Cuyahoga National Park High Point Trip Report

Date: December 26, 2003
Author: John Mitchler

General Description

Located in northeastern Ohio, just south of Cleveland, this new national park (October 11, 2000) has an easy highpoint along a county road. Although mostly a valley, Cuyahoga Valley National Park includes the high river bluffs.

The highest ground is bracketed by three interstates, I-77, I-80 (Ohio Turnpike), and I-271, and the highpoint lies southeast of the I-77 and I-80 intersection.

The T-intersection of two paved county roads, Black and Brush, is marked as 1,164 ft on the USGS topo. The land east of this T-intersection is NPS land and is the highest ground in the park. This national park, pronounced "ka-ih-ogh-ha," is the Indian word for crooked and describes the Cuyahoga River of which 22 miles is in the park.

Ownership Considerations

This otherwise straightforward highpoint has an interesting twist. Higher ground (1,170+ ft) is on apparent NPS property just south of Boston Mills Road, however, this land is not owned or administered or partrolled by the NPS. The official visitor map of Cuyahoga Valley NP shows all park acreage as green, however, some of this land is owned by Metro Parks and is so noted on that map.

Metro Parks is a collection of parks in Summit County and several of their parcels are adjacent to the national park and are portrayed to visitors as a coordinated public land block in the Cuyhoga Valley. The national park area is a patchwork of properties owned by the NPS, Metro Parks, and private interests. Driving through the park is unlike most national park experiences because of all the private land, homes, and businesses. Sifting through the complex (but not too confusing) ownership history required me to contact both the Metro Parks and National Park administrative offices.

at T-intersection of Black Road and Brush Road - NPS owned (1,164 ft)


At the intersection of I-77 and I-80, I took Exit 173 off I-80 and proceeded to the exit tollgate. Here I zeroed the odometer. Note that Exit 173 is Interchange 11 on the topo map. From the tollbooth, drive 0.2 mile to OH 21 and turn right (south). At mile 0.9 turn left (east) on Boston Mills Road. This road has a small white sign that may be difficult to recognize. At mile 1.5 note the woods on the right (south) which is the Metro Parks-owned highpoint. Continue to mile 2.0 and turn right (south) on Black Road. At mile 2.4 stop at the T-intersection with Brush Road which extends west. The national park land is on the left (east) and is marked with vertical NPS boundary markers.

The highpoint is a few feet off Black Road. Walk the high ground on either side of an abandoned entrance road which extends east to a colesium which was purchased by the NPS and has since been removed to restore the land. The high ground in the immediate area is a circular 1,160 ft contour centered on the T-intersection. The intersection is noted as 1,164 ft on the topo map.

south of Boston Mills Road - just east of OH 21 - Metro Parks owned (1,170+ ft)


At the intersection of I-77 and I-80, I took Exit 173 off I-80 and proceeded to the exit tollgate. Here I zeroed the odometer. Drive 0.2 mile to OH 21 and turn right (south). At mile 0.9 turn left (east) on Boston Mills Road. This road sign is a small white sign that may be difficult to recognize. At mile 1.5 park your vehicle. This is west of a lane on the left (north) of Boston Mills Road.

The high ground is on the right (south) in dense immature woods in a large 1,170 ft contour area which extends south for about 2,000 ft. This high ground drops off 200 ft to the west and south to the Furnace Run (creek) drainage. Greg Griffith walked the entire area with GPS and determined the high ground to be south of the B and O in Boston on the topo map. I concur. Greg Griffith measured the coordinates as (41° 15.6' N, 81° 37.23' W).

I found a Metro Parks vertical boundary marker in the woods during my walkabout. There is a Summit County Metro Parks "no hunting" sign along Boston Mills Road where you park. This land is known as the Furnace Run Metro Park with a delivery address of Brushwood Pavilion, 4955 Twonsend Road, Richfield, OH 44286.

