In Cuyahoga Valley, runners can fly through rolling hills and forest, pause to see stunning waterfalls, visit sweeping overlooks, and explore the history-laden culture surrounding Ohio’s beloved national park.Less
Cuyahoga Valley National Park is a hidden gem for trail runners, tucked between the urban sprawl of both Akron and Cleveland, Ohio. This park makes a crucial refuge for nature and a welcome retreat for those who seek it. With over 110 miles of trail spread across 33,000 acres, Cuyahoga offers the rare opportunity to run through deep woods and lose the drone of city traffic.
The Buckeye Trail is Ohio's showpiece long-distance trail, totaling more than 1400 miles to circumnavigate the state by way of footpath, greenway, and some road. A section of it goes through Cuyahoga Valley, with its northern terminus at Oak Grove picnic area. From there, a mixed-surface and well-graded pathway winds along ridges and hollows for a surprisingly remote-feeling 14 miles to Pine Lane trailhead.
Other than the ultra-popular waterfall hikes, Ledges Trail tops the list as the most stunning loop in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Popular among hikers, the trail is only ~2.5 miles in length, so trail runners often pair this one with Pine Grove Loop to form a 3.5-miler instead. Several other trails also intersect the network, in case you're looking for a longer run.
Ledges and Wetmore trails together make a run through one of the more isolated and untraveled corners of Cuyahoga Valley National Park. It’s a nicely varied loop in terms of scenery and terrain. Instead of one main climb or descent, the route rolls gradually through drainages and hills offering several short, punchy climbs instead.
This trail running tour may just become your favorite loop in all of Cuyahoga Valley National Park! Beginning at the Furnace Run trailhead, a figure-8 loop combines steep and technical trail with a healthy mix of old roads that are wide and gradual. The route is somewhat complicated, so you’ll want to study the map to make sure you stay on track.
Located in the heart of Cuyahoga Valley National Park, the Plateau Trail from Oak Hill trailhead is an easy, go-to trail run that many people claim to be one of their favorites in the entire park. Though it is open year round, consider planning a fall trip to enjoy the changing of seasons and array of colors that ensue.
The Boston trailhead, near the park visitor center, makes the starting point for several hikes and runs in Cuyahoga Valley. One of the best is a loop with Buckeye and Valley Bridle trails. Never too challenging, it goes through beautiful forests and open meadows, offering plenty of views along the way. Another option is the Buckeye/Towpath loop, which is a bit longer but similar in difficulty.
Though more often chosen as a hike than a trail run, this short loop visits the centerpiece waterfall of Cuyahoga Valley National Park––Brandywine Falls. Accessed by a mix of boardwalk and stairs, this 65’ waterfall can be viewed as a short out-and-back hike to the boardwalk, or on a 1.3-mile run along the Brandywine George Trail.