We spent two nights (April 14-16) at the Clarion Inn, located in Hudson, OH. We stayed at this hotel one time before for one night, a couple years ago, while en route Eureka Springs, Arkansas. During that stay, we noted that the hotel was in close proximity to Cuyahoga Valley National Park. When we decided to visit Cuyahoga Valley National Park this past weekend, we chose to stay at Clarion Inn.
We left our home in Warren PA around 5:30 am en route Ohio.
We ate breakfast at Richard’s Family Restaurant in Youngsville, PA. We ordered omelets with toast (rye for Bob; wheat for me), one order of home fries to share and coffee for Bob / tea for me. Bob had eaten breakfast there before. I hadn’t. Breakfast was delicious and filling. We were back on the road again shortly after 6:30 am.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park is located between Akron and Cleveland in Northeast Ohio. The 32,950-acre park can easily be divided into three regions: North Valley, Central Valley and South Valley. We used this map, which I found on the U.S. National Park Service website, as a guide during our 2-day exploration of the park.
Points of interest 1 through 5 are located in the North Valley region. Interest points 6 through 9 are located in the Central Valley regions. Points of interest 10 through 13 are located in the South Valley region.
We arrived in the North Valley region of Cuyahoga Valley National Park at approximately 9:45 am. In particular, our arrival point in the park was at the Cleveland Metroparks Bedford Reservation. This was our first visit to the North Valley region of Cuyahoga Valley National Park. We discovered there were many points of interest in this region.
Our first stop was at Bridal Veil Falls. We parked at the trail head and walked across Gorge Parkway. It was a short descent from the road via boardwalk and steps to a platform that overlooks the falls.
Once you reach the bottom of the boardwalk and stairs, a bridge crosses over the creek.
Our second stop was at Tinkers Creek Gorge Scenic Overlook. The viewing area is located next to the parking lot.
This overlook provides a panoramic view of the valley from the rim of the gorge. The view would be spectacular in the Autumn. The lighting was particularly good, so this was the only photograph that I took during this stop. We did return to this overlook, and I have a photograph of the view later on in this blog post.
Our third stop was at Willis Picnic Area, which we mistakenly thought was Viaduct Park. The two areas are next to each other. There are several points of interest at Viaduct Park, and we were not finding any of those points of interest. One point of interest was Great Falls. We could hear rushing water, but couldn’t see the waterfall.
We saw a sign at Willis Picnic area that read “trail closed”. It looked like high winds had passed through the picnic area at some point in time, and the downed trees and branches had not been cleaned up. Behind the picnic pavilion we found a “trail” that looked like it led to the bottom of the gorge. Bob hiked down that trail, and it did lead to the bottom of the gorge. Bob didn’t find a waterfall. He found a tunnel, through which Tinkers Creek flows. We later saw the other side of the tunnel at Viaduct Park.
If you look closely, you will see Bob making his way back up the trail. I am glad that I didn’t attempt to hike down that trail. Bob said he had some trouble navigating the trail.
Our fourth stop was at Viaduct Park. This small park features a very nice waterfall, view of a large viaduct, and information signs dotting the trail as you walk through the park. The parking lot is at street level. When we visited the park, we had to drive over a curb to reach the parking lot. From the parking lot there is a paved trail that descends down to Tinkers Creek, where the Great Falls of Tinkers Creek can be viewed from an observation platform. We spent about an hour exploring Viaduct Park.
The Cleveland & Pittsburgh Railroad stone viaduct across Tinkers Creek Gorge was completed in 1864. It replaced the original wooden truss bridge, which opened in 1852. The viaduct is 225 feet long and towers 120 feet above Tinkers Creek.
Here is a short video of The Great Falls. If you are not able to view the embedded video, the direct link may be found by clicking here.
Remember earlier I mentioned that Bob hiked down to Tinkers Creek from the Willis Picnic Area? He saw a tunnel there, through which Tinkers Creek flowed. Here is the other end of that tunnel, which is called The Arch.
The Arch was built between 1901-02. Its purpose is to control the flower of Tinkers Creek, while providing a base for the railroad above. The Arch is 512 feet long, with a 20 degree turn inside. The openings are 40 feet wide and 32 feet high.
Our fifth and last stop at Bedford Reservation was a second stop at Tinkers Creek Gorge Scenic Overlook. As I mentioned earlier the lighting was better than it was during our first stop.
If you walk to the end of the overlook, you will be rewarded with a panoramic view of the valley from the rim of the gorge.
Leaving the overlook, we continued on Gorge Parkway to Dunham Road. We turned right onto Dunham Road, crossed over Tinkers Creek, and turned left onto Tinkers Creek Road. We followed Tinkers Creek Road to its terminus, at which time we turned left onto Canal Road. About this time we decided it was time for lunch. We were hungry, which was understandable. We ate breakfast around 6:00 am, and it was after 1:00 pm.
We ate lunch at Joe’s Family Restaurant in Northfield, OH. The salad bar and soup were excellent. Service was excellent. Our main entrees (meatloaf for me, boneless pork chops for Bob) were piping hot and delicious. Our side dishes were not so great. My mashed potatoes and our mixed vegetables were lukewarm. Our waitress did bring me a new dish of mashed potatoes, which were piping hot. I am surprised she didn’t do the same with the mixed vegetables. Perhaps she didn’t hear me, when I said that the mixed vegetables were also lukewarm.
After lunch we drove back to Cuyahoga Valley National Park, in particular to the South Valley region. We stopped at Beaver Marsh. It was a short walk from the parking lot, along a tow path, to an observation platform. We saw wood ducks, geese, tree swallows and lots of turtles. Bob saw a muskrat, briefly.
From the Beaver Marsh we drove to the Great Blue Heron Viewing Area.
We didn’t stay long at the Great Blue Heron Viewing Area, as there wasn’t much activity at the heron rookery.
We checked into the Clarion Inn around 5:30 pm. We spent rest of the day in our room. We had picked up a few grocery items, after lunch, so we were able to eat a picnic-style dinner in our room.