Akron Ohio – hiking in two Metro Parks along the Cuyahoga River (aka “the burning river")

Published by 360 Pro , 24 April 2008, 23h30.

Region: World » United States » Ohio
Date of the hike:15 April 2008
Hiking grading: T3 - Difficult Mountain hike
Geo-Tags: USA 

Since I lived in Ohio for more than five years I go and visit friends and family there once in a while. Following is some information about this area and a hike report about a fun little excursion along the Cuyahoga (pronounced like this) River.

The US state Ohio is not exactly a mountaineer’s paradise. It is basically all flat with a few hills here and there. Its highest elevation is Campbell Hill 1549 feet (472 meters) in the south; therefore, you most likely won’t go to Ohio in case you’re looking for the “big” mountains with nice views. However, if you’re looking for easy hiking (T1-T3), Ohio actually offers quite variety of State and Regional Parks and they present an enormous selection of easy hikes. There is actually also a National park in Ohio, the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

The history of the Cuyahoga River in the last century is quite famous - for a sad reason though: due to the tremendous pollution of the river with oils and debris, it caught on fire - not just once but several times, the first time in 1936. Therefore, the Cuyahoga River is often referred to as “the burning river” or “in this river you don’t drown, but decay”.
Some pictures of the burning river like this one :
The burning Cuyahoga River
can be found on http://www.clevelandmemory.org/

In the late 1960 the Cuyahoga River even made it into the Time magazine. It also helped drive pollution control activities, which later resulted in the “Clean Water Act, Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement”, and the creation of federal and state “Environmental Protection Agency”. The 3 dams built in the Cuyahoga River were part of the problem, because they created a large stagnant pool with water containing low oxygen levels. Therefore, in 2004 the Kent dam was bypassed and the Munroe Falls dam was modified in 2005. Today the Cuyahoga River is still not the cleanest river you ever saw, but fish and other water life has returned.

Native Americans called this river "Cuyahoga" which means "crooked river" in the Iroquois language. It actually played an important role for them: The Cuyahoga River is northbound; eventually it connects to the Atlantic Ocean (via Lake Erie). The shortest distance between the Cuyahoga River and the Tuscarawas River - a southbound river which connects to the Ohio River and eventually to the Gulf of Mexico – is only 8 miles away. Therefore, the Native Americans maintained the so-called “Portage Trail”, where they carried their canoes between the two rivers. Supposedly this portage trail was marked by the Indians with the so-called Signal trees. One example of such a tree (which is over 300 years old now) can be seen at South Cascade Valley.

Our Hike

The hike we did was in two of Summit County’s Metro Parks, “Cascade Valley South” and “Gorge”. The summit county Metro Parks consist of about 15 different parks with lots of trails. They are spread all over the greater Akron area / Summit County.

Our hike was kind of semi legal since at several points we didn’t follow the path but only path traces and at the Ohio Edison Dam we “unknowingly” ended up in an area which turned out to be a “no trespassing zone”.

Pretty detailed maps of these two parks can be found on the Metro Parks website: Cascade Valley South and Gorge (or in the two PDF attachments in this report)

We started at the entrance of the Metro Park “South Cascade Valley”. From the last parking lot we more or less followed the south side riverbank (path traces) all the way to the Ohio Edison Dam. On the riverbank you’ll find interesting remains of “Cascade Race” (a waterway that powered the mills and businesses along the Ohio & Erie Canal) and the failed “Chuckery Race”.  After the dam we followed the Highbridge trail to the park entrance, crossed the Front St. Bridge to the northern entrance of the Gorge Park and then followed the upper and later “difficult” trail to its turn. From there we walked up to the north end of the State Rd. Bridge and crossed it to the south side of the Cuyahoga River again. From there we then walked down to the Highbridge trail and went back to the parking lot of South Cascade Valley. Finally we also looked at the Indian Signal Tree, which is located at the first parking lot of the Cascade Valley South Park.

Hike partners: 360

Click to draw, click on the last point to end drawing

 168.kml Cuyahoga


Open in a new window · Open in this window

Post a comment»