Take a walk on the wooded side

Sara Macho

The Brigade of the American Revolution act out various fighting techniques from the 18th century at Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Cuyahoga Valley National Park is more than just a open space; it’s a historical park. LESLEY KATZENMEYER | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: John Proppe

It has more than 125 miles of hiking and bicycling trails and preserves 33,000 acres of breathtaking territory. It’s the third most visited recreational area in the country, and it’s located just minutes away from Kent.

The Cuyahoga Valley National Park, which was crowned a national park in 2000, offers endless possibilities to its visitors, who totaled 2.5 million last year.

“The Cuyahoga Valley National Park is a great place to get away from the rest of the world,” said Travis White, volunteer program manager for the park system. “It’s a place where you can drop off your stress and get back to nature.”

Whether someone is interested in history, hiking, nature or solitude, the park features it all: fresh, open-air trails, cascading waterfalls, hundreds of woodland creatures, a winding river and various historical sites.

“What makes the park even more unique is that it’s stuck in middle of urban suburbs,” said Wendy Mills, volunteer nature interpreter. She refers to it as an “urban national park.”

After a long day of classes, work and the normal day-to-day chaos, hop on state Route 303 and enter a world where exams, papers, roommate troubles and part-time job stresses seem to instantly melt away in the beauty of Ohio.

While it is impossible to illustrate just how many stunning areas are located throughout the park, White and Mills recommend trying the following sections. However, students can also experience these areas in their own specialized way. To go off the beaten trail, just pick up a map at any entrance point.

Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail

This 100-mile multi-purpose trail stretches from Cleveland to Akron and all the communities in between. It is available to patrons 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and could definitely be labeled “the scenic route.”

Along the path, individuals can enjoy the relaxing sounds of the babbling Cuyahoga River or the various historical canal sites that dot the trail. White said the area offers thrilling experiences throughout the day. In the early morning or at dusk, patrons may catch a glimpse of a family of deer or a group of distinctive birds.

The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad

Put the car keys away for the day and take a trip on this unique train, which runs between Cleveland and Canton and offers year-round excursions throughout the park and other points of interest.

Ticket prices range from $9 to $45, depending on the type of trip. The railroad also offers a variety of themed trips, including a Wine-Tasting, Ghost Hunting, Underground Railroad, Polar Express, Peninsula and Destination Akron getaway.

The park is offering special event train rides as well throughout the fall season. For more information call (800) 468-4070 or visit www.cvsr.com.

Boston Store

History majors and those who have an interest in historical Ohio might enjoy this quaint museum, located on Boston Mills Road. The Boston Store is a restored 1836 structure, featuring canal boat exhibits and interactive displays.

Patrons can take a step back through time and learn more about the art of canal transportation, as this industry flourished throughout the 1800s.

Happy Days Visitor Center

Located off state Route 303, this building is a restored Civilian Conservation Corps campsite, originally built in 1939 at the time of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal.

The center not only serves as a historical landmark, but also as a location for special events including concerts and festivals.

Bike and Hike Trail

This multi-purpose trail extends through Summit County and is managed by Metro Parks, according to a Cuyahoga Valley brochure.

It offers much of the same ambiance of the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail, but encompasses a shorter diameter.

Buckeye Trail

The Buckeye Trail measures 1,200 miles and connects with the park, according to a Cuyahoga Valley brochure. It offers visitors with an exhilarating hiking experience, and is recommended for seasoned hikers.

Contact features reporter Sara Macho at [email protected].