MetroParks, Serving Summit County
Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio (Summit County)
Park at the Gorge MetroPark paved parking lot on Front Street in Cuyahoga Falls, just north of the bridge over the Cuyahoga River at the Akron Border.
- Length: 1.8
- Duration: 2 hours. Surface: natural, uneven, can be muddy or icy at times.
- Type: hiking loop trail.
- Difficulty: moderate
- Accessibility: No. (Stairs, uneven surfaces, narrow trail)
The Gorge Trail lies above the north bank of the Cuyahoga River at the furthest southern reach of the river. After the river flows through the gorge, it heads back north to Lake Erie. The major features along the trail are sharon conglomerate ledges which dominate the scene for most of the length of the trail. When hiking this trail, you will notice a number of features along the way. One of the more common phenomena is “pudding stone” which appears as small round stones embedded within the sandstone of the ledges, giving the rocks the appearance of a chunky english pudding.
The trail winds its way among the broken up rocks that have fallen from the ledges over the years. Muddy areas in the trail are caused by numberous seeps and springs. These springs are formed when the water, which flows through the porous sandstone, meets the relatively impermeable shale which lies beneath the sandstone ledges. The shale is formed of compressed and hardened clay, and will not let the water sink any further into the earth, so the water is forced to travel horizontally along the shale until it reaches an edge, hence the springs and seeps that are common at the base of sandstone ledges.
After the trail passes by Mary Cambell Cave, it crosses some small streams, and heads uphill until you are near the top of the ledges. In this area, the trail goes through several rock crevices.
Soon, you will hike downhill with the help of a newly constructed set of wooden stairs. At this point, the trail turns back toward the parking lot. This section of trail is closer to the river. From here you will have the opportunity to see rapids on the river, as well as get a different perspective on the ledges at the top of the gorge.
The forests along the trail are composed mainly of oaks (Quercus spp.) but there is a smattering of birches (Betula spp.) and Canadian hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) as well. The birches and hemlocks need a cool environment, and the ledges with their numerous seeps and their shade provide this.
As you hike, the roar of the water rushing over the dam is everpresent. Now, you will see the dam from its most impressive side. At the very bottom of the dam is the last cascade of the Big Falls, for which Cuyahoga Falls is named. (The falls still present near downtown Cuyahoga Falls are the Little Falls.) This small cascade is the only visible portion of the Big Falls, as the remainder of the falls is now under the lake created by the dam before you.
From the dam it is just a short walk back to the parking lot and the end of the loop trail. You will pass by a small picnic area, as well as a field which in winter is flooded and used for ice skating.
Keep dogs on leash at all times. No Rock Climbing. Park Closes at 11 pm, but the Gorge Trail closes at dusk.