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Ledge Trail – Cuyahoga National Park, Ohio
I have lived near the park for more than 10 years. If anyone asks me one trail he or she must hike in the park, it would the ledge trail. I have hiked it countless number of times and still find it to be an enjoyable/relaxing stroll with each visit. It is especially beautiful in winter.
The trailhead is off the Kendall Park Road and is accessible from South or North. I normally enter via the south entrance. Kendall Park Road intersects with Akron-Cleveland Avenue. Major highways taking you to the park are Route 303 and Route 8.
The parking lot sits next to a big open lawn. There are multiple ways to hike the trail. If you don’t have much time and is looking for a short hike, just following the gated paved road by the bulletin board, and head straight into the woods. At the 4 way intersection, bear right into the dense junipers, then take a sharp left turn for a small loop hike. This hike captures the essence of the ledge and allows you to hike from the top of the ledge to the bottom, along the way passing a 'cave' and always emersed in a dense junifer forest, engulfed in the sweet smell of pine. The hike is capped off by a short and steep climb up a rocky staircase. Don’t forget to explore the various narrow pathways extend into the 'ledges’. In my opinion these narrow pathways are the best part of ledge and leads to some surprises.
For a longer hike and a full tour of the ledge, start off the hike by head to the ‘upper left corner’ / Western end of the lawn area. There you will find a viewpoint; this is probably the most popular spot in the entire park. From here, continue head West and hike down toward a trail that surrounds the lawn area – this path allows you to circle the giant lawn area above from underneath. During the hike, you will pass the rocky staircase off on your right, the 'cave', a footbridge, etc. This large loop hike will end at the parking lot.
What make the ledge hike unique are its evergreens and Narrows. I also find its beauty multiples by leaps and bounds after a fresh coat of snow. Having snow draped over moss- encrusted boulders and evergreens creates dramatic sceneries.
Update (2009): year after year, we have started to notice more graffiti around the Ledge Trail. As with other recreation areas that are closer to the metropolitan areas, these easy to get to destinations can't escape the modern day graffiti of having people carve their initials into the rocks and trees. In the future we hope the National Park Services will add warning signs to deter this behavior... through education, perhaps people will learn to appreciate and protect their natural resources, so other travelers gets to enjoy what we have enjoyed throughout the years. Otherwise, one day there won't be anythng for our children to enjoy but concret playgrounds...
Tips: hike when it’s cold and snowy; no more bugs in the narrows and the cave, you are free to explore without fear of having a spider in your hair. In winter, wear snow/ice traction aids, the trail may get slippery when wet.
Distance: 1-2 miles roundtrip
Elevation: 1100 feet
Gain/Loss ~50 feet
Rating: 6 out of 10 (8 out of 10 when it snows)
1) Midway between Cleveland and Columbus (off Rt 70) is Mohican State Park. The park offers brown trout fishing and hiking. Take the trailhead next to the covered bridge where the sign is and the trail will take you to 2 waterfalls. The waterfalls are especially beautiful in winter but traction devices on shoes are almost mandatory.
2) South of Colombus is another hilly area called Hocking Hills. There are many good hikes in the area. These 2 pictures were taken at Conkles Hollow.