Situated just under an hour’s drive from the cities of Akron and Cleveland, Nelson Kennedy Ledges State Park is not your typical Ohio State Park.
Set within 167 acres, this scenic day-use nature spot is dominated by a rock outcropping. This feature possesses narrow passages that lead through its cracks and run through towering cliffs. Within them flow small streams that are strewn with massive blocks of detached cliff face.
With three miles of trails that run a course over, around and through its openings, it takes the form of a kind of stone maze. As you can imagine this makes the park a popular destination for hiking, with the surrounding forests, waterfalls, rich birds and wildlife only adding to the park’s uniqueness.
Under an hour from Cleveland, it is a popular spot for picnicking. The park unfortunately does not have a campground, however there are plenty of accommodation options available to you within easy driving distance of it, should you need a place to stay.
The park provides visitors with multiple ways to immerse themselves within its spectacular landscape.
Here is a brief rundown of some of the main activities you can enjoy whilst you are there.
Hiking at Nelson-Kennedy Ledges State Park
The best way to explore the park is by hiking.
Throughout it you will find four separate trails that will take you to formations like Indian Pass, Old Maid’s Kitchen and Devil’s Icebox, via the Nelson Ledges.
These trails are as follows:
- White Trail – Length: 1 mile. Degree of Difficulty: easy
- Yellow Trail – Length: 0.75 miles. Degree of Difficulty: moderate
- Blue Trail – Length: 0.75 miles. Degree of Difficulty: moderate
- Red Trail – Length: 3 miles. Degree of Difficulty: challenging
As the park’s name suggests, while hiking you will have to cross ledges. In addition, there are spots where you will also need to navigate your way up and down small boulders, as well as squeeze through thin passages.
For this reason it is important you wear a good pair of hiking boots. You should also put on a hat and plenty of mosquito spray and sunscreen. It is worth taking lots of water with you as well.
Waterfalls at Nelson-Kennedy Ledges State Park
The park is home to two stunning waterfalls which you should make a point of seeing. Unlike other state parks in Ohio, as the park is relatively small you won’t need to trek too far to go and see them.
At around 38 feet tall, the Cascade Falls is the larger of the two waterfalls. Here, the water runs down the towering rock face before falling into Gold Hunter’s Cave, which lies below it.
Minnehaha Falls is about 18 feet tall and is notable for having a flow that continues on through a rock crevice before descending down to the gorge below.
You will definitely want to bring your camera with you to capture these outstanding sights on film.
Picnicking at Nelson-Kennedy Ledges State Park
Offering tranquility, serenity and an impressive natural backdrop, picnicking is a popular activity at the park.
Located within the park are picnic tables where you can enjoy a packed lunch or al fresco meal. Some of these are shaded and all provide a nice scenic view for you to enjoy whilst you eat.
If you do choose to use the picnic area be sure to dispose of your trash appropriately. Also be mindful that the consumption of alcohol is not permitted anywhere in the park.
Birding and Wildlife at Nelson-Kennedy Ledges State Park
If you love birding, you’ll definitely want to bring your binoculars to the park.
All up some 71 species have been spotted here, either residing on a permanent basis or simply stopping by the park as part of their annual migration.
Depending on what time of the year you visit the park and what part of it you are in, you might be able to see the likes of red bellied woodpeckers, tufted titmice, white throated sparrows, eastern bluebirds and American goldfinch.
In addition to the birds, several small species of mammals such as raccoons, skunks and fox squirrels also inhabit the park.
Pets at Nelson-Kennedy Ledges State Park
Just like all of Ohio’s other state parks, you are welcome to bring your dog with you to Nelson Kennedy Ledges State Park at no extra cost. However, you will have to abide by its pet policy.
This includes ensuring your dog is well behaved at all times and cleaned up after, should it make a mess.
Dogs must also be on a handheld leash of no more than six feet in length and cannot be left unattended for more than 30 minutes too.
They might not be permitted to enter certain buildings. So it is worth contacting the park’s main office for clarification on that.
Camping at Nelson-Kennedy Ledges State Park
Unfortunately there is no camping accommodation available at the park.
However, for those who require a place to stay in order to visit it, you will find the Nelson Ledges Quarry Park and Kool Lakes Family Campgrounds within a short driving distance.
Between them these campgrounds offer plenty of sites including some that have connections for electricity. Depending on which one you stay at, amenities should include flush toilets, hot showers, a dump station, children’s playground and concession store.
If you would prefer to spend your nights somewhere which offers a few more home comforts, you will find motels and Vrbo type accommodation at the nearby towns of Nelson, Southington, Hiram and Garrettsville.
Nelson-Kennedy Ledges State Park
Garrettsville, OH 44231
Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Nelson-Kennedy Ledges State Park:
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