Finding the highway to Helltown
Who wants to relax on the beach when they could be chasing ghosts, investigating cults or tracing the paths of serial killers? In the Buckeye State, you can encounter spooky stories to send shivers down your spine – enough of them to last a lifetime, or at least this lifetime – but you'll have to make your way to a place called Helltown.
Is it real?
Do a Google Maps search of "Helltown, Ohio," and you'll see that nothing comes up. That's because Helltown isn't the area's official name.
Formally known as Boston Township, Ohio, the region got its otherworldly nickname in 1974 after legislation from President Ford decreed the Summit County area to become a national park. The government bought several houses and boarded them up with the intention of eventually razing them to create more land for the national park. The houses were never destroyed, however, creating an abandoned ghost town atmosphere that spooked visitors and tourists.
How to get there
Helltown and Boston Township are located within the Cuyahoga
The area is easily accessible from several major cities in Ohio. If you're coming from outside a driving distance, though, flying into Cleveland is the most convenient route. There is no public transportation to the area, so driving–possibly renting a car–is your only option.
The best route
The best way to get there is by driving from one of the nearby urban areas. From Cleveland, the area is a quick 30-minute drive down I-77 South. From Akron, Ohio, it's a mere 20-minute drive north via either Riverview Road or OH-8 North. From Columbus, Ohio, Helltown is about a two-hour drive on I-71 North; take the same route if coming from Cincinnati, and expect about a 3.5-hour drive.
During the summer, the road to Helltown is paved with good intentions–and other tourists and vacationers visiting the national park. Leave early to avoid traffic when visiting during the summer, especially on the weekends.
Parking is available in several different areas of Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Park officials recommend parking at the Ledges trail area during peak hours, since there's a large lot that usually has spaces available. Another available option involves parking at the Canal Exploration Center. The parking lots at Brandywine Falls and Blue Hen Falls are much smaller, so avoid those during crowded times.
Yes, it freezes over
Despite its name, the weather in Helltown varies seasonally, offering visitors hot, humid temperatures in the summer and below-freezing temperatures in the winter. The park is open daily, 24 hours a day, with the exception of areas that close at dusk (check the National Park Service website for up-to-date information).
If you choose to visit during summer, remember that temperatures can range from 49 degrees F to nearly 100 degrees F. With such variable temperatures, the National Park Service recommends dressing in layers. Since Helltown is located within a national park, summer tends to be the most crowded time to visit, so plan accordingly, and go early in the day to avoid the crowds.
In the fall, temperatures can climb as high as 70 degrees F during the day and plunge to freezing during the night. Fall foliage peaks around mid-October, so Halloween is an especially beautiful time to visit–especially if you're looking for the spookiest experience possible.
During winter, expect temperatures to be in the mid-30s and below. Due to the area's proximity to Lake Erie, lake-effect snow can cause weather conditions to change rapidly. Look at the weather forecast before you go, and take all necessary precautions for being outdoors in cold weather.
A little haunting, a little hiking
Are you ready to become an amateur ghost hunter? Most of the area's famously abandoned haunts and spooky spots have been lost to time and new construction, requiring thrill-seekers to do a little research about the area's legends and myths before visiting. Boston Township and the surrounding Cuyahoga Valley National Park are more focused on family-friendly national park activities than decades-old ghost stories, so don't expect signs and tours describing the area's creepy past.
Northern Ohio has plenty of ghost walks and haunted houses to explore, especially during the fall. For an extra-chilling time, do some advance planning and pair your trip to Helltown with one of these ghost tours.
To dial down the spook factor, jump into some of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park activities that keep all ages occupied. Take advantage of the park's 125 miles of biking trails, waterfall hikes and scenic train rides to keep your mind off the ghost stories–if you dare.