By guest blogger Claudine Grunenwald Kirschner
In the fall of 2017, I completed my goal of hiking all of the trails in Cuyahoga Valley National Park within a year. I set that goal the day I turned 45 years old and completed it the night before turning 46.
Inspired by the extensive Trail Guide created by the Cuyahoga Valley Trails Council, I spent the year hiking my way through the beautiful terrain of CVNP as described in its pages. I fell in love with every mile during hikes that took me through marsh and meadow, towering stands of old growth trees, wildflowers, and streams.
I experienced each season throughout my 90+ hikes, totaling 280 miles. I managed short loop trails in the small window of time during which all four of my children were at school, and I spent long weekend days logging dozens of miles. I discovered more about myself than I ever anticipated and found that on days I wasn’t in the national park, I longed to be.
By the time I finished my goal—with a two-day, 46-mile traverse of the portion of Buckeye Trail within CVNP—I realized I was forever connected to our incredible Cuyahoga Valley and the amazing people I met along my journey. I also felt I’d finally earned my trail name: Coyote.
As we welcome 2018, I encourage you to explore different places in CVNP this year. Let me recommend five hikes to get you started:
- Forest Point (accessible at the southwest corner of the field near Octagon Shelter). This half-mile loop gives amazing views of deep ravines and a variety of live and fallen trees, especially in winter. Hike it once, or in each direction to fully enjoy the sights.
- Buckeye Trail (from Boston Store to Pine Lane Trailhead). This four-mile stretch, where you follow the blue blazes that denote the Buckeye Trail, boasts hilly terrain with bends in the path that will stop you in your tracks to take in the beauty.
- Bridle Trail at Tinkers Creek (accessible from Egbert Trailhead, Bridal Veil Falls parking, or Hemlock Creek parking). Save this 12.6-mile loop for a day you can pack food, plenty of water, extra socks, and even a blanket to stop and enjoy the wide variety of places along the trail. There is a bit of everything to experience: woods, ravines, waterfalls, and streams to cross. (Note that in high water, streams are impassable, and you return on the same trail.)
- Little Meadow (accessible from Little Meadow parking lot on Quick Road). While this is not specifically a trail on its own, in late summer it is not to be missed. The wide swaths of walkable paths mowed throughout the meadow are breathtaking and at moments otherworldly.
- Perkins Trail (accessible from Everett Covered Bridge Trailhead). This 2.75-mile loop trail is deceivingly difficult but incredibly stunning in its variety of views. More than once I exclaimed out loud to myself about its rugged beauty. You can use the connector trail to Riding Run Trail and extend the hike an additional four miles.
Of course, these suggestions are just the beginning, as I could share a wonderful detail about each and every trail in CVNP. You might even consider stopping by the Conservancy’s Trail Mix store in Peninsula to pick up your own copy of the Trail Guide and discover dozens of amazing places to explore in 2018.
Just make sure to tell them that Coyote sent you.
Meet the Author!
Claudine Grunenwald Kirschner collaborates with the Conservancy to offer Women in the Wild programs in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. These retreats give women an opportunity to gather in the beauty of the national park as part of a supportive community to connect to self, nature, and each other. The next Women in the Wild event is February 2-4, 2018. More information and registration can be found here >
The full list of upcoming 2018 Women in the Wild events includes the following—click on the name of each program for more information and registration: