Brandywine Gorge Trail: History, Architecture, and Natural Beauty
The Cuyahoga Valley National Park has 125 miles of hiking trails. What makes the Brandywine Gorge Trail one of the most visited?
A Historic Site
Brandywine Falls, a 65-foot waterfall, is one of the most popular sites at CVNP. The Brandywine Creek water flows over a rock embankment primarily composed of Berea Sandstone, Bedford shale, and Cleveland shale. Steps and a boardwalk lead up to a head-on view of the waterfall and a closer look at the sandstone. Because the area surrounding Brandywine Creek is moist, mosses and eastern hemlocks flourish along the path.
This is a beautiful area of CVNP, but the early settlers saw it as more than pretty scenery. In 1814, George Wallace built a saw mill at the top of the falls. Soon the settlers also built grist and woolen mills.
A community flourished around the mills, but most of it was destroyed when Interstate 271 was built nearby. One of the few remains is a house built by James Wallace (George Wallace’s son) which is now a bed and breakfast neighboring the falls.
Years later, at the site of an old grist mill, Champion Electric Company built a generating station where they made restaurant appliances. In 1937, the company was destroyed when it was hit by lightning. Now the Brandywine Gorge Trail meanders around the power plant remains, an intriguing spectacle amid the natural environment.
An Architectural Site
In October 2009, volunteers and park staff worked as a team to build Brandywine Gorge Trail Bridge. The bridge is constructed of three sections and totals to a 165-foot long fiberglass bridge that crosses Brandywine Creek. Previously, hikers would cross the creek using stepping stones that could become slippery or flood during heavy rains. Now visitors can cross the creek and continue their hike no matter the weather.
A Beautiful Site
Brandywine Gorge Trail, open every day between 7am and 11pm, is 1.25 miles long with just a 160 feet change in elevation. The trail starts near James Wallace’s bed and breakfast and follows the gorge, allowing you to explore past the waterfall. During autumn, the vibrant colors reflect on the water for twice the splendor; during spring, the vernal pools attract salamanders; and during winter months, the waterfall transforms into lacey ice.
It takes about an hour to hike the whole trail, which is perfect if you want a short adventure or if you want to explore other trails while you visit CVNP.
Brandywine Gorge Trail: A Site Worth Visiting
Appalachian Outfitters regularly schedules hikes throughout much of CVNP. Join us for an adventure to one of the most beautiful trails in the park!