Cuyahoga Valley National Park–Ledges Trail and Octagon Shelter

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Cuyahoga Valley NP–Ledges Trail and Octagon Shelter
Coordinates: 41.228, -81.51
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Photos by Susan Carpenter

Ohio Birding Day Hike

Ritchie Ledges Trails
Ledges Trail: 2.2 miles, 1.5 hours, moderate, 105 foot elevation change
Pine Grove Trail: 2.2 miles, 1.5 hours, moderate, 100 foot elevation change
Forest Point Trail: .5 mile, 30 minutes, easy, minimal elevation change
Haskell Run: .5 mile, 30 minutes, easy, 70 foot elevation change

About the Ritchie Ledges
By far, one of the most unique and stunningly beautiful sites in Northeast Ohio to bird watch 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 are 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.

Birds of Interest
Barred Owl, Broad-winged Hawk, nesting Winter Wrens

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.

About 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.
From Cuyahoga Valley National Park website

Warning: All areas of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park are prone to deer ticks from the early spring until late fall, so prepare accordingly before birding.

Restrooms on site. Restrooms at locations identified on Cuyahoga Valley National Park map. Most areas have non-flush toilets; there are flush toilets available at the Pine Hollow parking lot on Quick Road and the Virginia Kendall Lake lodge building.