Summer Weekend Road Trip from Chicago to Cuyahoga National Park, Ohio.

Why Cuyahoga?
One of the closest National Parks from Chicago. Scenic train ride is a rare experience and highly recommended for all ages. Lot of scenic places close by (waterfall, rock formations etc. ) which need moderate hiking. Near Cleveland so plenty of dwelling options.


How to Plan your visit?

• For accommodation, I would recommend an independent house with Airbnb or Vrbo if you are planning with few families, a lot more fun for the kids when they stay together. We stayed here.

• Run through this indispensable emergency checklist.

• Run though these tech essentials to turbo-charge your road trips.

• Reserve scenic train ride here.

• Carry bikes if you can, Towpath Trail is one of the iconic bike trails at offer, an 87 mile trail around Ohio and Erie Canalway. The trail is an easy one, even my 6 year old could bike around 5 miles.

• Plan your itinerary around following:

– Scenic train ride.
– Brandywine falls.
– The Ledges.
– Beaver Marsh
– Biking – we would recommend doing it from Beaver Marsh to Boston
Mills Visitor Center.
– Other areas of interest in the Cuyahoga National Park. NPS inventory is here.

Our Trip Details from Naperville

June 14-16, 2019

Road Trip
Naperville to Cuyahoga National Park.
380 miles, Google ETA: 5.75 hours. Actual ETA: 6.5 hours with few breaks and inclement weather during the overnight journey.

2990 E Overlook Rd, Cleveland Heights, OH 44118

 for 3 days.

Lessons Learnt:

  1. Please have printouts for train tickets, for some special events e-tickets on the phone will not suffice.
  2. Rather than doing the train journey back and forth in one shot, plan to carry bikes and take a break in between the train journey, it gets monotonous otherwise.


The Ledges

The Ledges is a treasure trove for nature enthusiasts, whether it is about the enormous variety of rock formations or the fauna. Several places were really dark and foggy in the afternoon which gave it a perfect mystical undertone.


The hike is moderate and kids loved climbing the rocks – small and big alike.





Brandywine Falls

There was a short boardwalk to the falls and the views were great. The only negative is that you can’t really go close to the falls. We were back to the trailhead in an hour.


Scenic Train Ride

We boarded the train from the Rockside station at 9 AM and came back around 12:30 PM from the Akron side. This would come handy.



Bike ride to the Beaver Marsh from Brandywine
This was supposed to be most adventurous activity for us as it had a moderate level biking for about 8 miles. The first couple of miles we had to go on a connecting hiking to reach Boston Visitor Center and then about 6 miles on the iconic Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath trail.

The connecting track to Towpath trail proved arduous to us with extremely steep declines and young kids with us unable to control bike speeds. After couple of failed attempts, we decided to go ahead no matter what and kids reluctantly agreed. Towards the end, the road was flooded and people were turning back.

We couldn’t possibly go back and we had just done many horrendously steep declines and the thought of climbing them was unnerving. After failed attempt by yours truly to cross the flooded road with a flourish, Rajeev came through and crossed the hurdle like a superhero and gave all kids the courage to repeat his daredevilry.

The last kid to cross the flooded path

After reaching Boston Visitor Center, the bike track is mostly easy.

The House

The house was peculiar to say the least. It was a recently renovated 99 year old house with some highly creepy spots like the basement. It also had a well mannered cat with deadly looks as the permanent housemate. The kids and some of the adults freaked out initially with the cat’s stone cold eyes but slowly warmed up to ‘Kitten’ and by the time we were leaving, we kind of started to miss her when she wasn’t around.

That’s it.

Loved the Cuyahoga post? Want to share your experience and suggestions for the fellow travelers?
Please ink in some comments.

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