Tag Archive | Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Herons, Eagles and Hawks. . .Oh My!

From the tiny, flitting beauty of the ruby-throated hummingbird to the slender and stoic majesty great blue herons, it can be a birdwatcher’s paradise in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Designated an Important Bird Area by the National Audubon Society, the park’s wide variety of habitats attracts almost 250 bird species to its environs throughout the year, though spring and summer display the avian rainbow at its fullest.

The grassland habitat has become a nesting home for several species of sparrow, meadowlark and bobolink, renewing a once shrinking habitat and offering new breeding grounds. Offering a wholly different environment, the sandstone ledges and the cool, forested grounds of the Virginia Kendall area of the park are at their bird-watching peak in the late spring, attracting solitary vireos, hermit thrushes and black-throated green warblers.

The park’s wetlands and riverside habitats welcome dozens of species of duck and shorebirds, including a thriving great blue heron population, with a trio of nesting areas either within the park or adjacent to its boundaries. Although these majestic birds were rarely seen in the park before the 1980s, they now build hundreds of nests in a pair of zones along the river north of Route 82 and just south of Bath Road.

Breathtaking birds of prey also spend parts of spring and summer in the valley, including red-shouldered hawks, peregrine falcons, and iconic bald eagles, which have, over the past five years, become a regular – though no less impressive – sight in the park. Since 2007, in fact, a pair of bald eagles has raised eaglets within the park, and the population is expected to grow.

Bring your binoculars and keep your ears open–bird season in the Cuyahoga Valley is like no place else. – Submitted by John Booth, guest blogger

Shatterproof Summer Dates: Five Romantic Dinners and Destinations Not Even You Can Screw Up

THE MEAL: You wine and dine at home this date, but feel free to plan your dinner magic with a little brainstorming visit to the Great Lakes Brewing Company(216.771.4404) or the Market Avenue Wine Bar (216.696.9463), both in short walking distances. Relax on a rustic outdoor patio, sip locally-brewed beverages and figure out hors d’oeurvres, the main course and little late night dessert.

THE COST: Research some recipes that sound fancy, but are fairly easy to make (like soy-glazed salmon, pan-seared filet mignon, or lemon-garlic chicken). Visit Pinzone Meats (Stands B-4 and B-5) and grab two fresh sirloin tips for $5 a pound (about $15 per steak), which are great and cheap for grilling. Or visit Kate’s Fish (Stand F-12 and F-13) and pick up two Atlantic salmon filets for $8.99 per pound, for a healthy, late night affair. Throw in some veggies ($10) and a few Great Lakes beers ($15) and you’ve got a pretty cheap date. 

THE KNOWLEDGE: Adventurous food choices will show an open mind willing to try new things. In contrast, hunting for the perfect hamburgers between complaints about the cleanliness of the fruit will unleash the miscreant date monster beneath. Pay close attention to their urban diplomacy skills. The ability to wrangle with artful street vendors (while being funny, smart, and getting a good price) will only add bonus points to the long-term relationship formula.   

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Day Trips South: The Towpath Trail and Stan Hywet Hall

Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens (credit: KFCrisafi)

Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens (credit: KFCrisafi)

Changing Scenery

Several cities describe their surrounding park systems as “emerald necklaces.” Northeast Ohio also has a verdant pendant: Cuyahoga Valley National Park. It’s located on 33,000 acres of woodlands, meadows and open farmland between Cleveland and Akron. “It’s the first place we go on a nice day,” says Barbara Greene, an Akron resident and ardent outdoors person. She frequents the park’s Towpath Trail that runs along the old Ohio-Erie Canal Towpath and through diverse landscapes. Greene’s favorite part of the 22-mile trail is between the quaint villages of Peninsula and Boston, where she can check out an art show at MD Garage or refresh at Trail Mix, a country store across from the canal-boat building museum. This part of the Towpath takes Greene through rushing waters, meadow and marshland; plus there’s a great spot for her dog to dip. “As a walker and runner, changing scenery’s important to me.”

Manicured Landscapes
For those who dig more manicured landscapes, Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens in Akron is a must-see. This Tudor Revival mansion near the Cuyahoga Valley is open from April through December and has 70 acres of formal gardens. “The grounds reflect the Seiberlings’ appreciation of nature,” notes Marketing Vice President Katie Campbell. Goodyear Tire & Rubber founder F. A. Seiberling built the 65-room house in 1912 and dubbed it “Stan Hywet,” the old English term for stone quarry. The home was ahead of its time incorporating modern conveniences such as electric lighting, central heat and running hot water. Campbell believes the Great Garden’s three acres of cutting flowers, the tropicals in Corbin Conservatory and lovely lagoons that used to be quarries entice return visitors. “Most people come the first time for the museum [house], but they come back for the gardens.” –Submitted by Sarah Jaquay

Editor’s Note: Considering riding the vintage rails of the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad from Independence (just 10-15 minutes south of Cleveland) all the way to Akron.

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