LENGTH: 102 miles
SOURCE: Parkman Township
MOUTH: Lake Erie, Fairport Harbor
The Grand River is just that — a grand escape into the Northeast Ohio wilds. The 102-mile-long river is one of only three wild and scenic rivers in Ohio and borders on 12 Lake Metroparks as it twists and turns through an expansive wilderness of wetland and swamp forests. Its slow-moving waters run under three covered bridges and across five counties, providing visitors with more than 50 miles of accessible fishing.
EXPLORE: If you want to go hog wild, head to Hogback Ridge Park where you’ll find a 625-acre trail system that explores hardwood forests, hemlock ridges and flood plains rich with flora and fauna. Rivergoers looking for a more intimate experience should land a guided kayak tour out of the Fairport Harbor Lakefront Park. “Some people who’ve lived here for years still don’t know what’s down the river,” says Jim Hughey, Lake Metroparks outdoor education manager. “If I can get them down the river to see all the beautiful sights — like a bald eagle sitting above you when you’re going under the 90 freeway — that’s really cool.”
FIN, FEATHER, FUR: The Grand River’s gentle waters and neighboring wetlands produces an abundance of wildlife ranging from high-flying eagles and ospreys to up to 87 species of fish and around 22 species of freshwater mussels. A fall run of trout and salmon from Pennsylvania and New York and an annual release of Little Manistee steelhead by the Ohio Division of Wildlife turns the Grand into an excellent fishery from October to May with 10 distinct fishing spots such as Hidden Valley Park, Harpersfield Dam and Mason’s Landing.
EXPERT TAKE: Grand River Manor, the oldest tavern in Ashtabula County, sits snugly beside the Mechanicsville Covered Bridge, which stems back to 1867. The 1/2-pound burger and wing joint hosts live music every Saturday night in the summer.