words and photos by Anthony Boarman
The Cuyahoga Valley National Park’s Tree Farm Trail flies under the radar in comparison to some of the more popular destinations within the park, but that is what I enjoy most about it. This 2.75 mile loop trail offers a little bit of everything to fulfill a wide range of visitors’ interests.
Tree Farm Trail sits slightly south of the center of the park in Peninsula, but it’s an easy drive from Akron. Just make sure to watch out for the speed trap on Riverview Road right before Deep Lock Quarry MetroPark (trust me, I know by experience). The parking lot is small, which says a lot about how many people you will encounter on the trail. Granted, my visits have been during the winter time, but I have only come across a few other people. There is nothing better than feeling like you have the trail to yourself.
Once you park, you walk down a short path to Horseshoe Pond. Beautiful pine and spruce trees surround this small body of water, which is also a great place to catch some fish and the sunrise. You can enter either end of the trail on the right side of Horseshoe Pond. I made the mistake of hanging a left at Horseshoe Pond my first time there and ended up getting lost. Just ask my wife, my sense of direction isn’t the greatest.
What is great about this trail is that it is wide and it gains elevation incrementally, which allows for an enjoyable experience if you’re not looking for a rigorous hike or if you have little ones with you that tire quickly. It’s also a favorite for trail runners and cross country skiers. After a heavy rain or during a winter thaw, this trail gets sloppy, so be ready to get dirty!
What has drawn me here so many times recently are the stands of hardwoods that you get to experience. Two sections of the trail are so densely populated with these trees that you feel like you’re in a tunnel, or somewhere more exciting than Northeast Ohio, for that matter. Another perk is that you get to experience Christmas year round here. A portion of Tree Farm Trail (hence its name) was acquired from the Bishop family Christmas tree farm. Through vast field, trees of all different shapes and sizes can be seen growing for future Christmas displays in homes across the area.
If you haven’t had a chance to experience this gem, check it out during your next visit to our National Park.
Tree Farm Trail is located at 2167 Major Road in Peninsula.
Anthony Boarman is a social studies teacher and coach at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School. He lives in Wallhaven with his wife Emily and his dog Ava. He is a lover of all things Akron. To check out more of his work, follow Anthony on Instagram at @aboarman.