National Public Lands Day highlights opportunities |

National Public Lands Day highlights opportunities

Bob Frye | Everybody Adventures
Public lands such as Cuyahoga National Park offer all kinds of opportunities.

Before Jurassic World, before Jurassic Park, before even the actual dinosaurs that spawned them, there was Brandywine Falls.

Or at least the makings of it.

Between 300 and 400 million years ago, Brandywine Creek began cutting its way through the Cuyahoga Valley. In nature’s slow but unrelenting way, the Brandywine gouged and scoured and burnished the local rock, Bedford shale topped by harder Berea sandstone.

It took a long, long while, but – by 10,000 years ago, near the end of the last Ice Age — all that power chiseled out Brandywine Falls.

Today it’s a 65-foot-tall “bridal veil” falls. It’s gorgeous – no less because it outlasted all manner of limb-tearing, flesh-eating, scream-inducing predators – year round, but will be especially scenic soon, when a backdrop of autumn’s colorful leaves renders it its most spectacular.

It’s accessible, too.

The falls is located in Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio, between Cleveland and Akron. The park takes in 33,000 acres along 22 miles of the Cuyahoga River, into which the Brandywine flows.

When we last visited we made a point to hike the 1.4 mile Brandywine Gorge Trail. You need not walk the entire thing to see the falls – there are upper and lower observation decks – but it’s worth the effort to get looks at the creek, surrounding woods and even vernal pools that in spring hold salamanders.

That view is different every time you visit, if only subtly.

The same power that “built” the falls eons ago continues unabated. What visitors see today will differ from what they’re children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren will see decades from now.

But you can see it.

That’s not to be taken for granted.

Public lands are special.

America is home to hundreds of millions of acres of public land, be it owned by the federal government, like Cuyahoga, or the states. Management of those lands varies, depending on the agency in control. But it’s held in trust for the nation’s citizens, forever.

And this is the time to celebrate that. Sept. 22 is “National Public Lands Day.”

The National Environmental Education Foundation first conceived of setting aside a day to pay homage to America’s open spaces. It’s the fourth Saturday in September each year.

This year is the 25th it’s been celebrated.

National Public Lands Day has two goals.

One is simply to get people outdoors. As a result, national parks and other public lands that normally charge an entrance fee waive them on that day.

The other is to get people volunteering. All across the country, state and national parks and forest and other public lands host conservation-minded volunteers who plant trees, do trail maintenance, refurbish picnic area, improve stream habitat and more.

Last year, according to the National Park Service, on Public Lands Day more than 169,000 people volunteered at 2,100 sites, donating more than 680,000 hours of labor worth nearly $17 million.

Organizers are hoping to top that, under the unifying theme of “resilience and restoration.”

“Our natural resources are resilient, but only if we treat them right and give them the care they need. Through volunteer service on National Public Lands Day as well as grant support to local organizations, NEEF helps ensure people of all ages and abilities connect with public lands for recreation, hands-on learning, and community-building — now and in the future,” the Foundation said.

If you want to volunteer, a listing of events can be found here.

But if you can’t get out on the actual Public Lands Day, or missed it, you can still get outdoors. There’s plenty to do on public lands at this time of year.

Hike. Temperatures are falling, though not yet too frigid. The bugs are less populous, though you still have to be aware of ticks. And nature’s color palette is about to be at its most spectacular.

Paddle. Sooner rather than later, taking to the water will require special cold-water gear. But for a bit yet, it’s possible to canoe or kayak without those special precautions. Take advantage of that.

Camp. Many campgrounds remain open and, with children back in school, the crowds are gone. If you can sneak out during the week, plenty of solitude awaits.

Backpack. The same applies to backcountry sites. You won’t necessarily be alone – lots of people love the season – but there’s room to share.

Fish. The dog days of summer, which can make being on the water an endurance test, are just about gone. The fish feel it, too. The action often picks up as they feed more aggressively before winter.

Hunt. Not every piece of public land is open to hunting. But there’s plenty of opportunity out there.

Combine activities. Want to camp and hunt? Backpack and fish? Paddle to a remote site and then hike? Public land offers chances to do it all.

So get up, get out and enjoy America’s public lands. Nature, as with Brandywine Falls at Cuyahoga, has been working a long time to prepare things for you.

Bob Frye is the editor. Reach him at 412-216-0193 or [email protected] See other stories, blogs, videos and more at

Article by Bob Frye, Everybody Adventures,

Copyright © 535media, LLC

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.