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Know Ohio: Take a Hike Around Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Ohio is happy to be home to Cuyahoga Valley National Park. It is roughly 33,000 acres and spans from Cleveland all the way to Akron. People can go hiking, biking, and visit the various nature centers, waterfalls and cave systems. CVNP is one of Ohio’s many vast parks systems and has activities for everyone to enjoy.

The area was set aside to keep growing cities from erasing the natural beauty and local wildlife. Mary takes us on a tour of some of the park's top features including the path along the Ohio Erie Canal, the geology of Richie Ledges, and animal-built Beaver Marsh.

Class Discussion Questions:

1) If you have been there before, what is your favorite activity to do in Cuyahoga Valley National Park? (If not, you should check it out!)

2) If you could be one of the animals found in the national park, which would you be and why?

Read the Script:

[Mary] California has nine, Alaska has eight, Utah has five and Ohio has one. Can you guess what I'm talking about? National Parks of course. A National Park is a historic or scenic area of land protected by the Federal Government.

Ours is called the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. It's a whopping 33,000 acres and stretches along the Cuyahoga River between Cleveland and Akron. At first, the area was designated as a national recreation area by President Gerald Ford and Congress in 1974. At the time cities were expanding and folks wanted to be sure the area was kept wild.

Then in the year 2000, the spot was re-designated as a National Park by president Bill Clinton. Let's take a tour. Throughout the park are the remains of the Ohio and Erie Canal, a major transportation system in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

- And we are ridding exactly where the mules would pull the boats up the Erie Canal. It's really cool.

[Mary] Today you can hike and bike the route of the old canal on the Towpath Trail. This 87-mile trail extends all the way from Cleveland through the park and down to Boulevard. The trail attracts more than 2.5 million hikers and bikers per year, along the trail, our visitor centers, where you can learn about the history of the canal.

Another park attraction is the Brandywine Falls. The 60-foot waterfall is one of the most popular places to visit, especially during the warmer months. There's also a trail that goes around the falls and underneath them where visitors can view the falls head-on. Pretty cool.

How about a stop at Richie Ledges. Here you can see the Park's geology up close. Covered in thick moss and fern the ledges are massive walls of rock. The result of sand and quartz pebbles that were left behind by the rivers and seas that covered the area millions of years ago.

All right, one last stop Beaver Marsh. This part of the park used to be less than scenic. Before it became part of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, there was an auto repair shop there. So instead of birds and wildlife, the land was covered with rusty mufflers and dented bumpers. To clean up the area, people had to team up with some furry friends. Beavers built a system of dams which in turn helped bring water back into the area and created a new wetland. Today the beavers can still be spotted in the home they helped to build along with some diverse wild neighbors.

And luckily we can all visit their neighborhood and so many more stunning natural treasures in Ohio's one and only National Park.