• Photo of the Beaver Marsh by Jeffrey Gibson.

    Cuyahoga Valley

    National Park Ohio

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  • Valley Picnic Area Park Lot CLosed - Plateau Trail Loop Affected

    Valley Picnic Area Parking Lot is closed for the replacement of the damaged culvert on the Plateau Trail, from dusk on Monday, September 22 to 5 p.m., Thursday, October 2, 2014. Access to Plateau Trail is via the Oak Hill Trailhead. Loop unavailable.

  • 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 »

Watersheds

Cuyahoga River in fall Tom Jones

Cuyahoga River at Dusk in the Fall

©Tom Jones

Cuyahoga River Watershed
Cuyahoga Valley National Park is contained entirely within the Cuyahoga River watershed, which takes on the shape of the "v"-shaped river. The Cuyahoga River begins in Northeastern Ohio’s Geauga County as two bubbling springs that join about 10 miles to the south near Burton. The river flows to the southwest, through thick forests and past rich farm fields, until it reaches the more populated urban areas near Akron, Ohio. At this point, the river hits an east-west continental divide and turns sharply northwestward, forming the bottom of the "v." The Cuyahoga then flows through CVNP—alongside remains of the Ohio & Erie Canal, through the Historic Districts of Peninsula and Boston, and under the historic Station Road Bridge. The river reaches its terminus in downtown Cleveland, 100 river miles from its source, but only 30 miles as the crow flies.

The Cuyahoga River watershed drains over 810 square miles of Northeastern Ohio. Thirty-seven named tributaries and many unnamed streams, totaling over 1,100 stream miles, enter the Cuyahoga throughout its course. Within CVNP’s portion of the watershed (about 6.5 percent of the total watershed), perennial (permanent) and ephemeral (temporary) streams total over 190 miles in length. Some of the larger tributaries (e.g., Tinkers Creek and Furnace Run) drain areas larger than 50 square miles, while most others range between 2 and 20 square miles.

Land use maps show a landscape as diverse as individual tributaries. Forested areas cover much of the watershed, about 56 percent. Agricultural lands and urban open space account for 22 percent, while wetlands, rivers, and streams are found on 16 percent. Urban areas cover 6 percent of the watershed.

Watershed Stewardship
Though the Cuyahoga River watershed makes up less than 2 percent of Ohio’s land area, nearly 15 percent of Ohio’s population lives within the watershed. Most of this population is found along the lower Cuyahoga. Though a few small communities are located in the park, Akron and Cleveland, the urban centers at the southern and northern ends of the park, contain most of the watershed’s population. This high concentration of urban areas, along with heavy industrialization along its banks, stresses the lower Cuyahoga, which has been troubled by pollution since the 1800s, although it has recovered. Read more about the recovery in our new site bulletin.

The park's tributary watersheds are affected by the land-use decisions of forty-six communities. See a list of those communities or view them on a map.

Better care of the watershed is needed to keep park resources from further risk. Read about Watershed Stewardship in our new site bulletin.

Watershed Planning
For good examples of local watershed planning efforts and resources, including projects in many park tributaries, please visit the Cuyahoga River Community Planning Organization at www.cuyahogariverrap.org/.

To learn more about watershed planning partnerships, visit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) at www.epa.gov/owow/watershed/.

For examples of riparian setback ordinances and additional information, read the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency’s Regional Model Ordinance at www.noaca.org/ and the Summit County, Ohio ordinance (#2002-154) at www.co.summit.oh.us.

For information on the importance of headwater stream protection visit the Ohio EPA at www.epa.state.oh.us/dsw/wqs/headwaters/.

For examples of and information about wetland setback ordinances, see the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency’s Regional Model Ordinance at www.noaca.org/.

To learn more about conservation easements, visit the Cuyahoga County Soil & Water Conservation District at www.cuyahogaswcd.org/services-easements.htm or the Western Reserve Land Conservancy at www.wrlc.cc/.

For information on conservation development principles, zoning, and model codes, visit The Countryside Program at urban.csuohio.edu/planningcenter.

For more information on low-impact development and on-site storm water management, visit the U.S. EPA at www.epa.gov/owow/nps/lid/.

For a list of local wetland mitigation opportunities, visit the Clearinghouse at www.epa.state.oh.us/dsw.

For information about local areas targeted for compact development, visit The Countryside Program at urban.csuohio.edu/planningcenter.

Did You Know?

Monarch Butterfly - US Fish and Wildlife Service Photo

Early September is the time to watch monarchs feed in Cuyahoga Valley fields rich with goldenrod and New England aster. These places serve as important re-fueling sites for these long distance travelers on their way to oyamel forests near Mexico City more than 2,000 miles away.