trail  

Enjoying the changing of the seasons on Boston Run Trail (Photo: NPS Collection)

Length: 3 miles
Trail information >
Trees to look for
: Tulip poplar, oaks (red, black, pin, chinquapin), red maples, sugar maples, yellow birch, witchhazel, hazelnut, bigtooth aspen, sassafras, dogwood

On the western section of this trail loop, look for tulip poplars, red oaks, and black oaks. Red maples are also common throughout the area, particularly along the north and east section of the loop. A few monster tulip poplars line the trail descending north to the creek, with yellow birch and witchhazel also common near the creek. A few, small hazelnut trees are present just north of the creek. Keep your eyes open for a few stands of gnarly pin oaks on the northeast section of the trail, as well as a cool stand of chinquapin oak. Sassafras is scattered uncommonly along the trail, and the south section near Route 303 supports a lot of silky and flowering dogwoods. Sugar maples dominate a small area where the trail emerges into the field near Route 303.

Butler and Valley Trail Loop 

Red maple leaves show off their deep scarlet color (Photo: ODNR)

Length: 1.7 miles
Trail information >
Trees to look for
: Oaks (red, white), bigtooth poplar, tulip poplar, black gum, sassafras, walnut, red oak, black maple, sugar maple, dogwood

The northeast section of this trail has plenty of red oaks, white oaks, and bigtooth poplars, with the north central section supporting black gum, sassafras, and walnut (including a few big ones). Tulip poplars, red oaks, black maples, and sugar maples are common along the west and southern sections of the trail, including some large trees, particularly on the west section of the trail. A few patches of dogwoods are scattered along the trail, especially along edges of fields to the north and west.

Furnace Run Trail

Exploring fall color along Furnace Run (Photo: NPS/Ted Toth)

Length: About 0.3 mile immediately north of Everett Rd
Trail information >
Trees to look for
: Walnut, oaks (black, white), elm, sugar maple, black maple

In this area, there are plenty of enormous trees to see! This short section of trail supports some very big walnuts, red oaks, black oaks, white oaks, and elms (both American and slippery). There are also a lot of sugar maples regenerating in the understory, as well as some black maples.

Buckeye Trail (between Riverview Rd and Blue Hen Falls)

Blue Hen Falls is a great spot to visit along this trail section (Photo: Ed Toerek) 

Length: About 1 mile
Trail information >
Trees to look for
: Oaks (white, black, red), tulip poplar, witchhazel, sassafras, black cherry, beech, sugar maple

There are plenty of gorgeous trees to see on this trail, particularly giant white oaks and large tulip poplars. Sugar and black oaks are common in the section closest to Riverview Road, with black oak and red oak common throughout the area. The trail section near Blue Hen Falls has a lot of sugar maples, as well as tulip poplars, black cherry, beech, red oaks, and black oaks, as well as a few sassafras trees. The view at the falls is at its best in autumn, surrounded by sugar maples and other colorful trees in the area.

We hope you enjoy getting out into the park this autumn! Need help identifying any of these trees? Check out this guide from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources >

Many thanks to Chris Davis, CVNP Plant Ecologist, for help with this blog post.