You don’t have to travel far for a scenic adventure this summer. Northeast Ohio’s parks have plenty of world-class trails (we are home to a national park after all) that’ll take you to waterfalls, wildlife and gorgeous views. Whether you’re one of the many nature newbies who flocked to parks for the first time during pandemic-induced shutdowns or a seasoned hiker looking to put some miles on your hiking boots, here are some of our favorite local treks.
Chapin Forest Reservation’s Lucky Stone Loop Trail
On a clear day, you can see Lake Erie and the downtown Cleveland skyline from the overlook on this 1.6-mile Lake County trail. The overlook perches on top of 300-million-year-old Sharon Conglomerate rock ledges tucked in a towering forest and tiny, quartz stones, called “lucky stones,” glitter on the gravel trail. “You can see so much,” says Caitlin Ambrose, interpretive manager at Lake Metroparks. “You have the ledges, the overlook and a lot of different types of wildflowers, trees and wildlife.” lakemetroparks.com
Cuyahoga Valley National Park’s Brandywine Gorge Trail
Popular for its boardwalk offering stunning views of the 65-foot Brandywine Falls, you’ll want to get here early to beat the crowds. The almost-1.5-mile trail loops over the top of the falls and around the gorge to cross over Brandywine Creek (head clockwise for the best views). “I love that trail for the forested parts,” says park ranger Pam Machuga. “People will get to the bottom and kids will skip rocks and they’ll have a picnic down there.” nps.gov/cuva
Rocky River Reservation’s Fort Hill Loop Trail
Climb 155 stairs (it’s worth it) to the top of Fort Hill for some of the best views in all of the Cleveland Metroparks on this 1-mile loop. “You’re up about 90 feet above the river,” says Karen Lakus, naturalist at Rocky River Reservation nature center. “You get amazing views of the Rocky River Valley, and the shale cliff where many fossil finds have been made.” Head into the woods on top of Fort Hill to see 2,000-year-old Native American earthworks and then loop down the hill and back to the nature center. clevelandmetroparks.com