• Photo of the Beaver Marsh by Jeffrey Gibson.

    Cuyahoga Valley

    National Park Ohio

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  • Towpath Trail Closure

    Towpath Trail is closed from Mustill Store to Memorial Parkway for riverbank reinforcement. Detours posted. Closure will last 1 - 4 weeks into August. More »

  • Other Closures

    Valley Bridle Trail south of SR 303, across from golf course, is collapsed by river. Hard closure. Plateau Trail Bridge, north of Valley Picnic Area is closed. No detours. Plateau & Oak Hill trails are open. More »

  • Riverview Road Repaving

    Riverview Rd is being repaved from the Cuyahoga-Summit Cty line to Peninsula through Mon, 9/15. Road is open but there are still delays due to construction. Allow extra time. More »

Brandywine Falls

CVNP Brandywine Falls_ 285w_Tom Jones

Brandywine Falls

©TOM JONES


Brandywine Falls is Among the Most Popular Attractions in Cuyahoga Valley National Park


Geological and Natural History
Carved by Brandywine Creek, the 65-foot falls demonstrates classic geological features of waterfalls. A layer of hard rock caps the waterfall, protecting softer layers of rock below. In this case, the top layer is Berea Sandstone. The softer layers include Bedford and Cleveland shales, soft rocks formed from mud found on the sea floor that covered this area 350-400 million years ago. Shale is thinly chunked, giving water a bridal veil appearance as it cascades down the falls.

A combination of boardwalk and steps brings you into the waterfall's gorge and lets you view the waterfall head-on (a boardwalk option without stairs is also available). The boardwalk also provides a close look at Berea Sandstone. Careful inspection will reveal the individual grains of sand that accumulated in a sea 320 million years ago. Berea Sandstone is high quality sandstone found commonly throughout this area, both in nature and as a construction material used in buildings and canal locks.

The moistness of the gorge is evident as you walk along boardwalk. The moisture invites moss to grow on the sandstone and eastern hemlocks, an evergreen tree, to grow along the gorge. The hemlocks contrast with the abundant red maple trees in the area, which flame with color in the fall.

Cultural History
Early settlers in the valley saw the falls not just as an object of beauty, but as something to be used for its water power. In 1814, George Wallace built a saw mill at the top of the falls. Grist and woolen mills followed. The Village of Brandywine grew around the mills and became one of the earliest communities to emerge in the Cuyahoga Valley. Much of the village is now mostly gone, lost to the construction of nearby Interstate 271. However, the James Wallace house, built by George's son, remains and is a bed & breakfast, the Inn at Brandywine Falls.

Hiking the Trail
The 1.5-mile Brandywine Gorge Trail lets you explore beyond the waterfall. It starts near the bed & breakfast and follows the edge of the gorge, eventually taking you down to creek level. The trail is worth revisiting in the spring to view vernal pools that temporarily fill with water, attracting breeding salamanders. The views of the creek and the layers of rock it has exposed are also worth the walk.

 
Brandywine Falls in autumn

Brandywine Falls in Autumn

©TOM JONES

Seasonal Changes
Brandywine Falls is a place to return to time and time again-to watch the changing seasons such as seen in fall colors and spring vernal pools. It is also a place to watch the moods of the waterfall. With less water, the bridal-veil pattern becomes more pronounced. In winter, ice becomes the attraction. Immediately after storms, water torrents over the falls, often in higher volumes than would have occurred historically, because run-off from upstream paved surfaces has increased water flow.

Visiting
Brandywine Falls is open daily from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Brandywine Falls is located at 8176 Brandywine Road in Sagamore Hills Township.

 

Did You Know?

Historic photo of canal boat on the Ohio & Erie Canal.

Lock 27 along the Ohio & Erie Canal became known as Johnnycake Lock after several boats ran aground due to flooding. While stranded, supplies ran low and canal passengers and crew ate only corn meal pancakes, known as "johnnycakes".