Beaver Marsh, Cuyahoga Valley National Park One-quarter mile north of the Ira Trailhead, Ira and Riverview roads; Akron
Thick beaver pelts were quite the catch in the 19th century, and the buck-toothed rodents of the Cuyahoga River Valley suffered because of it. Scientists believe the beaver was trapped to local extinction by about 1830. But the beavers mounted a comeback 150 years ago, and the best place to see them is on the Cuyahoga Valley National Park towpath, about a mile south of the Hunt Farm Visitor Information Center. Here, beavers dammed the canal, creating a shallow marsh in an old auto salvage yard that's covered with lily pads, rushes, and gorgeous wildflowers. Park Ranger Paul Motts estimates that some 14 beavers have made the area their home. It also teems with ducks, frogs, turtles, fish, and people, the latter stopping on the long bridge to enjoy the view. While the best time to see a beaver is at dusk, their handiwork is on display at all hours: Visitors can spot trees stripped of bark and stumps gnawed to a fine point.