Cuyahoga Valley National Park Birding Drive

Ohio Birding Drives
Ohio Birding Drives are routes for birding trips which can be accomplished in one day, stopping to walk and bird at various eBird hotspots. For each birding drive, a Google map is provided with the route and suggested stops at eBird hotspots. You may save the link to the Google map on your smartphone or tablet, or print a copy on paper to take with you. Links are provided with information about each eBird hotspot. Follow those links for more information about birding each location.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park Birding Drive
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This Birding Drive explores eBird hotspots in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. When you submit checklists here you help to add to the data about birds in this region of Ohio.

Cuyahoga County
Summit County

Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Though a short distance from the urban areas of Cleveland and Akron, Cuyahoga Valley National Park seems worlds away. The park is a refuge for native plants and wildlife and provides routes of discovery for visitors. The winding Cuyahoga River gives way to deep forests, rolling hills, and open farmlands. Walk or ride the Towpath Trail to follow the historic route of the Ohio & Erie Canal.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park–Station Road Railroad (Cuyahoga County)
Cuyahoga Valley National Park–Station Road Towpath Trail (Summit County)
Valley Parkway
Brecksville, Ohio 44141
Please, note that the Cuyahoga/Summit county line is in the middle of the Cuyahoga River in this area.
+ The parking area and train station and trails along the railroad on the west side of the river are in Cuyahoga County.
+ When you cross the Cuyahoga River, the Towpath Trail on the east side of the river is in Summit County.

From OH-82, drive south on Riverview Road for .2 mile. Turn left onto Valley Parkway and go .2 mile. Arrive at the Station Road Trailhead.

Bald Eagles, Blue Herons, and so much more … Regarded as one of the top birding locations in northern Ohio, the Station Road Bridge trailhead is shared by Cleveland Metroparks and the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The canal and the Cuyahoga River wind along the riparian valley, as does the scenic railroad. A large swamp, north of the main parking area and the OH-82 bridge, is home to nesting Bald Eagle and a Great Blue Heron rookery. This area is closed during the eagle nesting season. When open, the marsh can be accessed — with a park ranger’s help — by carefully walking alongside the railroad tracks. The large wooded swamp also is home to uncommon Red-headed Woodpeckers and Prothonotary Warblers, as well as nesting Wood Duck and Hooded Merganser. Another large marsh can be accessed by carefully walking south along the scenic railroad tracks – again with a ranger’s direction. Here, Red-headed Woodpeckers, Virginia Rail, Sora, Hooded Merganser, Swamp Sparrow, and Common Yellowthroat nest.

The main all-purpose Towpath Trail running along the east side of the river is by far the easiest access through the park. Enormous Eastern Sycamores and cottonwoods line the river, and a steep wooded hillside meets the Towpath Trail in a marshy riparian lowland along the canal.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park–-Jaite Mill Park Headquarters
Vaughn Road
Brecksville, Ohio 44141

From the Station Road Trailhead, go west on Valley Parkway for .2 mile. Turn right onto Riverview Road and go .2 mile. Turn right onto OH-82 and drive 2.4 miles. Turn right onto South Boyden Road and go 1.6 miles. turn right onto West Highland Road and go .9 mile. Continue straight onto Vaughn Road for .3 mile. The Jaite Trailhead is on the right just before you reach the railroad tracks.

The floodplain and marsh area at the Jaite Headquarters at Riverview and Vaughn Roads provides its own rarities from time to time.

Located along the Cuyahoga River, the Jaite Mill Historic District is a significant example of an early 20th-century company town. A technological development—the electric overhead crane—changed manufacturing operations at this time. Industrial operations became horizontally oriented, rather than the traditional vertically oriented water or steam belt and drum systems, thus manufacturing operations required more land. Increasing numbers of unskilled immigrants arrived in cities looking for employment. Urban areas became increasingly densely built and populated. Housing for immigrants was often crowded and poorly built, resulting in public health problems.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park–Boston Store Towpath
1550 West Boston Mills Road
Peninsula, Ohio 44264

Drive west on Vaughn Road for .1 mile. Turn left onto Riverview Road and drive 2 miles. Turn left onto West Boston Mills Road and go .1 mile. Turn right onto Main Street.

Walk the Towpath Trail north and south of the Boston Store. Over 130 bird species have been reported from this area.

Located in Cuyahoga Valley National Park, the Boston Store Visitor Center is the starting point for your National Park adventure. It also is a canal boat-building museum, featuring exhibits on all aspects of that business. The building was originally constructed circa 1836 to house the Boston Land and Manufacturing Company Store. Since then, it has served as a warehouse, store, post office and gathering place. Today, the Boston Store also offers visitor information, a public meeting room available for rent and a small sales area. The exhibit at the store tells the story of canal boat building in the valley.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park–Coliseum Grasslands
West Streetsboro Road
Richfield, Ohio 44286

Drive west on Main Street, turn left onto West Boston Mills Road, and then turn left onto Riverview Road. Drive 1 miles and turn right onto Stine Road. Drive 1.6 miles and turn right onto OH-303 west. Arrive at the Coliseum Grasslands on the right.

Park in an unmarked grassy lot along the north side of State Route 303, just west of the intersection of I-271. If conditions are wet, park carefully along the road just before it narrows.

