Cuyahoga Valley National Park offers lush lifeWritten by Art Weber | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Visitors just gush about the waterfalls of Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
Maybe it’s the surprise that there could be such a beautiful national park between two big Ohio cities — Cleveland and Akron — along a river that’s most famous for catching fire back in the environmentally unconscious 1960s.
Huge environmental strides have revived the Cuyahoga River as the beautiful river it once was.
The Cuyahoga Valley is, just that, a heavily forested, steep-sided valley.
"All that water that’s generated on the plateau above the valley has to get down there to the Cuyahoga River and it does it so many ways," said George Hoy, who with wife Katie, is the long-time innkeeper at The Inn at Brandywine Falls. The inn, which is actually owned by the National Park Service, but is operated by the Hoys under a 50-year lease agreement, stands on the rim above the biggest and arguably the best of the falls, Brandywine.
One estimate puts the number of falls in the park at 70, including unnamed cascades and falls that only exist in spring and after heavy rains. In a waterfall-starved state like Ohio, places like 33,000-acre Cuyahoga Valley National Park, now the fifth-most-visited of all the national parks, are at a premium.
Four waterfalls stand out in and near the national park: 20-foot Bridal Veil Falls in the adjacent Bedford Reservation of the Cleveland Metroparks; Blue Hen and Buttermilk Falls, which are connected by a streamside trail; and Brandywine Falls, at 67 feet the largest and best known of them all.
"Sure, you can hear the falls from the inn," Hoy said. "There are times when it’s a roar. But you can always see the top of the falls from our south-facing windows."
Inside the 1848 inn, an elegant Greek Revival farmstead that is now a classic example of adaptive reuse, the Hoys, who did the renovation as part of their agreement with national parks, have created four different guest accommodations, as well as a home for themselves.
"The main house has been renovated faithful to its time, complete with antique furnishings — no reproductions," Hoy said. "Behind the house is the original barn from the early 1800s, which we saved against all advice. It now has two elegant suites."
The Inn is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Despite the elegance, the Hoys continue some of the farmstead traditions. Among them, a flock of chickens provides the fresh eggs that are part of the exquisite breakfast that is offered to guests daily.
After breakfast, visitors often mosey the short distance to the falls, which tumble over a series of sandstone ledges capping reddish Bedford shale, which overlays the rich black of Cleveland shale.
For the more adventurous, it’s a pleasant six-mile round-trip walk from The Inn to 15-foot Blue Hen Falls and the beautiful secluded glen that shelters 20-foot Buttermilk Falls. The Hoys are happy to pack a trail lunch.
There are 120 restaurants within easy driving distance of the inn.
But, the best of it is that Brandywine Falls is even closer.