Top Ten Parks for Spring

Only-in-springtime view: The Ohio buckeye tree in bloom.
Activities: Hiking, biking, bird-watching

Cuyahoga straddles a significant part of the gap between Akron and Cleveland, Ohio. Despite the nearness to major urban areas, you can find some remote areas in this newest of new national parks. But we're not going to kid you. The Cuyahoga National Park is the quintessential urban park. Far from pristine, much of it has been reclaimed from industrial use. In fact, the canal was one of the major commercial corridors in the era before the interstate road, and even before the railroads.

In spring, the park comes to life. And I don't just mean the people populating the hiking and biking trails. Birds pass through from climes south. The wildflowers come into bloom. You can't pass up seeing the Ohio state flower — the buckeye — in bloom. The buckeye is a modestly sized tree covered with whitish spikes in April or May. In honor of the tree, hit the Buckeye Trail, Ohio's epic loop, a branch of which travels through Cuyahoga.

If you want to share a trail with crowds, hit the Cuyahoga Valley Towpath Trail. This is 30-plus miles, very gently graded, and wide enough to allow hordes of bikers and walkers. This is not a path to speed on; think of it as a promenade, slow and stately, and you'll be in the right mood.

If you want a more isolated experience, the national park has miles of more rustic trails on which to get away. Rustic doesn't suit you? Grab the historic train that winds its way through the valley. The industrial landscape changes to the verdant. This is a region of transformation, both seasonal and historic. Cuyahoga speaks to a greener future, where industry respects nature.

More on Cuyahoga Valley National Park


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