I went to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park last Sunday in search of autumn color. What I found was a mixed bag.
There were places where the foliage was at its peak. There were places where most of the leaves were gone.
And then there were places where the leaves were still quite green, most notably on the hillsides surrounding Peninsula.
Nonetheless, the park had the look of fall and it even had the smell of fall. It was a good day to be out.
I didn’t get to the park in time to catch the first southbound Scenic train, so I drove along Riverview Road scouting for color.
Unlike in previous years, the Scenic did not have a double-headed motive power consist. RS18u No. 1822 was pulling on the south end while Horizon Rail GP10-1 No. 8420 was on the point on the north end.
You can count on the Scenic running late during the fall foliage season due to the high number of leaf peepers and bicyclists aboard.
Yet the first pair of trips of the day ran pretty much on time. That was the case with the second trip of the day until it got to Brecksville.
Brecksville is a popular bike stop and the Scenic starting losing time from there southward.
One of the most colorful locations was at Everett where a number of trees at their peak color stood on the west side of the tracks.
Otherwise it was a matter of finding spot color. I skipped Brecksville because the trees around the station are past peak and the forest north of the Ohio Route 82 bridge had yet to reach its peak.
Likewise, I bypassed Peninsula because the rich colors that I know can be found there every year have yet to show up.
So it was a matter of getting the 1822 next to a colorful tree near Ira Road and a small stand of color near the Valley Picnic Area south of Peninsula.
I also tried something new at Jaite, shooting down Vaughn Road looking west toward the grade crossing.
That shot would have worked better with the first southbound trip when the sun was more to the east.
It also works best if there are no vehicles waiting at the crossing. That was the case when the train arrived. Then I saw an SUV approaching from the east.
The driver must be a photographer because he or she stopped behind me so that I had a clear road leading to the crossing.
I had to get back home by 3 p.m. so I didn’t spend as much time in the valley as I would have liked.
With any luck at all there will be more sun and plenty of color this weekend.
Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders
Tags: autumn colors, autumn gold, autumn photography, Cuyahoga River, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, CVSR 1822, CVSR locomotives, CVSR motive power, CVSR passenger trains, fall color, Fall foliage, Horizon Rail 8420, HZRX 8420, railroads in autumn