The Cuyahoga Gorge Trail

The Cuyahoga River rises on the Glaciated Appalachian Plateau of northeastern Geauga County, in northeast Ohio.  Though its headwaters are within 30 miles of Lake Erie, the river tumbles southwestward, passing through Portage County before reaching Akron, in Summit County.  There it curves westward through northern Akron where it has carved a scenic gorge in the Carboniferous bedrock; Cuyahogo Falls once graced this gorge but now lies beneath a lake created when a hydroelectric dam was completed in 1912.  Beyond its gorge, the Cuyahoga flows northward through its broad, deep valley where it is protected within a National Park before reaching Cleveland and Lake Erie.

Gorge Metropark offers a fine trail network on the north wall of the Cuyahoga Gorge.  Its upper limb leads along massive cliffs of Sharon Sandstone and Conglomerate (Pennsylvanian in age), sitting atop Meadville Shale (deposited during the Mississippian Period); in several areas, the softer shale has eroded away beneath the sandstone and conglomerate, creating spectacular recessed caves.  Beneath these sheer rock cliffs, a rich, mixed forest spreads down to the whitewater stretch of the Cuyahoga beneath the dam.  The lower section of the Gorge Trail loop, snakes above the turbulent River, providing overlooks along the way.

The natural beauty of the Cuyahoga Gorge, now accessed by a well-constructed trail network is marred only by the hydroelectric dam and its man-made falls.  Though a source of clean energy, the dam has long changed the ecology of the River and the tranquility of its magnificent chasm.

Addendum:  Shortly after completing this post, I learned from my brother-in-law (a native of Northeastern Ohio) that the Gorge dam will soon be demolished.  Great news for all who care about the health of our rivers and the latest major step in the rebirth of the Cuyahoga!