Spring is almost here! In Ohio, that means warmer weather and yes, even rain. The good news is that spring rains will make this road trip from Columbus to some of northeast Ohio’s best waterfalls simply EPIC!
There’s nothing like spending time in the great outdoors. Hearing rushing water from a nearby waterfall just adds to the excitement. Whether it’s the steady flow of a cascading stream or the powerful gush of a full-fledged waterfall, it’s easy to immerse yourself in the beauty of nature.
One thing is clear, the natural beauty nestled within the urban landscape of northeast Ohio is special. Travel with us to learn about the five waterfalls in Northeast Ohio that we visited during our trip.
8 Sisters Bakery & Cafe
8 Sisters Bakery & Café has become a “must” stop anytime we head north of Columbus along I-71. Located at Exit 151, this small bakery offers hot breakfast sandwiches, cakes, pies, pastries, and some of the best doughnuts around.
We, of course, go straight for the doughnuts. We especially like their apple fritters, cream sticks, and Buckeye doughnut.
Waterfalls in Northeast Ohio
Cuyahoga Valley NP – Brandywine Falls
Cuyahoga Valley became a designated US National Park in 2000, to protect the natural resources along the historical Ohio-Erie Canal. It’s one of our favorite places to spend time hiking, biking, and kayaking in Ohio.
Did you know that there are nine trail-accessible waterfalls located within the official boundaries of CVNP? The most well-known and frequently visited of them all is Brandywine Falls, a powerful 65-foot waterfall.
There are several ways to access the Brandywine Falls area. We took the 1.4-mile Gorge Loop Trail. For a more direct route to the falls, follow the Upper Boardwalk from the main parking lot. Don’t miss out on the gorgeous views from the Lower Boardwalk too!
Gorge Loop Trail
From the main parking lot, we turned left onto the Stanford Trail, just before the boardwalk. Continuing clockwise took us down into the gorge, across the creek, and back up the other side.
It’s a well-established natural path with steep steps leading to a footbridge across the creek.
Connecting to the Brandywine Gorge Trail, we followed the gorge rim to the paved bike path which crosses over the top of the waterfall. The final, and perhaps most exciting part of the loop is the Upper Boardwalk.
Take time for a short out-and-back trip on the Lower Boardwalk (lots of steps!) to enjoy an up-close view.
Parking for Brandwine Falls is located at Stanford Rd, Northfield, OH 44067. The parking lot is fairly small and finding a spot can be a challenge. Plan to visit on a weekday or very early on a weekend. We visited on a Saturday, arriving at 8:30 a.m. and found the lot already half full.
This was our only stop in CVNP, but anyone wanting to spend the entire day hiking to waterfalls within the park should also consider Blue Hen Falls or some other great options here.
Great Falls at Tinkers Creek
Great Falls at Tinkers Creek is located in Viaduct Park, in the Bedford Reservation. From 1821 – 1913, the Great Falls was used to support the local community to power a grist mill, saw mill, and electric power plant. Remnants of these buildings can still be seen here.
In 1853, the C&P Railroad arrived in Bedford building a 225 ft stone viaduct to span the gorge. A portion of the viaduct still stands today and is easily accessible from the parking lot. We were able to walk on top, enjoy the views, and read about its history.
Afterwards we followed a paved (unmarked) walkway to the Viaduct Park Loop. The loop is a 0.5-mile paved trail that descends about 30 feet into the gorge, offering a nice viewing area above the waterfall.
For the adventurous, which we were, there is a remnant tunnel from the mill that leads to a lower viewing area.
During our visit the water flow was moderate, allowing us to safely continue along a footpath to the base of the waterfall.
Following this path required quite a bit of rock scrambling, but the payoff was a close-up view of “The Arch”, built in 1902 which allows Tinker’s Creek to flow into the gorge.
Great Falls can be accessed by parking at Viaduct Park, located at 205 Willis St, Bedford, OH 44146. Don’t let the unassuming entrance fool you. This is a gem of a park, and the Great Falls is worth allowing time to explore. It turned out to be our favorite waterfall of the day.
Chagrin Falls is a picturesque small town located along the banks of the Chagrin River. There are plenty of local shops, art galleries, and restaurants. It would be easy to spend an entire day here.
Perhaps the centerpiece of this river community is the Chagrin Falls Waterfall, a 20 ft tall waterfall spanning 60 ft.
Located on the north side of the waterfall, Riverside Park provides easy access to a viewing deck located close to the waterfall. There are steps leading down to the river level and scrambled across rocks along the river’s edge for a spectacular view.
The south side of the river is home to many businesses and restaurants. One of the best views of the waterfall can be found at 17 River Grille. We had made a reservation in advance and enjoyed a tasty lunch, followed by dessert in the comfy outdoor lounge with a fabulous view!
The waterfall is located in the heart of town, just below the Main St bridge. There is a Falls Parking Lot located at 93206037, Chagrin Falls, OH 44022. However, we found plenty of available street parking near the Popcorn Shop.
Chair Factory Falls
Located just below I-90 near Painesville is a beautiful natural waterfall tucked away along Jordan Creek. Chair Factory Falls is a 35 ft waterfall where the water pools often reflect the emerald green of its natural surroundings.
The trail is a well-groomed gravel path through the woods for another 0.3 miles, marred only by noise from the adjacent interstate. Closer to the waterfall, the trail descends quite steeply just before reaching the overlook.
From here, the falls can be seen at a distance, but are partially obstructed by foliage.
There is a short footpath to the right that took us to the top of the waterfalls and provided an unobstructed side view. During our trip, the water flow was minimal. If you can catch this waterfall during peak flow, it is sure to be spectacular.
The most popular place to park is at the Lake Metroparks Environmental Learning Center, which offers its own lovely trails and other points of interest. 7250 Alexander Rd, Painesville, OH 44077
We chose to park at the Old Stone Schoolhouse located at 7125 Old 44, Painesville, OH 44077.
From either location, head northwest along the Lake Metroparks Greenway for about 0.3 miles to reach the trailhead. It is on the right side of the greenway and is well marked.
Dramatic is the only description for Paine Falls. This tiered waterfall, cascading down a 25 ft drop across two 80 ft wide levels is reason enough to visit. Add in an old iron bridge in the background and foliage that frames the scene, and you have the makings of a masterpiece.
Located in Paine Falls Park, the path to the overlook is short at only 0.1-mile. However, it does require navigating multiple steps in and out of the gorge. The overlook is large and provides a direct view of the waterfall in the distance. There are no additional trails available.
Paine Falls was beautiful during our visit, but it would be a magical place to visit during Ohio’s peak fall colors.
Paine Falls Park is located at 5570 Paine Rd, Painesville, OH 44077. There is ample parking and a covered picnic shelter available.
Looking for More Waterfalls in Northeast Ohio?
There are dozens of waterfalls sprinkled around this corner of Ohio. The beautiful parks and waterfalls we discovered on our one-day journey only fueled a desire to see more.
To start planning your own Chasing Waterfalls in Northeast Ohio trip, click here to view a map of more trail-accessible waterfalls in the area.
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