Blue Hen Falls to Buttermilk Falls
By Nicole Brown, Girls Who Hike Ohio Ambassador
This past Saturday, I thought it would be fun to see some waterfalls. I’ve heard of Blue Hen Falls in CVNP and saw that it was only a .5 mile hike to the waterfall from the parking lot. I almost planned a second hike that day since I wanted more miles but then I saw that there is an unofficial trail past Blue Hen Falls to Buttermilk Falls and I was thrilled. There’s little information about Buttermilk Falls and how to get there on the internet. When I searched on Instagram for the two waterfalls, I fell in love with the pictures and decided to give it a shot and hike to both falls. I hiked solo but I would recommend bringing a friend.
There are two parking areas. The first is right by the trail when your GPS tells you to turn into the woods. That lot only holds three cars. I arrived at 8:30 am so there was a spot for me but if you plan to go later than that then I suggest parking in the other area. The second area is across the street, you can’t miss it. It looked like it could hold maybe ten cars. I suggest hiking this trail in the beginning of the day just so it’s not busy and you have somewhere to park.
When you start your hike to Blue Hen Falls, it’s a downward uneven sandstone path. I’m sure the path is fine in the warmer months but when I went, the ground was still icy in some parts since it's still Febuary. After five minutes of walking downward on the path, I fell because I wasn’t paying attention to the ice. I, of course, got up right away and made sure no one saw me wipe out and continued casually down the path like nothing happened. My knees got a little scratched up, but I was fine. After walking a couple minutes, you will reach a cute bridge that is over a stream. After that, you will start to hear the falls water roaring. You’ll be able to see the Blue Hen Falls below, there’s a picket fence where you can stand and take pictures.
There’s also some wooden seats if you wish to relax. Now, for me, getting down to the falls was a little difficult. It was icy and extremely muddy so everything was slippery. There’s different ways to get down there, I would just use your best judgement and what way you feel comfortable going down. But once you get down there, it’s incredible. Plenty of places to take pictures or just stand there in awe. Blue Hen Falls is a 15-foot (4.6m) falls which flows over hard Berea sandstone capping softer Bedford Shale.
To get to Buttermilk Falls, you start where you see the sign that says “End of Trail”. You can tell people have walked this trail even though it’s not an official trail. The trail follows the stream. The trail was a range of muddy and icy. I had to go over several tree trunks, no big deal. When I got to the crossing of the streams, that’s when I had to make decisions on what trail is best because I realized there were different ones. You pass through the stream three times. Some people choose to go through the steam and some people I could tell decided to go above on the hills to avoid it by seeing the trail prints. I went very early so no one else was around to watch and see how they crossed the stream. It had been raining the whole week before so the water was high in my opinion. Luckily my hiking boots are water proof but most of the time I was attempting to cross by stepping on the rocks. I failed many times and did that awkward balancing on one foot and making an awkward squeal hoping to not fall into the water. That definitely tested my balancing skills. When you finally get close to the falls, there’s a steep hill you must climb up. Once you’re up there, you can hear the water roaring. You must go around the long way and go down this steep hill. Hiking to Buttermilk Falls felt like an accomplishment to me mainly because I went solo and there aren’t any signs. But it was well worth it. I had the falls all to myself and it felt amazing. It was beautiful and refreshing. The water further up before the falls had such a pretty blue color. Buttermilk Falls is a 20-foot (6.1m) high falls that cascades over a steep layered shale cliff. Presumably it was named “Buttermilk” because the water looks white as it ripples down a multitude of shale layers. This a there and back trail, not a lope. If you have located in Northeast Ohio, I really recommend exploring these two waterfalls. Happy Hiking!