Ledges Trail: One of the Best in Cuyahoga Valley!

The Ledges Trail and cliffs near Ice Box Cave, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio
The trail and cliffs near Ice Box Cave

If there’s one trail in Cuyahoga Valley National Park that you shouldn’t miss, it’s the Ledges Trail.  Besides being a nice hike in its own merit, it showcases what some would call “bluffage” – huge rocks and cliff faces, often with fun cracks, caves, and even balancing rocks and arches.  The Ledges Trail takes you to quite a few interesting features along its cliffs, so it’s well worth the time to drive from the main part of the park to the trailhead.

Quick Stats

Round Trip Length: 3.0 miles Trail Type: Lollipop loop Elevation Gain: 663ft. Pets: Leashed Fees: None

Ferns in a cleft in one of the cliff walls along the Ledges Trail, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio
Ferns in a cleft in one of the cliff walls

The trail begins as a paved old road.  Pass by the lodge.  The road becomes dirt and arrives at a four-way junction about a quarter mile from the trailhead.  Despite the sign saying to turn right for the Ledges Trail, we continued straight.  If you’re looking for the fastest, see-the-best-stuff hike, you’d want to turn right here and then left on the Ledges Trail.  However, we decided to drop down into the middle of the best section of cliffs via the Stone Steps and catch the rest of the best features of the trail on our way back.

About halfway down the Stone Steps on the Ledges Trail, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio
About halfway down the Stone Steps

Continue straight and downhill on the old road; the next trail junction is a T about a tenth of a mile later.  Turn right here to descend the “stone steps.”  I’m guessing these were constructed either by the CCCs (who did extensive work in the area) or else by German POWs during WWII – nearby stone walls seem to have a similar origin.  Either way, it’s a fun and beautiful addition to the hike.

This stone fence along the old road reminds me of POW work in Letchworth State Park, New York.  Ledges Trail, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio
This stone fence along the old road reminds me of POW work in Letchworth State Park, New York

At the bottom of the Stone Steps, we turned left.  There are some nice cliffs and “bluffage” in this area, though nothing spectacular.

Ferns high above the Ledges Trail, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio
Ferns high above the trail

A short distance later, a trail goes off on the right.  We misinterpreted the sign and turned right toward Happy Days (as in Happy Days Lodge).  We walked a tenth of a mile to the Haskell Run Junction and then left another tenth of a mile down to Haskell Run before hearing traffic and realizing our mistake.  So then it was a quick uphill trek back to the Ledges Trail.  (All that to say: go straight/left at this junction and you won’t walk an extra half mile!)

A millipede I found along our accidental trail extension, Haskell Run, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio
A millipede I found along our accidental trail extension

About a tenth of a mile after the junction for Happy Days Lodge, pass a trail on the left (this would take you back up to the top of the Stone Steps).  But this is a great tenth of a mile!  The bluffage is spectacular, and there’s even a cleft in the rock that will allow you to explore more fully.  Take your time – it’s a great area!

The fun little crevice in the cliffs along the Ledges Trail, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio
The fun little crevice in the cliffs

Two more trails go off over the next 0.3 miles before the next major junction on the right pointing toward the Octagon Shelter and the viewpoint 2/3 of a mile straight ahead (the side trails would take you either right down toward the Octagon Road or else left up to the top of the cliffs).  At this major junction, walk up the stairs and straight ahead toward the Viewpoint.

Hiking along the western part of the Ledges Trail, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio
Hiking along the western part of the loop

This next section was not my favorite; while there are still cliffs, they’re not as spectacular as what you’ve seen up to this point.  About half a mile beyond the last of the Octagon signs, the Pine Grove Trail strikes off to the right.  Take the Ledges Trail left toward the viewpoint.

Texture in the cliff face along the Ledges Trail, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio
Texture in the cliff face

Less than a tenth of a mile later, turn left up the steep trail to the Overlook.  Actually, you could take a slightly gentler slope by going straight on the Ledges Trail and turning left a short distance later.  But we trusted the signs and struck left up to the overlook.  It’s not too hard to find the overlook, even if there are several trails converging on each other from multiple directions in the area.

Communication towers and the view from the Overlook along the Ledges Trail, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio
Communication towers and the view from the Overlook

Views from the overlook aren’t what I’d call epic, but they’re not bad, either.  Various rows of hills are visible as well as a few communication towers and a few buildings.  To be honest, it’s a little grown in; walk around to find the best places to see over and around the trees.  The park must trim back the trees from time to time or else the view would be completely obscured.

Clouds and views from the Overlook.  It reminds me of driving I-80 in western New Jersey!  Ledges Trail, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio
Clouds and views from the Overlook. It reminds me of driving I-80 in western New Jersey!

The next tricky part was getting back on the Ledges Trail.  We could have retraced our steps down the steep hill; instead, we went up to the picnic table and turned right, following the sign for Ice Box Cave.  Whatever you do, don’t be tempted to walk out into the field that’s visible through the trees and via a trail – walking across the field would take you straight back to the parking lot.  We hadn’t yet seen the best of the bluffage/cliffs yet, so we took the trail down to cross the road and into the forest beyond.

