Fall colors are nearly at their peak around here, and since my hiking buddy decided to abandon me for the weekend, I decided to head out on my own and explore a couple places in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park that I’ve never visited before.
I left home way too early and arrived at Virginia Kendall Park in the dark. Clearly, I knew I would have no luck finding the loop trail around Kendall Lake until dawn, but the full hunter’s moon shone so brightly that I could find my way to the dock and watch the moon set, reflected in the water.
Gradually, the sky began to lighten, revealing plenty of fall colors around the lake. I took several photos of the sunrise, the clouds, and the beautiful reflections before heading in search of the trail.
Once I located it, I followed the path up and down through the woods, along the road, and around the far side of the lake before returning to the parking area. I think the whole loop covered about 1.5 miles, but I took my sweet time completing it because, especially around the lake, I found gorgeous views and vivid colors everywhere!
I had not packed a thermos of tea as Keith always does, but I did enjoy a cookie break before moving down the road for my second hike of the morning, at Kendall Ledges. Knowing this was a nearly 2-mile moderate-to-difficult hike over rugged terrain, I grabbed my hiking poles and gathered my courage to tackle this trail solo (well, aside from all the people already out and about!).
The Ledges Trail at Liberty Park had partially prepared me for this hike, but the Kendall Ledges are just more: more hills, more sandstone ledges, more gorgeous things to see, more rugged and treacherous footing. I walked the trail slowly, not just because it was somewhat challenging physically for me, but also because every so often I had to stop, look around, and marvel at the majesty of it all.
One thing the Kendall Ledges feature that the Ledges at Liberty do not is an open area atop the ledges, overlooking the CVNP woods to the west. Apparently a popular area for viewing sunsets, this overlook is easily reached from the parking area. Obviously I saw neither sunrise nor sunset there, but there’s always next time!
Since I was in the area, I decided to drive a little further north to check on Brandywine Falls. At around 10 in the morning, the parking area was much more congested than the last time I visited, so I didn’t stay long. The fall colors are beautiful here, though the dearth of rainfall lately has decreased the falls’ flow for now.
I had considered other hikes for the day, but between the challenge of the Ledges hike and the swarms of people taking advantage of a warm fall day (either on the trails or at nearby farms), I hit my limit before noon and chose to find some lunch before heading home.
A good morning!