Located between Akron and Cleveland in northeast Ohio, Cuyahoga Valley National Park is Ohio’s only National Park. The park covers 33,000 acres, has 186 miles of trails, and is the third-smallest park in the National Park System yet ranks as one of the ten-most-visited National Parks. Cuyahoga Valley National Park’s namesake river flows north and south. The Cuyahoga River begins its 100 mile journey in Geauga County, flows south to Cuyahoga Falls where it turns sharply north and flows through the park. American Indians referred to the U-shaped river as Cuyahoga or “crooked river.”
The history that influenced this area of Ohio goes back several hundred years with the opening of the Ohio and Erie Canal in 1827. The canal took two years to build and was dug by hand between Cleveland and Akron. A parallel towpath for mules that pulled boats loaded with freight and a system of forty-four locks was also built. By the early 1900’s the railroad brought about the demise of the canal, and by the 1920’s roads were built through the Cuyahoga Valley. Today, restored sections of the canal alongside a restored towpath follow the route of the Cuyahoga River.