SMOKINCHOICES (and other musings)

May 5, 2012

OH Impressive Waterfalls

CAPTIVATING CASCADES

The waterfalls of Ohio splash into prominence during spring

By Steve Stephens THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

STEVE STEPHENS DISPATCH PHOTOS    Brandywine Falls in Cuyahoga Valley National Park is one of the largest and most scenic waterfalls in Ohio.

Ohio isn’t known for its mountains, its glaciers, its geysers, its surf — or its waterfalls. But unlike those other features, the Buckeye State’s waterfalls do, at least, exist, and a few are even big enough to rate the adjective impressive. For those who love the sight and sound of cascading water, here are some Ohio waterfalls worth seeking out, especially in spring when streams and rivers are running high.

Brandywine Falls

Perhaps the state’s CVNP Brandywine Falls_ 285w_Tom Jonesmost spectacular waterfall, Brandywine Falls in Cuyahoga Valley National Park is a treat to visit any time of year.

Visitors will find a boardwalk and sturdy steps leading to a viewing platform that gives a spectacular look at the falls, which drop about 60 feet and once powered a mill and small town. The town is long gone, but a few remnants of the mill still can be seen along the trail.

The friendly Inn at Brandywine Falls is, as the name suggests, just a short walk from the falls and a great place to stay while exploring the park, where a few other smaller but lovely waterfalls, such as Blue Hen Falls, can be found.

For more information, call 1-800-257-9477 or visit http://www.nps.gov/cuva  .

                  Blue Hen Falls is one of several small waterfalls in  Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Brandywine Falls in autumn

TOM JONES

Cedar Falls

Photograph of Cedar Falls in Early Summer

Cedar Falls in Early Summer (by Eric Hoffman)

The Hocking Hills region is studded with small falls, none better than Cedar Falls, which flows 50 vertical feet through steep channels over a water-carved rock face before plunging into a shallow pool.

A short hike (or drive) away are other falls including the Upper Falls at Old Man’s Cave, just a few yards from the main parking lot at the Hocking Hills State Park visitors center.

Also in the park are the Upper and Lower falls at Old Man’s Cave, each with a drop of about 20 feet; and Ash Cave Falls, where water trickles 90 feet over the lip of an enormous recess cave.

For more information, call 740-385-6842 or visit http://www.dnr.state.oh.us/   parks/parks/hocking/tabid/743/   Default.aspx.

Chagrin Falls

Chagrin Falls in downtown Chagrin Falls is accessible and dramatic.

Chagrin Falls is located in the center of the northeastern Ohio town of the same name.

But that doesn’t lessen the beauty of the cascade, which courses over a 20-foot shelf on the Chagrin River just below the Main Street Bridge. The accessibility of the falls is a definite plus, as is the old-fashioned popcorn and treat shop just at the top of the falls. As an added bonus, a Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams shop is just a few steps away.

Boardwalks descend from the street on both sides of the small gorge to viewing areas just below the falls. A public parking area is located just steps from the boardwalk. And just upstream of the falls, a small dam in Riverside Park forms a man-made falls that is also quite pretty.

For more information, call 440-247-5050 or visit http://www.chagrin-falls.org/   Visitor_Welcome_Center.

West Falls of the Black River

STEVE STEPHENS DISPATCH PHOTOS Visitors to Cascade Park in Elyria will see the spectacular West Falls on the Black River.

Travelers might never guess, driving over the bridge on Lake Avenue in downtown Elyria, that beneath them lies one of the most spectacular falls in Ohio.

But those who detour into Cascade Park and take the 10-minute hike to the overlook will be rewarded with a stunning view of a beautiful cliff formation and the waterfall, which tumbles 35 feet over a large, rocky shelf in the Black River.

Unfortunately, Cascade Park is in dire need of some basic maintenance. But don’t let the trash and graffiti dissuade you from experiencing the natural beauty of the site.

East Falls, with about a 25-foot drop, is also in the park, 1 mile by trail from West Falls.

For more information, call the Elyria Parks and Recreation Department at 440-326-1500.

Clifton Gorge

Clifton Gorge near Yellow Springs

While not meeting some definitions of falls, the white water of Clifton Gorge near Yellow Springs certainly provides a grand spectacle of churning water and rising mist and the stomach-in-the-throat feeling that comes with peering down into one of the state’s deepest and steepest gorges.

Trails through John Bryan State Park take visitors along the gorge and Little Miami River past rock formations and rapids such as the Narrows, Steamboat Rock and Blue Hole.

A true — if man-made — “waterfall” can be found just upstream from the park at Clifton Mill. Water is still used for power at the historic mill, and visitors can watch a considerable flow cascade prettily from the millstream over a cliff next to the mill. Visitors can also stop for a cup of coffee or a meal at the historic mill or buy a bag of the flour milled there.

For more information, call 937-767-1274 or visit http://www.dnr.state.oh.us/   parks/parks/jhnbryan/tabid/750/   Default.aspx.

Stockport Dam

Stockport Dam and the Stockport Mill Inn are a lovely destination.

Purists might protest the addition of this man-made “falls” in Stockport to the list. But beggars can’t be choosers, and, in Ohio, a good waterfall shouldn’t be pooh-poohed — even if it’s constructed.

Besides, Stockport is really a gorgeous spot on the Muskingum River. The historic hand-operated lock on the east side of the dam, and others like it up and down the river, still operate on summer weekends, allowing pleasure boaters the chance to go upstream as far as Zanesville or down to Marietta and the Ohio River.

On the west bank, directly on top of the 20-foot-tall dam, sits the lovely and friendly Stockport Mill Inn. Taking a room with a balcony overlooking the dam can be a real treat for those who love the sound and sight of rushing water.

For more information, call the Muskingum River State Park at 740-453-4377 or visit http://www.dnr.state.oh.us/parks/   parks/muskngmr/tabid/773/   Default.aspx. sstephens@dispatch.com

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