The white-tailed deer (a buck!) along the Ledges Trail, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio
The white-tailed deer (a buck!)

The forest section definitely is not the most interesting part of the loop.  We did see a few deer; unfortunately, my camera had been acting up most of the afternoon, so I didn’t get the best shots.  (The lens would fall apart completely the next day on the Towpath, but a trip to Walmart for a tiny screwdriver fixed the issue – yay!)  At long last, the cliffs begin to appear in profusion.

Tree roots on a mossy boulder along the Ledges Trail, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio
Tree roots on a mossy boulder

Arrive at a trail junction about half a mile from the road crossing.  This marks the beginning of the best part of the Ledges Trail.  The cliffs are impressive, several areas allow for exploration, the trees overhang the mossy boulders – wow!

Icebox Cave along the Ledges Trail, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio
Icebox Cave

A tenth of a mile after the trail junction, a side trail on the left leads to Ice Box Cave.  You can’t go inside (to protect the bats), but the area outside of the cave is pretty.

Inside Icebox Cave - I poked my camera lens up to the grate to get this shot.  Ledges Trail, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio
Inside Icebox Cave – I poked my camera lens up to the grate to get this shot

Another exploration area after the cave combines mossy boulders with trees, ferns, and bluffage.  It’s incredible to me just how sheer some of these cliffs can be!

One of the most interesting areas of the Ledges Trail.  I couldn't capture the cliffs and boulders. Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio
One of the most interesting areas of the Ledges Trail. I couldn’t capture the cliffs and boulders.

A short 0.3 miles after Ice Box Cave, return to the bottom of the Stone Steps.  This is the end of the loop portion of the trail, so turn left up the stairs, left at the top to ascend the old road, and finally pass the Ledges Shelter and back to the parking lot.

The sun over some of the sheer cliffs shortly before returning to the Stone Steps on the Ledges Trail, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio
The sun over some of the sheer cliffs shortly before returning to the Stone Steps

Overall, I hiked 3.6 miles (which means it’s probably about 3.0 miles without the detour down Haskell Run).  We did a little bit of exploring among the boulders and cliffs and sat for a few minutes up near the Overlook to have a snack.  It’s a hike I’d totally do again if I happened to be in the area!

A tree up on top of the cliffs along the Ledges Trail, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio
A tree up on top of the cliffs

Round Trip Trail Length: About 3 miles

Elevation Gain: 663ft. (1,055ft. to 941ft.)

Facilities: Restrooms at the trailhead; picnic tables and (possible) restrooms near the overlook

Fees: None

Ferns and mossy boulders along the Ledges Trail, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio
Ferns and mossy boulders

Trail Notes: I’d say the Ledges Trail is one of the gems of Cuyahoga Valley National Park.  (The Tow Path would also get this stamp of approval if you like to bicycle.)  Wear good shoes, as the trail surface can be rough around the cliffs.  Be sure to poke into the cliff areas – but keep an eye on your hands and feet (you don’t want to meet a snake or spider by accident!)  The term “bluffage” was, as far as I can tell, coined by Hiking with Shawn, a great site about hiking in Shawnee National Forest and state parks in southern Illinois.  If you want a short-but-all-the-best hike, go to the first trail junction and turn right.  Once on the Ledges Trail, turn left, walk around past the Stone Steps, and then ascend via the trail that takes you up to the top of the Stone Steps.  Turn right back up the old road to return to the parking lot.  RT milage would be about 1.2 miles.

Looking into the crevice in the cliffs, Ledges Trail, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio
Looking into the crevice in the cliffs

Trail ★

Road ★

Signs ★

Scenery ★

Would I go 100 miles out of my way for this? ★

Overall Rating: ★

Moss and ferns on cliffs along the Ledges Trail, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio
Moss and ferns

GPS Coordinates for the Ledges Trail

Trailhead: 41.2236310°, -081.5101690° (41°13.41786′, -081°30.61014′ / 41°13’25.0716″, -081°30’36.6084″) (1,053ft.) (0.0)

Four-way Trail junction: 41.2266540°, -081.5101810° (41°13.59924′, -081°30.61086′ / 41°13’35.9544″, -081°30’36.6516″) (1,031ft.) (0.22)

Happy Junction: 41.2283780°, -081.5107520° (41°13.70268′, -081°30.64512′ / 41°13’42.1608″, -081°30’38.7072″) (999ft.) (0.35)

Bottom of stairs: 41.2284660°, -081.5098850° (41°13.70796′, -081°30.59310′ / 41°13’42.4776″, -081°30’35.5860″) (951ft.) (0.45)

Happy Junction: 41.2287980°, -081.5106710° (41°13.72788′, -081°30.64026′ / 41°13’43.6728″, -081°30’38.4156″) (946ft.) (0.51)