The demolition of the Richfield Coliseum in 1999 brought an unexpected benefit. Restoration of the building site and parking lot created a new grassland habitat that is benefiting many bird species, several of which have been in decline due to loss of habitat. During the summer breeding season, five species, in particular, can be found here: Eastern Meadowlark, Bobolink, Savannah Sparrow, Grasshopper Sparrow, and Henslow’s Sparrow. Because these birds nest on the ground, we ask visitors to stay on the edge of the grassland during nesting season (April to August). Disturbance of the nests could result in nest failure.

Migration brings other interesting species to the grasslands, including various hawks and shorebirds. On winter evenings at dusk, short-eared owls can be seen flying low over the dried grasses hunting for voles and other rodents.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park–Horseshoe Pond and Tree Farm
2167 Major Road
Peninsula, Ohio 44264

Drive east on OH-303 for .4 mile. Turn right onto Major Road and drive 2.1 miles. The Horseshoe Pond parking area is on the left.

Park at Horseshoe Pond on Major Road in Peninsula.

A walk along the Tree Farm Trail takes us through a former Christmas tree farm, now rich with mixed conifer trees that provide great habitat for wintering birds. This is an especially good area in which to look for red-breasted nuthatches and golden-crowned kinglets from late October through early March. The large open areas surrounding the evergreen forests are excellent places to look for small flocks of eastern bluebirds most any time of the year.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park–Ira Road Beaver Marsh
3945 Riverview Road
Peninsula, Ohio 44264

From the Horseshoe Pond parking area, drive east on Riverview Road for 3.8 miles. The Ira Road Trailhead is on the left.

The Beaver Marsh is accessible from the Towpath Trail between the Ira and Hunt Farm Trailheads.

The Ira Road Beaver Marsh is a good place to visit during the waterfowl migrations in March and November. Wetlands provide essential feeding and resting places for migrating birds. Less than 10 percent of Ohio’s original wetlands still exist, making this habitat in Cuyahoga Valley National Park especially valuable to wildlife.

A walk along the boardwalk often provides great bird watching opportunities, especially during summer, when it is possible to see birds at close range and in their peak breeding plumage. Watch for families of wood ducks in the water, look for tree swallows as they capture insects in mid-air, and listen for the single-pitched staccato trill of the swamp sparrow.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park–Bath Road
Akron, Ohio 44313

From the Ira Road Trailhead, drive south on Riverview Road for 1.7 miles. Turn left onto West Bath Road for .2 mile. The Great Blue Heron Viewing Area is on the left.

From February until July, great blue herons nest in treetop colonies called heronries. The four-foot tall herons with their seven-foot wingspans are most impressive during the breeding season when, in peak plumage, they perform their courtship displays. The Bath Road heronry can be observed throughout the entire breeding season from a pullout along Bath Road.
From Cuyahoga Valley Bird Watching at its Best brochure

Cuyahoga Valley National Park–Wetmore Trails
4653 Wetmore Road
Peninsula, Ohio 44264

From the Great Blue Heron Viewing Area, drive east on West Bath Road for .2 mile. Turn left at the first cross street onto Akron Peninsula Road and drive 4.4 miles. Turn right onto Wetmore Road and go .6 mile. The Wetmore Trailhead is on the left.

The Wetmore Bridle Trails have a rich diversity of birdlife. Over 125 bird species have been reported in this area.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park–Ledges Trail and Octagon Shelter
Truxell Road
Peninsula, Ohio 44264

Drive northwest on Wetmore Road for .6 mile. Turn right onto Akron Peninsula Road and go .7 mile. Turn Right onto Truxell Road and drive 2.1 miles. The entrance to The Ledges Trailhead is on the

By far, one of the most unique and stunningly beautiful sites in Northeast Ohio to birdwatch and hike, the “Ledges” themselves are massive walls of Sharon conglomerate rock, draped in ferns, mosses, hemlocks, and seeps. The rich woodlands remind one of the west coast’s Olympic rainforest. Stately stands of enormous Eastern Hemlock trees sit atop the crown of the ledge wall, while oaks, beeches, birch, tulip tree, and maples cover the base of the gorge.

The unique, rare, and sensitive plant life and community is highly diverse, and the list of specialty birds, here, is locally famous. Icebox Cave, a wet, cool “box” carved in the side of the sixty-foot ledges, is surrounded by a diverse mix of tree and herbaceous species that benefit from the cooling effect of the shady ledges, and the groundwater seeps that spring from the base of the ledges.

In Spring and Summer, all along the ledges trail, look and listen for the Hooded Warbler’s loud “weeta weeta wee-tee-oh” and the buzzy “zee-zee-zee-zee-zoooo-zee” of hemlock-loving Black-throated Green Warblers. Ovenbird and Louisiana Waterthrush are joined by two other talented songsters, Wood Thrush and Veery. Three rare nesting warblers are found during most Summers, Magnolia, Kentucky and Canada Warblers, which nest in very few other locations in northern Ohio. The star of the show is the ultimate flutester, the tiny Winter Wren, which nests in dark crevices high on the ledges walls. Blue-headed and Red-eyed Vireos, Acadian Flycatchers, Eastern Phoebe, Scarlet Tanagers, and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks are other common nesting species. Barred Owl is regularly seen here, even during the day.

A large open meadow and shelter lie near the parking area. Around the forested edges, one can find Indigo Bunting, Eastern Kingbird, Great Crested Flycatcher, Cedar Waxwing, Broad-winged Hawk, Pileated and Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Gray Catbirds, and Song Sparrows.