Directions to the NPS-owned highpoint from the Happy Days Visitor Center

This visitor center is located on the east edge of the national park on OH 303 just west of OH 8. The parking lot is on the north side of the road and you must negotiate stairsteps and a tunnel to reach the main building on the south side of the road. From the Happy Days Visitor Center (named for the depression-era Happy Days Are Here Again song), drive 2.6 miles west on OH 303 to the intersection with Riverview Road in the small town of Penninsula. Turn right (north) onto Riverview Road. At mile 3.6 pass under I-80 which soars overhead and at mile 4.0 pass under the similar structure for I-271. At mile 4.1, turn left (west) onto Boston Mills Road. The Boston Mills Ski Resort is located immediately north of this intersection on the western bluffs of the Cuyahoga River. Go west on Boston Mills Road, climbing and winding up the bluffs, and at mile 6.8 turn left (south) onto Black Road and cross I-80. Continue south and at mile 7.2 reach the intersection with Brush Road and park your vehicle. The highpoint is on the left (east). If, after crossing I-80 on Black Road, you turned right (west) on Boston Mills Road, the Metro Parks-owned highpoint would be on your left (south) in the woods at mile 7.4.


All manner of modern services are on OH 21 southeast of the I-77 and I-80 intersection. The hamlet of Pennisula has some more-interesting venues, half way between the highpoint and the Happy Days Visitor Center. There is no camping in the park, except for special group programs.


Cuyahoga Valley National Park
15610 Vaughn Road, Brecksville, OH 44141-3018
Canal Visitor Center: (216) 524-1497
alternate number: (440) 546-5991
Fax: (440) 546-5905

Metro Parks, Serving Summit County
975 Treaty Line Road, Akron, Ohio 44313
Tel: (330) 867-5511
Fax: (330) 867-4711

Personal Contacts

1) I spoke to a ranger at the Happy Days Visitor Center. She had heard that the Ledges picnic area was the highest point in the park and considering that this is a significant venue, she is correct. It is 1,050 ft and is located on a hill in an area known as Kendall Park. Reach this by Kendall Park Road, going west off OH 8, just south of the intersection of OH 303 and OH 8. In 2003 Kendall Park Road was washed out going east off Riverview Road in the national park - see topo map. After my visit, I assume the rangers have a better understanding of the term "highpoint" (highest contour not highest hill).

2) I spoke to a geographer at the Happy Days Visitor Center and he understood the concept of contours and pointed with certainty to an area that was considered the park's highest point. This area is located on the bluff tops between Columbia Road and Boston Mills Road, just north of I-80, and is about 1,070 ft - see topo map. He alerted me to the new parcel west of Black Road which was home to a colesium that has since been removed. The map which was on the visitor center wall did not show this new acquisition. The printed map which is handed out to visitors does show it.

3) I spoke to the Metro Parks administrative office and discussed ownership and administration of the various parcels. Of the 33,000 acres in the national park, about 26,000 acres are owned by the NPS. Before visiting the national park, study the Metro Parks website to understand which lands they own.

4) I spoke to the Chief of Technical Servies at the administrative office and was informed that Cuyahoga Valley NP does not own the Metro Parks parcels nor do they patrol them. I confirmed that the land east of the Black-Brush intersection is NPS land (which confirms the markers found in the field).

Personal Trip Notes

Kathy and I left the Chicago-land area at 4:45 a.m. and reached Cuyahoga Valley NP in exactly 6 hours and managed to return home by 11:00 p.m. that day (for a total of 850 miles driven). In addition to visiting the national park we collected 3 nearby county highpoints (Cuyahoga Co., Medina Co., and Summit Co.) thanks to the pinpoint map compiled by Dave Covill.

We also visited a winery along Lake Erie thus adding Ohio to the list of my state wineries visited (32 of 50 visited with AK, SC, VA, and OH added in 2003). During our visit, the Cuyahoga River was not burning.