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Great Falls of Tinkers Creek in Ohio

Top Ten Waterfalls near Cleveland, Ohio

Disclaimer: I haven't been everywhere or seen everything. This is my top ten, which is almost certainly incomplete and debatable. Please leave a comment at the bottom if you agree, disagree, or have other suggestions! 
Map tips: click a marker to learn more about the spot, and click the star in the map header to save the entire map under Your Places in Google Maps.
One more thing before we get to the list - please follow the 7 Principles of Leave No Trace when in nature: plan ahead and prepare; travel and camp on durable surfaces; dispose of waste properly; leave what you find; minimize campfire impacts; respect wildlife; and be considerate of other visitors.

10: Falls of the Black River, Elyria

A mother and children on a platform looking at Falls of the Black River
East Falls in Cascade Park
  • Ease of access: steps from the parking lot (East Falls) or a 15-minute walk (West Falls)

This is a 2-for-1 because a 3-minute drive is all that separates the parking lots for East Falls and West Falls of the Black River in Cascade Park, Elyria. West Falls is more picturesque with (usually) 3 separate falls beneath a bridge, but I don’t have a good picture of it because when we were there it was essentially flooded and all the good viewpoints were inaccessible. Above is a picture of the East Falls, which has a set of stairs and short walkway right beside the Elyria Police Station. From there, you can take a very short drive to the Cascade Park playground and do a one-mile loop to see West Falls.

9: Affelder Falls, Novelty

A young child overlooking Affelder Falls in autumn
Affelder Falls
  • Ease of access: 5 minute walk

Very pleasant is how I would describe Affelder Falls. After parking at the Lewis and Ruth Affelder House, a 0.25 mile trail takes you to the falls. You can cross over the water on a small footbridge, then curl around for the best view that you see in the picture above. This is another one that can be dry so it’s best to go after a decent rain. Fall is the best time as the short walk, which can be extended, winds through the woods.

8: Mill Creek Falls, Cleveland

  • Ease of access: steps from the parking lot

Touted as Cuyahoga County’s highest at a whopping 48 feet, Mill Creek Falls is a man-made waterfall in the Garfield Reservation. The first glimpse is about 1-2 minutes from the parking lot on a viewing platform, but you’re looking across the waterfall. For what I think is the best view, continue down the paved path for another minute or so and you get the straight-on view above. You’ll probably need to zoom in a little on your phone or camera for a decent picture because it is a bit far and the waterfall is a small piece of the view. Mill Creek Falls is almost always flowing, which makes this a great destination year-round.

7: Chagrin Falls, umm, Chagrin Falls

2 young children climbing wooden stairs with Chagrin Falls in the background
Chagrin Falls
  • Ease of access: steps from the parking lot

As the name implies, this waterfall is in the heart of Chagrin Falls where Main Street crosses the Chagrin River. Chagrin Falls has been known to land on lists of the best small towns in the country (example here). There are several free parking lots nearby so you can leave your car, walk along the shops and restaurants downtown, and admire the falls.

6: Great Falls of Tinker’s Creek, Bedford

  • Ease of access: 5-minute walk from the parking lot

A paved trail from the parking lot at Viaduct Park in the Bedford Reservation leads to the Great Falls of Tinker’s Creek. Once you get close to the falls, there are several short trails that get you to to the river’s edge to explore. This is a great one for families, and as a bonus less than 10 minutes away is the parking lot for Bridal Veil Falls. It can be completely dry and there isn’t much of a “fall” to begin with, but it is close and quick so you might as well check it out.

5: Brandywine Falls, Sagamore Hills

  • Ease of access: less than 5 minutes from the parking lot

Brandywine Falls is the most well-known waterfall in and around Cuyahoga Valley National Park. I think there’s an argument to be made for it being the best in the area, but I have several others above it for a couple of reasons: it’s right by a road (you can see it when looking at the falls) and it’s pretty much always crowded. However, the wooden boardwalk and stairs from the parking lot lead to multiple nice views of the falls and there’s a very nice 1.5 mile loop trail that goes down to water level. While they’ve made some major renovations to the parking lot and facilities, you may not find a spot during peak times so go early.

4: Linda Falls, Walton Hills

A family surrounded by trees standing at the edge of Linda Falls
Linda Falls
  • Ease of access: 2-mile hike with a couple river crossings

Linda Falls is along the Sagamore Creek Loop Trail and is only present after a good rainfall. Parking is at the Alexander Road Trailhead and you’ll see a signed trail for Linda Falls on your right after starting down the paved trail from the lot. It’s somewhere around a mile to the falls, and depending on how much water there is, you might get your feet wet as there are multiple stream crossings. This is a flat, enjoyable walk through the woods and there usually aren’t many people. If there’s a LOT of water, you’ll be treated to a double waterfall!

3: Day’s Dam Falls, Lorain

Children playing at the foot of Day's Dam Falls
  • Ease of access: 1-mile RT walk along a mostly paved path

This hidden gem is located at the Black River Reservation in Lorain. A half-mile down the paved trail is a short loop through the grass that leads to the waterfall. There are benches to admire from afar or you can go right up to the water. You don’t need more than 30-45 minutes and you might have this one all to yourself!

2: Blue Hen Falls, Peninsula

A man and children standing at the top of Blue Hen Falls
Blue Hen Falls
  • Ease of access: 3-mile RT hike with several hills

This is so close to being my favorite hike in the area. It has some decent elevation gain and loss (especially for the region) and the waterfall is beautiful, but points are deducted since a decent part of the trail runs along Route 271 and another part is along Boston Mills Road. It really takes away from the solitude when there’s highway traffic noise and cars right beside you at times. However, it’s worth doing at least once because the falls themselves are great. Parking is at the Boston Mill Visitors Center and it’s a 3-mile RT hike to and from the falls. The falls are best viewed after a decent rain and you’ll likely see people at the top and bottom of the falls.

1: Twin Sisters Falls, Brecksville

A child standing in the water at the bottom of Twin Sisters Falls
Twin Sisters Falls
  • Ease of access: most likely will involve trekking through water

This is the best waterfall in the area, but it is not without controversy. There is no official trail to it and the National Park Service has asked people not to hike to the falls in the past. However, the official rule for off-trail hiking in Cuyahoga Valley National Park is that it’s allowed unless otherwise posted. If at any point there is a sign indicating Twin Sisters Falls is inaccessible, please abide by it. As of this writing, Twin Sisters Falls has been acknowledged by the NPS and 50 meters upstream and 50 meters downstream are closed. Please respect the rules so people can continue to responsibly see it.

To get there, park at the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad Brecksville Station lot. Take the trail that goes north, cross the Station Road Bridge, and take a left on the Towpath Trail. You’ll soon see the “Mudcatcher” on your right, which is a concrete structure that produces a small waterfall of its own. Follow that stream of water to Twin Sisters Falls. The easiest way is to walk in the water and you’ll almost certainly get wet and/or muddy. The falls can be completely dry so it’s best to go after a heavy rain.

Bonus falls: Lanterman’s Mill, Youngstown

Lanterman’s Mill
  • Ease of access: steps from the parking lot

Lanterman’s Mill is about an hour from Cleveland, so I didn’t want to include it on the list but also didn’t want to omit it completely. In addition to the mill and waterfall, there’s a covered bridge and easy hiking trails that make for a very pleasant day (especially for families).

Know of other good Cleveland waterfalls? Leave a comment below!

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