Posted in Hiking, Northeastern Ohio, Park review

Cuyahoga Valley National Park: Brandywine, Blue Hen, and Buttermilk Waterfalls

Just prior to our birding trip to Magee Marsh in May, we visited three waterfalls in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. We stopped at Brandywine Falls – one of the finest waterfalls in the state of Ohio.

Brandywine Falls
Brandywine Falls

Stairs leading down to the observation deck for Brandywine Falls
Ravine and boardwalk leading to Brandywine falls
Chipmunk hanging out on one of the trees near the boardwalk to Brandywine Falls

The falls is located on Brandywine Creek where it flows over a 65-foot (19.8m) sandstone and shale cliff. For information on the falls history, facilities, and travel directions, please see our prior article.

Blue Hen Falls

After a quick stop at Brandywine, we drove to the parking area for Blue Hen and Buttermilk Falls, about 10 minutes away. The trail-head for Blue Hen Falls is located off Boston Mills Road. A small parking lot accomodates 3-4 cars with an overflow lot on the other side of the street. An information kiosk is located at the trail-head. The trail goes downhill to a bridge over Spring Creek. The blue-blazed Buckeye Trail splits off and the Blue Hen Falls Trail then follows the creek to the falls. At the falls is a bench and a sign that says ‘End of Trail’. The distance from the parking area to the falls is 0.5 miles.

Footbridge leading to Blue Hen falls
Blue Hen Falls
Blue Hen Falls

Blue Hen Falls is a 15-foot (4.6m) falls which flows over hard Berea sandstone capping softer Bedford Shale, similar to nearby Brandywine Falls.

Buttermilk Falls

At the bench overlooking Blue Hen Falls there is a sign that says “End of Trail.” However this is where the trail to Buttermilk Falls begins. Below is a GPS trace of our hike. You can see that Blue Hen Falls lies relatively close to the trailhead, while the walk to Buttermilk Falls is a matter of following the trail that extends beyond the “end of trail” sign. It is about 0.6 miles from Blue Hen Falls to Buttermilk Falls, so a trip from the parking lot to Buttermilk Falls and back again would be about 2.2 miles. Despite the sign, it appeared that the path to Buttermilk Falls is very popular since we saw quite a few other hikers coming and going on this trail… many more than we typically see while hiking. I suspect the sign is there because of the relatively primitive condition of the trail which requires several creek crossings.

GPS trace of our hike to and beyond Blue Hen Falls, terminating at Buttermilk Falls. The trace was made using the Android “My Tracks” app. (Click photo to enlarge)
Trail along creek to Buttermilk Falls
Trail to Buttermilk Falls
Trail along creek bank on the way to Buttermilk Falls.
Creek crossing on the way to Buttermilk Falls

As we got closer to the falls we could hear a roar of water in the distance. We crossed the creek yet again, went up a small hill and found ourselves looking at Buttermilk Falls from above. A trail led down into the valley below for a closer look at the falls. We passed a snake sunning itself on a rock. It was shy and beat a hasty retreat, but not before we got photos. Then we continued to the base of the waterfall.

Northern watersnake
Head of northern watersnake
Deb near Buttermilk falls

Buttermilk Falls is a 20-foot (6.1m) high falls that cascades over a steep layered shale cliff. Presumably it was named “Buttermilk” because the water looks white as it ripples down a multitude of shale layers. Afterwards, we re-traced our path back to the parking lot and then headed off for a late lunch.

Although we visited the are past the peak of spring wildflowers, there were still a few to be seen.

Detailed look at Foamflower
Large-flowered trillium — This flower was white when it was newly blossomed. As the flower ages, it turns pink.
Additional information

Brandywine Falls
  • Address: 8176 Brandywine Rd, Northfield, Ohio 44067
  • GPS Coordinates: 41.2764618,-81.5401097
  • Google Maps: View on map or get directions
Blue Hen Falls & Buttermilk Falls
  • Address: 2001 Boston Mills Road, Boston Township, Ohio 44236
  • GPS Coordinates: 41.2570369,-81.5749242
  • Google Maps: View on map or get directions
Trailhead for Blue Hen falls

More on Waterfalls

© Deborah Platt, Robert Platt and 2012 to 2019

3 thoughts on “Cuyahoga Valley National Park: Brandywine, Blue Hen, and Buttermilk Waterfalls

  1. The trail to Buttermilk Falls was rough in just a couple places but well worth the walk. The falls are very pretty.

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