LENGTH: 13 miles
SOURCE: Black River East Branch and Black River West Branch, meeting in Elyria
MOUTH: Lake Erie, Lorain
You know the Black River from the Charles Berry drawbridge, which clangs aloft in downtown Lorain for barges passing to the Republic Steel mill upriver. Once dubbed the “river of fish tumors,” it has received more than $23.5 million to remediate the area since 2010. Now you can find waterside trails rich with wildlife and scenic strolls galore. From its industrial past, a green future is blooming.
EXPLORE: On trails in the Black River Reservation, you can see both the river’s steely past and verdant future. The 4 1/2 mile paved Bridgeway Trail winds along beside the shale cliffs overlooking the riverbed and over a bridge that crosses high above the water. The Steel Mill Trail, about 2 miles long, heads north from the Days Dam trailhead to see the stacks of the Republic Steel mill and its towering gray slag heaps. And for the grand finale, head upriver to the source — Cascade Park in downtown Elyria, where the waterfall offers a misting, photo-finish Instagram spot.
FIN, FEATHER, FUR: Due to the work of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, wildlife in the Black River Reservation is making a comeback. You might catch sight of a beaver or two, plus swooping eagles, wood ducks, songbirds, meadowlarks and eastern bluebirds flitting across and trilling beside the trails.
EXPERT TAKE: Pack a basket and make your lunch picnic-style at one of Black River Reservation’s three waterside picnic areas at Bur Oak, Days Dam or High Meadows. High Meadows is the best for families, with a playground to keep the tots busy.