Haskill Run Junction: 41.2295240°, -081.5098550° (41°13.77144′, -081°30.59130′ / 41°13’46.2864″, -081°30’35.4780″) (876ft.) (0.60)

The rocky wall inside of a crevice along the Ledges Trail, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio
The rocky wall inside of a crevice

Trail Junction: 41.2282160°, -081.5119140° (41°13.69296′, -081°30.71484′ / 41°13’41.5776″, -081°30’42.8904″) (965ft.) (1.16)

Trail Junction: 41.2267550°, -081.5127760° (41°13.60530′, -081°30.76656′ / 41°13’36.3180″, -081°30’45.9936″) (990ft.) (1.30)

Trail Junction: 41.2263170°, -081.5127880° (41°13.57902′, -081°30.76728′ / 41°13’34.7412″, -081°30’46.0368″) (1,004ft.) (1.33)

Oct. Parking Trail Junction: 41.2257960°, -081.5133510° (41°13.54776′, -081°30.80106′ / 41°13’32.8656″, -081°30’48.0636″) (978ft.) (1.39)

Pine G. Junction: 41.2194810°, -081.5117750° (41°13.16886′, -081°30.70650′ / 41°13’10.1316″, -081°30’42.3900″) (985ft.) (1.89)

Overlook Junction: 41.2196260°, -081.5113940° (41°13.17756′, -081°30.68364′ / 41°13’10.6536″, -081°30’41.0184″) (1,007ft.) (1.92)

Overlook: 41.2203780°, -081.5120950° (41°13.22268′, -081°30.72570′ / 41°13’13.3608″, -081°30’43.5420″) (1,040ft.) (1.99)

Ferns in profusion along the Ledges Trail, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio
Ferns in profusion

Trail Junction: 41.2208050°, -081.5119550° (41°13.24830′, -081°30.71730′ / 41°13’14.8980″, -081°30’43.0380″) (1,047ft.) (2.20)

Cross road: 41.2209440°, -081.5102820° (41°13.25664′, -081°30.61692′ / 41°13’15.3984″, -081°30’37.0152″) (1,020ft.) (2.31)

Trail Junction: 41.2255800°, -081.5081170° (41°13.53480′, -081°30.48702′ / 41°13’32.0880″, -081°30’29.2212″) (980ft.) (2.80)

Ice Box Cave: 41.2262540°, -081.5083790° (41°13.57524′, -081°30.50274′ / 41°13’34.5144″, -081°30’30.1644″) (968ft.) (2.93)

Return to stairs: 41.2283560°, -081.5100140° (41°13.70136′, -081°30.60084′ / 41°13’42.0816″, -081°30’36.0504″) (963ft.) (3.22)

End: 41.2236410°, -081.5101510° (41°13.41846′, -081°30.60906′ / 41°13’25.1076″, -081°30’36.5436″) (1,053ft.) (3.61)

A tree on a boulder along the cliffs, Ledges Trail, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio
A tree on a boulder along the cliffs

The gpx file for the Ledges Trail can be downloaded – please note that this and the GPS Coordinates are for reference only and should not be used as a sole resource when hiking this trail.

Download GPX File size: 58.8 KB Downloaded 34 times

(Note: I do my best to ensure that all downloads, the webpage, etc. are virus-free and accurate; however, I cannot be held responsible for any damage that might result, including but not limited to loss of data, damages to hardware, harm to users, from use of files, information, etc. from this website.  Thanks!)

Looking into another crevice in the cliffs along the Ledges Trail, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio
Looking into another crevice in the cliffs

Getting to the Ledges Trailhead

From I-80, take Exit 180 toward OH-8 and Akron.  Merge onto OH-8S (Akron, Boston Mills Road, and Hines Mill Road).  After 2.5 miles, take Exit 12 toward Akron-Cleveland Road.  Cross OH-303 to continue straight on Akron-Cleveland Road; 0.9 miles later, turn right onto Kendall Park Road.  After a mile (just after passing a national park sign; another sign points right toward Ledges), turn right for 0.3 miles up to the large parking area that is the Ledges Trailhead.

Ferns above the Stone Steps, Ledges Trail, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio
Ferns above the Stone Steps

From I-271, take Exit 12 toward OH-303, Richfield, and Peninsula.  Turn right onto OH-303E.  After 2.1 miles, turn right onto Akron-Peninsula Road (S Locust Street) and stay on Akron-Peninsula Road for another mile.  Turn left onto Truxell Road for 2.1 miles and then continue a short distance straight on Kendall Park Road.  (You likely won’t notice this change of road names.)  At the sign for Ledges, turn left for 0.3 miles up to the large parking area that is the Ledges Trailhead.

A visual trail map and elevation profile for my trek on the Ledges Trail, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio
A visual trail map and elevation profile for my trek on the Ledges Trail

For a better map, visit the NPS’s Maps page.  Scroll to the map for the Ledges Trail.

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