Brandywine Falls is one of the most popular destinations inside the relatively new Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Its flow changes with the seasons, becoming a ranging torrent in spring and revealing a bridal-veil pattern in fall. I was intrigued by the swirling currents and the stranded tree at the base of the falls. ********
Carved by Brandywine Creek, the 65-foot falls demonstrates classic geological features of waterfalls. A layer of hard rock caps the waterfall, protecting softer layers of rock below. In this case, the top layer is Berea Sandstone. The softer layers include Bedford and Cleveland shales, soft rocks formed from mud found on the sea floor that covered this area 350-400 million years ago. Shale is thinly chunked, giving water a bridal veil appearance as it cascades down the falls.
A combination of boardwalk and steps brings you into the waterfall's gorge and lets you view the waterfall head-on (a boardwalk option without stairs is also available). The boardwalk also provides a close look at Berea Sandstone. Careful inspection will reveal the individual grains of sand that accumulated in a sea 320 million years ago. Berea Sandstone is high quality sandstone found commonly throughout this area, both in nature and as a construction material used in buildings and canal locks.
The moistness of the gorge is evident as you walk along boardwalk. The moisture invites moss to grow on the sandstone and eastern hemlocks, a type of evergreen tree, to grow along the gorge. The hemlocks contrast with the abundant red maple trees in the area, which flame with color in the fall.
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