Cleveland December 09, 2017
9 Winter Waterfall Hikes Every Clevelander Must Take At Least Once
The cold is finally upon us, and Clevelanders are bundling up and braving the wind chill whenever they have to leave the house. The truth is, we go through this seasonal transition every year, and we
always adapt to the cold. Whenever that moment finally comes, you can’t let Old Man Winter keep you cooped up indoors. In fact, we know just the thing to get you motivated to get active this winter. Did you know that Greater Cleveland waterfalls are stunning in the winter? They’ll take your breath away, and these nine are just a short drive from home.
1. Berea Falls Scenic Overlook at Rocky River Reservation (Berea)
During Ohio's icy past, melting glaciers supplied the Rocky River with water, which seeped through cracks and fissures in the Berea sandstone to erode the soft shale below it. The process resulted in the breaking and shifting of the sandstone, which created the falls we know and love today. To visit this stunning spot, park near the intersection of Falls Lane and Valley Parkway and take the All Purpose trail to the Scenic Overlook.
2. East Falls at Cascade Park (Elyria)
On this 135-acre plot in the Lorain County Metro Parks, the twin branches of the Black River drain a watershed from Lorain, Medina, Ashland, and Huron Counties. On each branch is an impressive waterfall, each notably different. To access the East Falls, park off of Lake Avenue near the East Falls Riverwalk.
3. Brandywine Falls, Cuyahoga Valley National Park (Sagamore Hills)
Brandywine Falls is perhaps one of the most stunning waterfalls in the state. It is an impressive 65-foot falls and its power once fueled the many mills in the Village of Brandywine. For more information, check out our full feature article
4. Blue Hen Falls, Cuyahoga Valley National Park (Brecksville)
The Blue Hen Falls Trail is only a half mile long, so it's a quick trek to reach your destination. The falls are a spectacular visual treat, created by a 15-foot drop between the Spring Creek and the Bedford Shale below. You can find parking on the north side of Boston Mills Road, west of Riverview Road. From there you will cross an old wooden bridge over Spring Creek, where the trail will soon fork. Keep right and stick to the Blue Hen Falls Trail.
5. Great Falls of Tinkers Creek, Viaduct Park (Bedford)
Like the history of many of these other waterfalls, the Great Falls of Tinkers Creek once fueled a mill town. Nature and history interact in this spectacular park, telling a tale you'll never forget.
6. Glens Trail, Gorge Metro Park (Cuyahoga Falls)
Technically, there isn't a full waterfall on Glens Trail, but springs do flow from the ledges along the path. In the winter, the gorge walls become encased in icicles, creating a crystal palace. This hike is just under 2 miles, and definitely worth it to see the winter wonderland.
7. Buttermilk Falls, Cuyahoga Valley National Park (Brecksville)
Buttermilk Falls is simply breathtaking. It is a 30-foot cascade that has no true trail, but locals have worn out a path that leads to it. This waterfall is just beyond the end of the Blue Hen Falls Trail. In the wintertime, it is best to only visit this waterfall if the path is visible and if you have a hiking buddy. The property is owned by the Boston Mills Ski Resort, though they do not seem to mind visitors as the path is worn in and no signs warn against trespassing.
8. Cataract Falls of Mill Creek, Garfield Park Reservation (Garfield Heights)
Mill Creek Falls is the tallest waterfall in Cuyahoga County, measuring an impressive 48 feet. The area became a public attraction in 1894, when Cleveland purchased three farms to create Newburgh Park. It was later renamed, and it has certainly changed over the years. In fact, much of its stonework hails from New Deal Era building projects.
9. Paine Falls, Paine Falls Park (Leroy Township)
Unsurprisingly, Painesville was founded by a member of the Paine family. It is the founder's nephew, Colonel Hendrick Paine, for whom this park is named. He settled his family in this area in 1818, earning it the name of Paine's Hollow. He would industrialize the area, introducing a sawmill, a tannery, a shoemaker, and even a school. The town grew, but by 1850 it grew obsolete as water power was no longer needed and usable lumber had been felled. It became a park in 1974 and delights visitors each day. This hike is only 0.12 miles, but it's a bit of a workout, as it involves gravel and steps. You can find the parking lot at 5570 Paine Road.
To see more of the midwinter beauty of Paine Falls, check out this video by YouTuber
Though your natural instinct may be to stay inside during Cleveland’s colder months, the fact of the matter is that winter is one of the most incredible seasons in terms of beauty. These waterfalls become something truly special in the icier months, and if you bundle up, they’ll treat you to a view you will always remember.
Is snow on your mind now? You may want to reminisce on
Cleveland’s most memorable winters.