Julie United States 4 Comments

In Cuyahoga Valley National Park, there are many short hikes to choose from. The Ledges Trail is our favorite hike in the park.

This is a beautiful hike, and it is a much different experience from the other hikes that we did in Cuyahoga Valley. For most of this hike, the trail follows along massive walls of moss-covered sandstone, aka the Ledges. As the trail loops around these massive walls, the view is always changing, which helps keep things interesting.

There are alcoves to explore and even a few slot canyon-ish sections that you can walk through. If you are visiting with kids, they will love climbing on the boulders and exploring the nooks and crannies along the Ledges.

This is one of the best experiences in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Here’s how to do it.

Ledges Trail Hiking Stats

Distance: 2.6 mile lollipop loop hike
Difficulty: Moderate
Total Ascent: 300 feet
Length of Time: 1 to 2 hours

Please practice the seven principles of Leave No Trace: plan ahead, stay on the trail, pack out what you bring to the hiking trail, properly dispose of waste, leave areas as you found them, minimize campfire impacts, be considerate of other hikers, and do not approach or feed wildlife.

About the Ledges Trail

320 million years ago, this area was a swamp. Stream beds deposited sand and pebbles from the swamp, which were compacted and formed into what is called Sharon Conglomerate. Over time, erosion carved out the rock, forming the ledges that we see today.

This trail loops around these cliffs, which are also called the Ritchie Ledges.

How to Hike the Ledges Trail

Step-By-Step Trail Guide

Getting to the Trailhead

The trailhead is located in the Virginia Kendall area of the park. Park at the very large Ledges Trailhead parking lot. There are restrooms here.

On the Ledges Trail

From the parking lot, look for the large trail sign near the entrance to the parking lot. This is the trailhead for the Ledges Trail.

The trail starts off as a paved road that soon transitions into a wide, gravel road.

In 0.2 miles, there will be a trail junction. Take the trail to the right to continue on the Ledges Trail (there will be a small, metal sign here labeling the Ledges Trail).

Almost immediately you will come to your first view of the Ledges. There is an overlook where you can look down at a cleft in the cliffs that resembles a slot canyon.

Ledges Viewpoint

Just beyond this point, you arrive at the loop trail. You can hike this in either direction, but we recommend doing it in a clockwise direction. If you do it in this direction, it saves some of the most scenic sections for the end of the hike.

The loop is 1.8 miles long and is well-marked with small metal trail signs along the entire distance.

As you circle around the Ledges, there are a few ups and downs, but nothing too strenuous.

The first part of the loop is the least exciting, as you head away from the ledges and the massive boulders that make this hike so scenic.

Ledges Trail

Ledges Trail


Just before completing the first mile, you will arrive at the Ledges Overlook. This is hailed as being one of the most scenic overlooks in Cuyahoga Valley National Park, so expect to share the view with other visitors. When we were here, an art class was going on and art students were capturing the scene on their easels.

Ledges Overlook

Ledges Overlook

For the remainder of the loop, you will hike alongside the massive rock walls. There are many photo-ops along the way. Here are some of our favorite photos.

Ledges Trail

Ledges Trail

Ledges Trail

Ledges Trail

Ledges Trail

Ledges Trail

Ledges Trail


Just before completing the loop, you will pass a long, stone staircase that leads up on top of the cliffs. Continue past this and look to your right for a break in the cliff walls. This leads into a large alcove that makes another great photo spot.

Ledges Trail

Hikes in Ohio

Things to do Cuyahoga Valley

Retrace your steps back onto the trail. The next landmark you will see is the Ice Box. As you cross the small wooden bridge, it’s impossible to miss the huge temperature change, as the temperature plummets here. This is the location of the Ice Cave, which was sealed off with a steel gate during our visit.

Once you reach the end of the loop, turn right to take the trail back to the parking lot.

Tips to Have the Best Experience

Leave No Trace. Practice the seven principles of Leave No Trace. This includes packing out what you bring to the hiking trail and be considerate of other hikers.

Hiking shoes are ideal (especially if it is wet or muddy), but you can get by with a good pair of walking shoes or running shoes for this hike.

If you plan to do this hike from late spring through early fall, consider bringing along mosquito repellent. The mosquitos weren’t too bad on this trail in late May, at least not compared to the Blue Hen Falls hike, but it might be worth having a small container of it…just in case.

If you are new to hiking or are curious about what you should bring on a hike, check out our Hiking Gear Guide. Find out what we carry in our day packs and what we wear on the trails.

If you have any questions about how to hike the Ledges Trail, let us know in the comment section below.

More Information for Your Trip to Ohio & the National Parks

CUYAHOGA VALLEY: Learn more about the best things to do and how to plan your visit to Cuyahoga Valley National Park in our article 14 Things to Do in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. If you only have one day to visit the park, learn more in our article One Perfect Day in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. 

NEW RIVER GORGE NATIONAL PARK: New River Gorge National Park is located in West Virginia and it is one of the newest US national parks. Learn about the best things to do in New River Gorge National Park. We also have a detailed day-by-day itinerary and a guide to the best hikes in New River Gorge.

GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK: Learn how to spend a weekend at Great Smoky Mountains National Park in our Weekend Getaway Guide to Gatlinburg and Great Smoky Mountains. Don’t miss our Guide to Hiking Mt. LeConte if you are looking for a great hike to do.

MAMMOTH CAVE: Mammoth Cave is a national park in Kentucky and it makes a great day trip from Louisville and Nashville.

NATIONAL PARKS: In our Guide to the US National Parks, get the full list of national parks with important travel planning information, such as things to do in the parks and sample itineraries. You can also learn more about the national parks and get a FREE printable checklist in our US National Parks Checklist.


Read all of our articles about the United States in our United States Travel Guide.


Ledges Trail Cuyahoga Valley Hike


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Comments 4

  1. Avatar for Daniel

    I’ve seen this listed as moderate. I’m going in April with my 8 year old and 3 year old. Would you recommend the whole loop or just starting counter clockwise to see the highlights?

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      With a 3 year old, starting counter clockwise is a good idea. If your 3 year old is still going strong about a mile into the hike, you could do the full loop or retrace your steps. Have a great hike! Cheers, Julie

  2. Avatar for Mary Morgan
    Mary Morgan

    This is great. We are taking our grandchildren, ages 12 and 14 there later this month on a mystery trip (their big Christmas gift each year). I wanted to print out this blog/report but couldn’t. Is there a way I can copy and post since it contains everything we want to do while on that hike. Can you copy and paste it and send it to me in an email? I would appreciate it since I like to know before we go of what to expect while in the park. We are taking our bikes to ride the trails and already have reservations to do the train ride through the park. I write mystery books for kids set in national parks and have been to this one before, but now want to do it with my grandchildren to get their reactions to things for a book. Thank you.

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      A mystery trip! That is so cool! You can print this post as a PDF. It’s a lot of pages but you can print the pages you need. From your browser, go to File -> Print and you should be able to print the entire post. If you can’t, write back in and I will see what else I can do for you. Cheers, Julie

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