Best Spots to See Fall Foliage in the Park

By Mady Stoner @wanderlustinohio

With fall season in full swing, it’s time to start planning a trip to Cuyahoga Valley National Park to see the fall foliage in its peak. We’ve put together a list of the best spots around the park to see fall foliage, including easier hikes for the entire family as well as some more challenging hikes that offer great views.

The Ledges Overlook

Hiking the ledges during the fall season is absolutely stunning. Between the dense woods surrounded by large rock formations, you’ll find yourself in awe of the scenery around you. However, if you don’t have as much time to dedicate to a hike, you can walk across the parking lot through the field of grass to visit the overlook for a breathtaking view. It’s even more stunning to see while the sun sets over the horizon.

The image is a photograph of the ledges overlook in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. It shows a canopy of treetops. The fall foliage is in hues of green, red, yellow, and orange.
The Ledges Overlook

Brandywine Falls

Brandywine Falls is a great place to take the whole family, as a boardwalk will lead you to an upper, accessible viewing area for the falls. Though a lower viewing deck requires visitors to walk down approximately 80 steps. If you want to extend your visit, there is a 1.5-mile gorge loop that leads you down and around the creek then back up to the parking lot. 

Blue Hen Falls

A classic hike any time of year, this is a standout during fall season. With the small lot across the street permanently closed, this has become a longer hike due to the new parking situation. The trail is about 2.5 miles out and back, with some elevation along the way. Take a rest once you reach the falls before heading back. Tip: Try to plan your trip here after a rainfall, as the waterfall may only be a small trickle otherwise!

The image is a photograph of Blue Hen Falls in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The photo shows a waterfall cascading over a natural stone ledge covered with green moss in some spots. The trees in the background have green leaves but some leaves have turned yellow or orange.
Blue Hen Falls

Kendall Lake / Kendall Hill / Salt Run Trail

Kendall Lake and Kendall Hill are two spots that are a must-visit during peak foliage. The trees reflecting into the water create a stunning backdrop. This is a great spot to come enjoy a picnic while immersing yourself in nature.

If you are an early riser, it doesn’t get much better than hiking Kendall Hill during sunrise, especially in the fall. Even though the temps are quite low in the morning, it’s worth bundling up since it’s quite a sight to see. Park at the Pine Hollow trailhead to be at the top of the hill and enjoy the view below.

If you want to get a solid hike in, you can see both Kendall Lake and Kendall Hill while hiking the Salt Run Trail. It’s a little over three miles of hiking as you weave up and down through the hills.

The image is a photograph of Kendall Lake in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The photo shows a still lake, tall grass in the foreground, and trees with vibrant fall foliage in the background. The leaves are shades of orange, red, yellow, and green.
Kendall Lake

Old Carriage Trail

If you’re looking for a longer hike with scenic leaf peeping, try the Old Carriage Trail. This is a 3.5-mile loop that is accessed from the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail, between Red Lock and Station Road Trailhead in Sagamore Hills. This trail was recently repaired and rerouted in a few places after the demolition of unstable bridges. This trail is for more serious/experienced hikers as there are some narrow paths and some elevation. However, the views you will experience along the way are worth it.

Note Park Alert: Old Carriage Trail Bridge

Approximately .3 miles from the northern trail entrance, the bridge is closed due to severe erosion of the bank underneath. No detour available.

The image is a photograph of Old Carriage Trail in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. It shows a park trail lined with trees and fallen leaves. The tree leaves are hues of orange.
Old Carraige Trail