Oxbow TrailCascade Valley MetroPark
Metro Parks, Serving Summit County
Akron, Ohio (Summit County)
Park at the furthest parking area in the Cascade Valley MetroPark parking lot in the Oxbow area on Cuyahoga Street.
Length: 1.2 miles
Duration: 1 1/2 hours. Surface: natural, uneven, can be muddy or icy at times.
Type: hiking loop trail.
Accessibility: No. (Stairs, uneven surfaces, narrow trail)
Skunk Cabbage in a hillside seep along the Oxbow trail.
This hiking trail is mostly situated in the floodplain of the Cuyahoga River. The trail winds through a riparian forest which consists of tree species such as American elm (Ulmus americana), slippery elm (Ulmus rubra), green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica), white ash (Fraxinus americana), eastern cottonwood (Populus deltoides), and sycamore (Platanus occidentalis). The forest is but a shadow of the elm-ash-cottonwood forests which probably once existed here. The understory of the present forest is dominated by invasive species such as bush honeysuckles (Lonicera spp.) and Japanese multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora), while the wildflowers have partially been displaced by the non-native invasive herb, garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata).
In spite of the thick cadre of invasives which greet the hiker in these woods, the Oxbow trail is pleasant to hike. The spring wildflowers along the trail are beautiful in certain spots. Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) is one of the species you will see here. Small pockets of forested wetlands, vernal pools, and hillside seeps are sprinkled across the landscape. These areas contain wetland plants such as red osier dogwood, and provide valuable amphibian habitat. Skunk Cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus), which blooms before most native plants have begun to break their dormancy, is a common plant in these habitats.
The trail sits directly on the banks of the river for some of its length, providing ample opportunity to enjoy the river. Belted kingfishers frequent the area. If you are observant, you will here their ratchet-like calls.
From the floodplain, the trail climbs to the top of the valley wall. Here, an overlook provides a spectacular view of Cascade Valley and the Cuyahoga River far below.
Just downstream from here, the Little Cuyahoga River joins the main stem of the Cuyahoga. At that point, the river turns north and heads towards Cuyahoga Valley National Park, and on to Cleveland and Lake Erie.
The Cuyahoga River from the overlook along the Oxbow hiking trail.
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