Activities For Dogs In Cuyahoga Valley National Park

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Introduction

Unlike many other National Parks that have significant restrictions on where dogs can go and what they are allowed to do, Cuyahoga Valley National Park is exceptionally open, allowing dogs to join their owners on all 125 miles of trails that crisscross the park, coursing through woods, wetlands, fields and streams. As such, this gorgeous midwestern park provides ample space to explore through hiking, camping, snowshoeing and even fishing throughout the length of the year, each season with its own views, options and of course, weather. So if you're in north-central Ohio and looking for a place to get a piece of nature with your canine companion, we've got you covered.

Tour the Falls

Popular
0 Votes
Any Day
Free
Easy
2 - 3 hrs
Items needed
Leash
Dog Bags
Water
Camera
Map
Activity description
While Cuyahoga Valley National Park is replete with natural beauty, one of its greatest and most sought-after attractions is its series of waterfalls. Now, they may not be giant, but that doesn't take away from the fact that they are simply gorgeous and worth visiting for that alone. There are three main falls in the park: Bridal Veil, Brandywine and Blue Hen, all of which are worth seeing. They can be seen all times of the year and although summer may offer the best weather, fall is easily the most breathtaking, as the multi-colored leaves saturate the surroundings. Touring the falls is easy and better yet, also free.
Step
1
Planning
Before we launch into planning, we'd like to emphasize something: this park is free. Yes, free. While many others do charge with reason, Cuyahoga does not. If you can afford it, support the park system by buying an annual national pass or goodies at one of the visitor centers. While you're at the visitor center, pick up a physical map of the park so you can start to map out your visit. There are several ways in and out of the park, so you'll likely want to pick a starting point. We suggest starting at Blue Hen, as it's right nearby the Boston Store Visitor Center, then heading up to Brandywine and finally, Bridal Veil.
Step
2
The hike
From the Boston Store Visitors Center, you'll need to head west across the river on the Buckeye Trail to reach Blue Hen Falls, which is only about a mile away (and don't forget to stop along the way to take in the beauty or snap pictures!). Head back past your starting point and continue east about two miles to get to Brandywine Falls. From here, you have a decision to make. For those with a lot of time and energy, you can walk north and then east on trails for about 9 miles to reach Bridal Veil, the final destination. Otherwise, a quick car ride should have you there is no time. Consider the weather and timing (and lighting, if taking pictures) as well as your and your dog's abilities before making the decision. You can always drive half way, then grab a trail to hike the remainder.
Step
3
Enjoy
Once you've got your path outlined, add in a few extra stops, such as picnic areas and other picturesque points in between the falls. Make sure to leave enough time for detours if something strikes your fancy. Beyond all else, enjoy yourselves! Cuyahoga Valley is a perfect place to get some exercise, spend time together with your furry friend and even get in some great photos. Be sure to bring the appropriate gear for you and your dog such as a first aid kit, food, and water for hydration.
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Gone Fishin'

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Sunny Day
Cheap
Easy
45 - 180 min
Items needed
Fishing Rod
Lures
Leash
Dog Bags
Towels
Activity description
If hiking isn't your thing or you just want another reason to get out and enjoy the park, consider doing a fishing tour in some of Cuyahoga's beautiful water features. Although you will have to pay for a fishing license beforehand if you don't have one, costs are limited to supply costs thanks to the fact that the park is free, and with the help of your trusty navigator dog and a map, you should have no trouble finding several good spots to fish. That makes it an easy and cheap activity you can do any time of the year - they even allow ice fishing after the lakes form 7 inches of ice!
Step
1
Review the regulations
Before you even start to plan your trip, you should first get familiar with the state and park laws that exist in regards to fishing. Certain spots have specific restrictions while others are much more lax. For instance, it's universally prohibited to use live bait, fish from a motor bridge or in areas designated for other water-based activities but only illegal to take bass from Kendall Lake from March 15 to May 31. Make sure to learn them top to bottom before planning your trip to prevent any potential issues.
Step
2
Pick your spot
Once you're familiar with the restrictions, get yourself a detailed digital or paper map and start to plan out your trip. The park's website has a hefty list of spots but for quick reference, there is Armington Pond, Brushwood Lake, Coonrad Farm Pond, Goosefeather Pond, Horseshoe Pond, Indigo Lake, Kendall Lake, plus Sylvan and Meadowedge Ponds, but you can also fish in Cuyahoga River as well, all of which yield up to 65 varieties of fish, including trout, bullhead, bluegill, bass and crappie. Start by looking at your map and choosing a grouping of lakes based on proximity, such as Kendall and Armington or Goosefeather and Horseshoe. You'll still be able to get some hiking in between them (which should help tire your dog out as well), but if your main mission is fishing, keep your choices in one local area.
Step
3
Fish
Once you've read the regulations and chosen a few close-together ponds and lakes, you just need to grab your supplies and go! The park does promote and prefer catch-and-release fishing to help maintain healthy populations but they will allow fisherman to take fish throughout the year (you'll know this according to location and fish type by the regulations you read). They do warn not to over-consume fish from the river, however. When all is said and done, you and your furry friend will have plenty of hiking, just as much fishing and a ton of fun in the process.
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Canoeing

