Cuyahoga National Park Day 2
I had a wonderful day hiking at Cuyahoga! I let myself sleep in (I needed it) and got to the park around 10 am after breakfast at the hotel. After getting my bearings and a map at the visitors center, I set off for the ledges trailhead. The weather was perfect today! I just barely needed a jacket in the morning, but by noon it was a lovely 70 degrees.
This trail is the highest rated in the national park for a reason. The trail is just short of two miles with a little elevation change. It takes you past moss-covered rocks and through narrow caverns. It was a stark difference from the trails I hiked yesterday and I began to realize why Cuyahoga is worthy of being a national park.
The landscape was a mix of light and shadow, making it kind of hard to take good pictures at first. Eventually, I figured out how to best adjust the light settings on my camera and the picture quality drastically improved.
As an interesting example of lighting, the two pictures to the left are of the same location with different light settings. The top photo is much more accurate to what my eyes were seeing.
I will eventually have to post some videos on Youtube because there were some excellent parts of the hike that could only really be captured by video. Pictures don't really capture the scale of some of these canyons! A neat feature of this hike was icebox cave. Visitors weren't allowed inside since it would disturb the population of bats that lives within, but just standing at the entrance to the cave you could tell where it got its name. The air was freezing! According to a plaque near the cave, the cave stays between 40-50 degrees year-round making it about 25 degrees cooler than the outside air!
The ledges hike ended with a gorgeous overlook with views of most of the Cuyahoga Valley! My first thought upon seeing this was "Dang... I need to come back in the fall!" Still a gorgeous view anyways!
After ledges, I set out for the buckeye trail leading to Blue Hen Falls. The trail there wasn't very scenic and the most memorable part of it was the insane quantity of mud (old shoes for the win!). Fortunately, I made it to the end without slipping!
This trail also has the most elevation change at the national park. Though the highest point is only 200ft from the base, you go up and down multiple times. Still, this was nothing compared to the hikes in Arches or Zion. I have concluded that Cuyahoga is a fairly flat national park.
You are rewarded for the extra effort on this trail with a little waterfall at the end. It certainly isn't the most impressive one I've seen, but it was definitely worth the hike! I am saving Brandywine Falls for tomorrow. It's a much bigger waterfall and draws much bigger crowds so as it was a gorgeous Sunday afternoon, all of the parking spots were taken.
In the late afternoon, I went on a short hike around Kendall Lake where I got this nice picture of a goose (note the improvement in focus from yesterday). My last hike of the day was at covered bridge trail. At this point, I decided to head into Cleveland for dinner. I had a late breakfast and was planning a two-meal day (brunch and early dinner). So after about 10 miles of hiking on just a cliff bar and water, I was ready to eat!
I spent a couple of minutes driving around downtown Cleveland before stopping at a park on Lake Erie to watch the sunset. I was definitely impressed with Cleveland! It was a much nicer city than I was expecting and I definitely have to come back to get to know the city better!