by Anthony Boarman
I grew up in Northeast Ohio and for about 30 years, I did not take advantage of or appreciate all that we have around us. Then, a few years ago, my girlfriend (now wife) Emily and I started to frequent the local parks. We started out walking the Summit MetroPark trails, and then we saw what Cuyahoga Valley National Park was all about. These occasional walks led to daily or weekly hikes, and eventually we started finding off-trail destinations and I gained an interest in photography.
One hike that will always be special to me is from Blue Hen Falls to the lesser known Buttermilk Falls. Blue Hen Falls, which is a short .5 mile walk from your car, is one of the CVNP’s most popular destinations. This waterfall is unique for its Berea Sandstone overhang that creates a cave-like area behind the waterfall. Water from Spring Creek crashes down 15 feet onto Bedford Shale, bringing together two of Northeast Ohio’s most famous rock formations. You can enjoy the waterfall from above at the wooden fence or sitting on the park bench, but many choose to enjoy Blue Hen’s beauty with their feet touching the Bedford Shale in the creek below. Some of the greatest views and photographs come from that perspective.
Your adventure isn’t over yet. A small brown sign posted just beyond the fence and bench above the falls reads “Trail Ends Here,” leading some to believe that there is nothing else to see. One of the best destinations in the CVNP is less than a mile away, but it is not advertised. If you love getting your feet wet, just follow the creek at the bottom of Blue Hen. If you prefer keeping your shoes dry, there is a worn, unmarked foot trail just beyond the “Trail Ends Here” sign. Follow the creek or foot trail for about 3/4 of a mile and you will find yourself at the top of Buttermilk Falls, a 30-foot cascading waterfall made of Bedford Shale that drops down into a small gorge area. This destination has become more popular over the years, but there is still a good chance that you will be the only person there to enjoy it, allowing you to fully appreciate the beauty of our local parks.
Anthony Boarman is a social studies teacher and coach at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School. He lives in West Akron with his wife Emily and his dog Ava. He is a lover of all things Akron and enjoys being around dogs more than humans.
(Photo provided by Anthony Boarman)