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Sunny Day
Cheap
Easy
45 - 180 min
Items needed
Canoe or Kayak
Leash
Dog Bags
Towels
Life Vests (human and canine)
Activity description
While fishing will certainly help you take advantage of the park's water features, for the adventurous types, it may not be enough. If that happens to be the case, consider going canoeing or kayaking with your dog. There is plenty of space to do so, as these crafts are allowed in the parks ponds and lakes as well as on the Cuyahoga River itself, while motorized boats are not, keeping both the safety and fun factors high. You will need life vests to comply with state law, but otherwise, you can choose your own adventure. It can be done most times of the year and provides a cheap and unique way to take in the park's natural beauty with your best buddy at your side.
Step
1
Check the conditions
Before you commit to taking a kayaking or canoeing trip, you'll need to take a few steps first. If you're an Ohio resident, you'll want to make sure your craft is registered. For out of state visitors, make sure to have some proof of residency to get around this rule. Second, you'll want to check the weather to make sure it's appropriate for the type of paddling you plan to do. Third, you'll want to check the conditions, especially of the river, as its height and water flow can have significant impact on the success and experience overall. This can be as simple as calling someone within the park system or even just calling local businesses who specialize in it, such as Crooked River Adventures.
Step
2
Secure your supplies
Once you've done all the research, it's time to get all of your supplies in order. If you're looking to take a shorter trip, you may not need much but if you plan to be out for a while, it's best to pack enough food and water for the trip (let alone sunscreen if it's hot and sunny!). Don't forget to get properly-sized life vests for both you and your dog as well. Before you depart, you'll also want to find an appropriate launch point, so check your map or call someone in the park system to find appropriate places to push off from.
Step
3
Doggy paddle!
Once you've got everything in order you can hit the road. Make sure not to forget dog bags and a leash to comply with the park's regulations as well. Upon arrival, find your launch point, and put the boat in the water at a shallow entry point. Make sure that your dog is secure and comfortable in the canoe. If your pup is an experienced canoe passenger, venture as you like. If this is your first time out as a pair, stay close to shore for the duration.
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More Fun Ideas...

Camp Out

If there's just not enough time in the day to experience everything you'd like to in the park, consider planning for a second day or even more by camping overnight. Not only will it help get you more in touch with the park and nature, but provide more time to explore and experience all they have to offer.

Try Canalway Questing

Questing is somewhat unique to Cuyahoga and provides a great way to experience the park as a whole. Rhyming clues and maps lead you from trail to trail and area to area, each of which has a collectible stamp and logbook, leading you all over the park.

Conclusion

While Cuyahoga Valley National Park may not be the most famous or first stop on anyone's list, this incredible underdog park provides plenty of activities and jaw-dropping natural beauty for any visitors lucky or smart enough to happen upon it. Plus, if there's any benefit it holds beyond most others of its type, it's definitely the park's dog-friendliness, as it's lax rules and species-acceptant policies provide a gorgeous natural space for you and your canine companion to explore throughout the year.