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.
Distance: 2.6 miles
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
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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