Trail Raisers

Sure, the journey may be the most important part, but having a destination makes everything a lot more fun.
Sandy Ridge Marsh

-  Round-trip Distance: 2 miles

-  Where: Lorain County Metro Parks Sandy Ridge Marsh Reservation, Perry F. Johnson Wetland Center, 6195 Otten Road, North Ridgeville,

-  Walk half a mile through a wooden trail, and then — bam! — everything suddenly opens into a more than 100-acre wetland. The loop trail takes you through the marsh preserve. Keep your eyes open for more than 100 kinds of birds, including bald eagles that have resided in the park since 2002.
Deer Lick Cave

-  Round-trip Distance: 5 miles

-  Where: Cleveland Metroparks Brecksville Reservation, Chippewa Creek Drive off state Route 82, Brecksville,

-  The mostly woodland canopy makes this hilly path to Deer Lick Cave a nice trail for a hot day. But nothing can compare to the cool temperatures under the erosion-resistant Berea sandstone overhang. Pack a lunch and plan to chill here for a while.
Jackson Field

-  Round-trip Distance: 6 miles

-  Where: Cleveland Metroparks, South Chagrin Reservation Polo Field, off of South Woodland Road and Chagrin River Road, Moreland Hills, follow the Bridle Trail from the Polo Field and along the Chagrin River for about three miles,

-  All of the Cleveland Metroparks 16 parks feature meadows designed specifically for sun-loving summer wildflower blooms. But if you have to choose one, this is it.

Worden's Ledges

-  Round-trip Distance: 1/2 mile

-  Where: Cleveland Metroparks Hinckley Reservation, 895 Ledge Road, Hinckley, head past the Worden Heritage Homestead and take a right at the barn, walk down a hill and take an immediate right, walking a little ways down to the unmarked trail,

-  The trek to Worden's Ledges rewards you with the out-of-place etchings of a sphinx and George Washington's bust carved in sandstone by artist Noble Stuart (the son-in-law of Hiram Worden who owned the home you pass) more than 50 years ago.

Steep Shale Bluffs

-  Round-trip Distance: 2 miles

-  Where: Hach-Otis Sanctuary State Nature Preserve, 37142 Skyline Drive, Willoughby Hills,

-  You'll need binoculars and a bird-identification book once you reach this cliff overlooking the Chagrin River Valley. Dozens of birds use this area as a migratory pit stop, including bank swallows, kingfishers and 27 species of warblers snacking on insects in the trees.


Cascade Falls

-  Round-trip Distance: 2 miles

-  Where: Nelson-Kennedy Ledges State Park, state Route 282, about two miles south of U.S. 422, Garrettsville, start at the southern trailhead near the parking lot on state Route 282,

-  Just getting here is half the adventure — you'll walk, crawl and climb through several caves before taking a boardwalk to view the 35-foot falls. Snake your way through the paths to the left (they will come full circle) that will take you by Fat Man's Peril and have you crawling under Dwarf's Pass and sneaking through Old Maid's Kitchen. It's like nature's two-mile obstacle course.

Butterfly Walk

-  Round-trip Distance: 1 mile

-  Where: Mentor Marsh State Nature Preserve, Carol Sweet Nature Center, 5185 Corduroy Road, Mentor,

-  The Kerven Trail may seem like an uneventful walk through the forest. But toward the end of the loop (go to the right at the start), you can jut off to the left toward an open field that's only mowed once every few years to create a natural habitat for butterflies, primarily monarchs, that stop here as they migrate.

Beaver Pond

-  Round-trip Distance: 1 mile

-  Where: Eagle Creek State Nature Preserve, 11027 Hopkins Road, Garrettsville,

-  Pack your bug repellent and go hunting for wildlife at the Eagle Creek State Nature Preserve. From the two-story observation blind on Beaver Pond, you can see beavers, great blue herons and snapping turtles. Start at the preserve's main parking lot, follow the mile-long Clubmoss Trail and take the first right toward the cranberry-growing Sphagnum Bog, which is worth a quick stop to look for carnivorous pitcher and sundew plants.
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