Cuyahoga Valley NP--Indigo Lake

About this Location

A large, bowl-shaped, scenic lake that truly glows the color of [blue] indigo, Indigo Lake is a lesser-known birding locale but a favorite area for hikers, cross-country skiers, and anglers. The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad makes an official station stop at the Indigo Lake Trailhead along the Towpath Trail, but otherwise, the open view and surrounding grassy hills make for a quiet venture for the outdoor enthusiast.

Indigo Lake’s deep depth draws migrant waterfowl, loons, and grebes, a surprising and almost “unlikely” location smack-dab in the middle of the National Park. Top highlight species that have been found during Spring and Fall migration include rare Long-tailed Duck and Red-necked Grebe. More regularly, Redhead, Canvasback, Ruddy Duck, Ring-necked Duck, Pied-billed and Horned Grebes, and even Common Loons will put down on Indigo. Common Summer waterbirds on the lake include Green and Great Blue Herons, Mallard and Wood Duck, American Coot, Northern Rough-winged and Tree Swallows, Yellow Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Belted Kingfisher, and Spotted Sandpiper.

The surrounding fields and second growth woodland edges are active during Summer with nesting Orchard and Baltimore Orioles, Blue-winged Warblers, Field and Song Sparrows, Eastern Towhee, Eastern Kingbird and Willow Flycatcher, Eastern Phoebe, Gray Catbird, and Brown Thrasher.

With an excellent open view overhead, look for migrant or local soaring Red-tailed, Red-shouldered, Cooper’s and Broad-winged Hawks, Bald Eagle, and sometimes Osprey. Migrant Merlin and American Kestrel have been seen in the past. The site is quite quiet in the Winter months, but the shrubby fields are home to Dark-eyed Junco, American Tree Sparrow, and rarely, in the past, Northern Shrike.

Wildlife that may be seen include White-tailed Deer, Coyote, Muskrat, Raccoon, Opossum, skunk, rabbit, and fox are resident mammals. Fishers will find a healthy population of bluegill and bass.

About Cuyahoga Valley National Park

See all hotspots at Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Though a short distance from the urban areas of Cleveland and Akron, Cuyahoga Valley National Park seems worlds away. The park is a refuge for native plants and wildlife and provides routes of discovery for visitors. The winding Cuyahoga River gives way to deep forests, rolling hills, and open farmlands. Walk or ride the Towpath Trail to follow the historic route of the Ohio & Erie Canal.

Warning: All areas of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park are prone to deer ticks from the early spring until late fall, so prepare accordingly before birding.

Restrooms at locations identified on Cuyahoga Valley National Park map. Most areas have non-flush toilets; there are flush toilets available at the Pine Hollow parking lot on Quick Road and the Virginia Kendall Lake lodge building.


  • Restrooms on site

  • Wheelchair accessible trail

  • Entrance fee

  • Roadside viewing

Content from Cuyahoga Valley National Park website and Ohio Ornithological Society