UPDATED NOV 11, 2019
Cleveland may not be the first city that comes to mind when you think of hiking... or waterfalls that aren't named Chagrin. But you can escape the city to explore these nearby hiking trails and outdoor spaces that just so happen to have some beautiful waterfalls. Adventure awaits — get out there!
Say ‘hello’ to the tallest waterfall in Cuyahoga County! Mill Creek Falls stands 48 feet tall and does not disappoint. You can find this waterfall hiding inside Mill Creek Park. Hike the mile-and-a-half trail from Garfield Park Reservation to catch a glimpse of its beauty from two of the observation decks. Fitt Tip: Because of Cleveland’s humidity and heat in the summertime, the best time to see these falls in action is in the spring and fall months.
The Black River flows for 12 miles throughout the city of Elyria and eventually runs into the West Falls. And let us be the first to tell you, pictures of these falls do not do it justice! This breathtaking site is about 35 feet tall and can be beautifully observed in the south side of Cascade Park. There is a 1.2-mile trail that can lead you to an observation deck or you can hike down the rocks towards the gorge to dip your toes in the water.
If you’re visiting the West Falls of the Black River, walk a mile east (trail available) to see the equally stunning East Falls. These falls are a little smaller than ol’ west-side-best-side but have a small park and a looking station so you can see this natural wonder from all angles.
Viaduct Park can get lost among the monstrosity that is the Cleveland Metroparks, but the 15-foot waterfall inside the park is hard to forget. These are the Great Falls, surrounded by woodlands and the remnants of an old saw mill. Trails descend towards Tinkers Creek (which flows into the falls) and is a great spot for tranquility, a hike, and even a picnic.
Catching a 25-foot waterfall in the middle of an urban area is, without a doubt, a breath of fresh air (with a little mist). The Chagrin Falls are easily accessible off of Main Street, where there are a bunch of chic stores and local eats that are worth browsing and tasting. When you need to cool off, take the steps towards the bottom of the falls to a trail that will lead you to a fishing and swimming area that’s 10-15 feet deep.
Calling all painters and photographers! We have your next muse just 20 miles away in Brecksville. Blue Hen Falls is a gorgeous 15-foot waterfall that trickles down into numerous streams. Although this waterfall is smaller than some, the lush greens and soft stone color along the creek make it a perfect picture and a serene moment for your hike.
This gem is tucked away in Cuyahoga Valley National Park just south of Cleveland. As you hike your way along the trails, keep alert or you’ll miss this 20-foot fall off the beaten path. We should mention that, contrary to the name, these are water-falls. And although there is no “map” to Buttermilk Falls, it can be found downstream from Blue Hen Falls (above). Grab your most adventurous friend and hop from rock to rock to find this hidden treasure.
Did you know the Rocky River is the lasting remains of a glacier? You got that right, this post-glacial river flows right into the Berea Falls in the Rocky River Reservation. The series of small waterfalls is flanked by sandstone cliffs and leafy meadows. It’s so darn beautiful. Find these falls on the east branch of the park along with many other activities like kayaking, hiking, and spots for a brief picnic.
The Cuyahoga Valley National Park gets thousands of visitors every year. With miles of hiking, and bike trails hedged by deep woods, what’s not to love? Brandywine Falls makes for a great stop within the park with its 65-foot features and flowing creeks to cool off in. Take the boardwalk down to feel the mist and catch a glimpse of the sandstone before going back up to enjoy the rest of the park.
Head over to Painesville, OH, to explore Lake Metroparks and find the beautifully rustic Paine Falls. This two-level waterfall can easily be viewed by some of the park’s walking trails and is surrounded by lush trees and rocks. And thanks to the park, there are a ton of picnic areas with grills and open land, so why not add a little view with your lunch? But, make sure to keep your views of the falls on the trails. Fines are threatened if caught getting a little too close to these beauties.