June 2013 - Cuyahoga Valley National Park - Happy Days

Peninsula, OH

Cleveland coal baron and industrialist Hayward Kendall acquired this property in the early 1900s to use as a hunting retreat. Upon his death in 1927 the property transferred to his wife, Agnes, with the stipulation that it would eventually become a park named in honor of his mother, Virginia. Agnes Kendall was not interested in
the property and turned it over to the State in 1929. During the Depression of the 1930s the Civilian Conservation Corps was based in Virginia Kendall Park constructing trails and building the rustic Happy Days lodge for urban children. The buildings were designed to harmonize with the natural patterns of the land using locally quarried sandstone and wormy chestnut. 

The primary trail system runs south from the Visitor Center, highlighted by a mile-long band of 30-foot sandstone ledges. The Ledges Trail circles the rock formations on a wide footpath that doesn’t require the crazy passages emblematic of some of its area cousins, making this trail suitable for any level of canine hiker. Spur trails climb to the nooks and crannies and the top of the ledges, often with stone steps to ease your dog’s journey Still there are drop-offs here so rein in a rambunctious dog. You can also take your dog around a trio of easy loops that dip into a verdant creek valley and tour fragrant pine woods. The national park trails continue across Truxell Road to the Salt Run and Lake trails. The Lake Trail is a gentle trip around Kendall Lake on a wide, wooded path. Head towards the dam area for the easiest access for your dog to get a swim. Athletic dogs will welcome the chance to challenge the hills of the Salt Run Trail. Steps buried in the slope ease the ascents but this trot is sure to set your dog to panting. These pretty woods serve up long views with little understory from a paw-friendly dirt trail. A short cut-off slices the 3.2-mile loop in half but chances are your dog won’t vote to take it. If you park in the Virginia Kendall Unit your dog will reach these hikes on mown grass trails across enchanting hills. Your dog will love these hills as much as the sledders after a snowfall.  

The park ledges are cut in the Sharon Conglomerate, formed from small pebbles rubbed round by continual tumbling in the fast-moving primeval streams from 320 million years ago. The pebbles—almost all made of quartz washed down from Canada—are known as “lucky stones.”

From I-80 take Exit 180 and go south on SR 8. Turn right on SR 303 West to the parking lot one mile on the right.