Posted in Hiking, History, Northeastern Ohio, Park review

Cuyahoga Valley National Park: Brandywine Falls

Brandywine Falls is in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The falls is named after the village of Brandywine that no longer exists.

Brandywine Falls – the orange streak is from a vein of rusty iron.

Without any light on it, the rusty strip seems to disappear.

The village of Brandywine boomed in the early 1800s because of the waterpower which the falls provided. Here’s a vintage photo of the mill associated with the falls.

The mill is long gone now.
The ruined foundation of one of the old mill buildings near the top of the falls.

As transportation technology advanced, first with the Erie Canal, then later with railways, the village of Brandywine was bypassed and their economy gradually deteriorated. Today all that remains of the village is James Wallace’s house and barn which have been converted into the picturesque Brandywine Inn.

Visitors to the falls arrive at a large parking lot. There are restroom facilities, picnic tables and grills near the grassy entrance. To see the falls you enter the woods and begin walking on a wooden boardwalk. The boardwalk clings to the side of a slate and sandstone cliff. You have two choices as to the path you follow on the boardwalk. You can stay on a relatively flat upper ramp and go to a vantage point near the top of the falls. Or you can take a stairway to a point about midway down the gorge where there’s a deck with a great view of the falls.

Trail sign – the shorter distance is just to the top of the falls
This is how the boardwalk looks near the entrance.
Peaking over the cliff to the gorge’s bottom.

Shortly after the boardwalk goes just under the rim of the gorge. I thought this part was fun!

The upper boardwalk clings to the side of the cliff. It leads to the top of the falls.
Passing under an overhanging cliff
Looking up from the boardwalk, you can occasionally see ferns growing under the overhanging ledge.
Many of the cliff surfaces are covered in lichens.
Stay back!

Once you get to this point of the boardwalk you have a good view of the top of the falls, but it’s hard to capture photographically because of branches and leaves. Some people might be tempted to cross over the fence to get a better vantage point. Don’t! I caught sight of some photographers on the other side of the gorge snapping a few photos. I’m sure they got some great photos, but for my part, I want to live!

Note the photographers on the top left of this photo. They’ve crossed the safety fence to get a better photo.

If you go in the fall after the foliage has dropped off, there are move views of the falls.

During the summer, the branches at the bottom of this photo would be all leafy and obstruct part of the view.

Below is another view of the falls from the stairs leading down. This was taken in October after most of the leaves had fallen, so the view was better than it would have been in the summer.

Glimpsing Brandywine falls through the trees
From the stairs you can see where the viewing platform is relative to the falls.

Once you reach the viewing platform there are no trees between you and the falls, so you get a good view of the falls no matter what time of year it is. It’s fun to photograph your loved ones here with the falls in the background. Here’s one that I took of my daughter.

Dee at Brandywine Falls

If you decide to go, there’s tons of stuff to do in the surrounding vicinity. But I’ll leave that for a future post. 🙂 In the meanwhile if you are interested, check out the National Park Service’s description of Brandywine Falls.


Address: 8176 Brandywine Road, Sagamore Hills Township, Ohio

GPS Coordinates: 41.2764618,-81.5401097

View or get directions from Google Maps.

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© Deborah Platt, Robert Platt and 2012 to 2021

6 thoughts on “Cuyahoga Valley National Park: Brandywine Falls

  1. Lovely scenery and interesting history. I’m always amazed when I see tourists climbing over barriers. I’ve seen people do that at the incomparably dangerous Athabasca Falls in Jasper, and sadly there are serious accidents on occasion.
    By the way, I’m sure there’s a Brandywine River in Tolkien’s Middle Earth!

    1. Adele, thank you for stopping by! The whole Middle Earth conneciton had slipped right by me until you pointed it out.

      As to those photographers crossing the safety barrier, I was taking another look at one of the images of the falls posted by the National Park Service, and I am convinced the photographer was standing on this exact spot. Let me see if I can embed it here.

  2. I have been many places in the Cuyahoga Valley but have never been to Brandywine Falls – it is on my list for the next visit for sure! Great photos, the last one (of Dee) is especially beautiful! Another activity I can highly recommend to your readers is bicycling the Towpath Trail through the Valley. We have biked from the Canal Visitor Center to Akron, mostly a flat run but definitely need mosquito repellent in the summer.

    1. Sally, thank you for the kind words about the photos (especially about Dee :-)). I have been so wanting to do the cycling trip along the old canal towpath, but I haven’t been able to arrange for this trip yet. Since we live in central Ohio, it’s a bit of a drive for us. But I will point out your endorsement to Bob, and maybe that will be enough encouragement for us to really make this happen this year. And thank you for the tip about using mosquito repellant, too.

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