Cuyahoga Valley Park Visit


Sam Donaldson

Illustration by Sarah Thompson

When we’re simply not in the mood to do homework and find ourselves stressing more than usual, procrastination can be such a beautiful thing. While some see avoiding school work as a hindrance to productivity, I see procrastination as a reminder of what life is truly about. Being so tranced by schoolwork most of the time, we often lose direction. When we procrastinate, we sometimes are able to reprioritize and reestablish the values that we genuinely cherish in life.

Personally, I find myself lost often, especially when I have homework up to my neck. I’ll always end up questioning so many aspects of society and life. Consequently, I’ll feel as if I need some kind of temporary escape route. Nature is typically that way out for me.

The pure atmosphere from deep within the woods or the refreshing sound of a natural waterfall never fails to rejuvenate my soul. From a personal perspective, nature represents the ideals of beauty, balance, peace, consistency, etc. Not only does nature serve as a pleasant escape from reality and society, but it also allows me to refocus my own morals. I genuinely love to just let my mind wander as I observe every minute detail surrounding me in the heart of Mother Nature herself. 

With another stressful week of college, I decided to explore the nearby area a bit more. Specifically, I recently visited two parks, Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Quail Hollow Park, and highly recommend you do the same. My goal with today’s blog is to offer a way to help you temporarily escape the everyday stress of being a full-time student and clear your mind. Also, I hope to give others who may not be familiar with the local area, such as myself, some awesome and beautiful places to check out off campus. 

If you love waterfalls, hiking trails and the atmosphere of a national park, then you’ll love Cuyahoga Valley National Park, which is just under a half hour from campus. Since the park is so immense, you need to specify what section of the area you want to visit. There are two main waterfalls: Blue Hen Falls and Brandywine Falls. When I visited the site, I ended up just getting to see Brandywine Falls, because Blue Hen Falls was closed due to construction.

After gazing at the waterfall for a solid 30 minutes, I then took on one of the hiking trails that simply loops you around the falls. With the trees painted all different colors and the satisfying crunch of fallen leaves under your feet, the walk was perfect for restoring my appreciation of nature rather than worrying about when my next assignment is due. As an obvious warning, if you do choose to hike on the Brandywine trail loop, be prepared for a lot of mud. Also, the park is a national park, so expect a decent amount of people (but easy access to parking) at the viewing decks. However, I must say, it was very quiet and peaceful on the hiking trail, which was a terrific perk. 

If you are looking for a more informal park that still acts as a quiet place to get in touch with nature, I would recommend Quail Hollow Park. This park is also just under a 30-minute drive from campus. With various different trails and gardens, this park is perfect to calm stress with the authenticity of natural peace. Of course, this time of year is undeniably the best time to visit with the variation in colors everywhere you look. Not to mention, the air seems to be purer and more refreshing. This park covers a large property, so I would recommend reviewing a map initially to understand where every trail leads to. However, I would also highly suggest visiting the “main area” of the park where the park rangers are stationed. In this area, there are also various resting areas that are “just perfect for reading,” as a friend of mine pointed out.

I absolutely love nature. It always gives me such joy to actively pursue such beauty and just be reminded of what else exists in life other than school. At times, I find it quite difficult to try and find some kind of peace of mind even in my own bed. Being surrounded by nature always seems to help me achieve this goal more than anything else. Consequently, experiencing the consistency and harmony of nature helps me to get myself into the right mindset to accomplish my goals. Stepping back from my daily responsibilities and resolving that internal conflict, I find it much easier to prioritize what is significant to me in life.

Remember this: the homework will always be there. Let go a bit, and see where life takes you. By procrastinating, you might just discover something new about yourself or something new about life in general.