Cuyahoga Valley National Park (again!) 06/04/2023


Aug 21, 2018
After an enjoyable visit to CVNP last week I decided to make a return trip this weekend.

I was on my own this time as Mrs. TD was out of town and taking a well-earned day off after helping her brother move.

To keep things interesting, I elected to walk an area of the park I had not been to before. The goal was to get 10 miles in with the 45lb. pack -- this would be close to our daily average for the August Thorofare Trip. No real elevation gain or loss today; I'll save that workout for another day.

Before I jump into Sunday, did anyone else notice the moon on Saturday night? I'm told it was a Strawberry Moon, but it looked more like a cherry or tomato moon to me. :)


On to Sunday. Before parking at the trailhead I made a stop at the "Bath Road Herony." This is a location that allows good viewing of Great Blue Herons and their nesting sites. Foliage was starting to obscure the view of the nesting area, but there was still an impressive amount of activity to see and listen to. There must have been at least a dozen nests in this one Sycamore tree. Today's pictures were taken with the Canon 5D IV camera and 28-300mm telephoto lens. That lens added a half pound to my carrying weight!



After 20 minutes of birding I decided it was time to start walking. I parked at the Ira Trailhead; a hike up the towpath trail to Peninsula and back would get me very close to my 10 mile goal. This route also allowed for another ice cream break mid hike. Strategic planning helps achieve positive results. :D


Sunday's walk encountered a lot more wildlife than expected. That is not a statement I thought would be applicable to this trip report but read on and you will see a sampling of critters viewed from (and on!) the trail. Do not set you expectations too high though. The large, majestic mammals that one often sees in the wilderness of the West are not what is featured here. ;)

My first encounter happened early in my walk. There is an area called the Beaver Marsh (more on that later) where a number of herons and other waterfowl were hanging out. This one looked rather sleepy.


A remnant of the canal further up the trail proved to be favorable habitat for turtles. This specimen in particular was of rather large size. I am no turtle expert but thinking it might be a red eared slider (due to the red stripes on the head).


The towpath trail with a remnant of the old canal on the left. Don't be fooled into thinking I had the trail all to myself for the day; I took many of my pictures when traffic was at a minimum. At any moment a bicyclist(s), joggers, or faster hikers could pass by from either direction.


Another view of the trail with the Cuyahoga River on the right. Nice views of the river were had for 25% of the day; the rest was spent in a tree lined corridor without much to see beyond.


Interesting trailside flower. It was the lone specimen of what looked like a dianthus.


I was cruising along and about 3/4 a mile from Peninsula when something on the side of the trail caught my eye. I do not hate snakes, but do not like to be caught off guard by them. This one was large enough to be seen from a distance away, so I did not jump or emit a high-pitched screech when I saw it. (That is my story anyway ;) ).


I suspect it was a Black Rat Snake and I'd estimate it to be around four feet long.




I watched the snake for a bit before moving on. Many joggers/bicyclists passed by and never even noticed the snake's presence.

I continued to Peninsula and enjoyed my mid-hike refreshments. Cookies and cream was the choice of ice cream flavors. A small boy from a neighboring table wandered over and took a seat at my table. I said hello and he quickly returned to his mom/brother not far away. I was not sure if he thought I was his dad or if he was after my ice cream. . . he was disappointed either way. :)


I make some pack adjustments and shuffled water from one bottle to another before making the return trip down the towpath trail. I do not remember the exact mileage at this point but it was near 4.8 or so.

I knew this report would need a personal touch, so somewhere South of Peninsula I dropped down to dip the toe of my boot in the river and take this picture. I had zipped the legs off my convertible pants and I am a bit worried I'll be dealing with aftereffects of poison ivy later this week. I carried the camera with the big lens (under my left hand) most of the day as it was too large to safely carry in the water bottle pocket on my pack.


Like last week the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad was in operation and I had seen/heard the train pass by earlier. I remembered the train schedule from last week, saw a picturesque bridge over the river on my way up, and timed a rest by the river/bridge to see if I could get a picture of the train as it crossed. Not long after I sat down two fishermen on kayaks lazily floated into view under the bridge! I sat and watched as they slowly worked their way towards me. With a minute to spare they glided out of my view finder and I was able to get a picture of Locomotive 6777 as it crossed the bridge pulling the train North to Peninsula.


Heading back South on the tree lined corridor. I don't care for the full sun/heat, so ample shade was much to my liking.


Another trailside curiosity presented itself in the form of a millipede. Look at all those legs!


Farther along I noticed this bullfrog on a log.


The Beaver Marsh is a waterlogged region alongside (and under) the towpath trail that I crossed earlier and would of course have to cross again to return to my trailhead. I did not see any beavers, but noted this dam that they likely had a paw or foot (?) in building.


This environment provided a nice place to view turtles.


Great Blue Herons.


More turtles.


More herons.


And some ducks.


A lone white water lily was floating in the marsh.


An overview of the Beaver Marsh as seen from the trail. Can you see the heron in the picture?


I hung out around the Beaver Marsh area for awhile before returning to the task at hand of walking 10 miles. I proceeded to and past the trailhead because I was at 9.7; just as I returned to the Gladiator I hit 10. Mission accomplished!


Snapshot from the GAIA GPS app.

thumbnail_Image-1 (1).jpg

Next week will probably involve training in more of a domestic setting. I am already cringing thinking about reps of hill climbs. :frantic:

The End!
I am not too sure that you’re going to find an ice cream stand at the halfway point of your daily Thorofare hikes. Unless maybe @scatman has an inside track with the rangers and can get something airlifted in on a daily basis.

Great photos! Wish I lived closer so I could lend you my bear canister … you could fill it with sand and carry it in your pack instead of the concrete block and weights.

I heard that drinking Red Bull gives you wings so maybe you can put it to the test on the Thorofare adventure.
I am not too sure that you’re going to find an ice cream stand at the halfway point of your daily Thorofare hikes
I plan on running several flavors of ice cream thru the freeze dryer. . . the experience will not be the same but we will still be able to have an ice cream break when necessary.
Wish I lived closer so I could lend you my bear canister … you could fill it with sand and carry it in your pack instead of the concrete block and weights.
I appreciate the offer. I'm sure there are easier ways to add weight to a pack, but so far this method has been effective. I thought about loading it up with a 50lb. bag of chicken food but I did not want any lingering smells present once in bear country.
I heard that drinking Red Bull gives you wings so maybe you can put it to the test on the Thorofare adventure.
The only thing that Red Bull has given me on the occasion that I've tried it is heart palpitations. I'll take my chances without it on this trip. :)

I loved your photos, especially the herons and other animals. And that train - WOW - so perfect!
Thanks @Janice !
Great pictures! The snapping turtle one is my favorite. It looks like it has some moss growing on its shell. You should have reached over and scrubbed some of it off for it. :D Heron shots are nice too.

If you are training this hard, then I am in big trouble! :(

Nice to see that you are now on the Tony's Chocolonely train so to speak. :)
The snapping turtle one is my favorite.
It reminded me of you a bit. You both have the same facial expression. :scatman:

If you are training this hard, then I am in big trouble!
You still have the advantage of elevation on your side. If I come up with some sort of oxygen deprivation training regimen, then you can worry.

Nice to see that you are now on the Tony's Chocolonely train so to speak.
What can I say, Trip Report Mentor. . . I learn from the best. :D

PS, I see what you did there.
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