I consider it a point of pride that I’ve hiked “every trail” in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park (you’ll see why I put some of those words in quotation marks, shortly). Seriously though, I made a quest of it for a couple of years, and I thought I finished around this time last year. My quest included all of the trails officially maintained by the National Park Service. But it also included quite a few others that I found on alternate maps and just while wandering throughout the park.
Still, I hear about secret caves and waterfalls every now and then — and as soon as I become aware of such hidden gems, these destinations become highly intriguing to me. Not too long ago, I heard about a waterfall called Buttermilk Falls. So this afternoon, on a beautiful October day, I decided to set out with my children to “discover” this location.
Blue Hen Falls is a pretty well-known location in the Cuyahoga Valley. It’s a pretty little waterfall, just a quarter of a mile from a parking lot — so even casual hikers can get a lot of “bang” for very little “buck.” But where the official trail to Blue Hen Falls ends, the unofficial trail to Buttermilk Falls begins, largely following the creek as it tumbles downstream.
It’s only about three-quarters of a mile to get from Blue Hen Falls to Buttermilk Falls — and there’s enough of a trail that we never worried about getting lost — but we did have to cross the stream several times. A few sections of “trail” were quite muddy and steep. We lost the trail a few times and found ourselves in thorny patches of briers and burrs.
But eventually, we made it to Buttermilk Falls, and I have to say it’s even more impressive than Blue Hen Falls. Probably twice the height, with a very different sort of stair-step effect (as opposed to the pure free-fall of Blue Hen Falls). We also had Buttermilk Falls completely to ourselves, whereas Blue Hen Falls was overwhelmed with people taking pictures of every angle. It really was a hidden gem, and I’m glad we found it.
If you know of any other “secret” locations in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, which are off the beaten path but still worth some bush-whacking, I’d love to know what you know (feel free to look me up via any of the Social Media profiles listed to the right >>>). I also love to serve as a hike-master for other friends who are looking to discover the Park for themselves. Just let me know, and we can keep digging up treasures together.