The Cleveland Metroparks is a sprawling public park system.
Every year, tens of thousands of people enjoy the Cleveland Metroparks system. A legacy of great Cleveland native, Jeptha Wade, the parks system was left to ensure that the whole place wasn’t plowed over and turned into retail parking by the greedy developers. Without this massive endowment, one shudders to think what would have become of the Western Reserve.
The Cleveland Metropark system offers just about everything an outdoor enthusiast could look for all seasons of the year. Offering miles of all-purpose trails, hiking trails, bridle trails, and fitness trails with some of Northeast Ohio’s prettiest scenery it is easy to see why the Metroparks are so popular. Some offer golf, fishing, picnic areas with charcoal grills, and swimming. In the winter, tobogganing and cross country skiing are popular. The Metropark Zoo is also a part of the Metropark system.
Entrance to the parks is free, except for the Zoo and other special events that take place. Some offer gift shops, nature centers, and general history. Like that of Squire’s Castle, located in the South Euclid Reservation, which is rumored to be haunted by Mrs. Squire, who died mysteriously in the gatehouse.
The Cleveland Metroparks is a 14 reservation system that covers over 20,000 acres of land. The Metropark system is also referred to as the “Emerald Necklace”, and consists of the following Metroparks:
- Hinckley Reservation
- Euclid Creek Reservation
- Rocky River Reservation
- Big Creek Reservation
- Ohio & Erie Canal Reservation
- Garfield Park Reservation
- Mill Stream Run Reservation
- Bedford Reservation
- Bradley Woods Reservation
- Brecksville Reservation
- Brookside Reservation
- Huntington Reservation
- North Chagrin Reservation
- South Chagrin Reservation
Metroparks are open daily from 6:00 AM until 11:00 PM.
Along with the sprawling Metropark systems, another nature retreat is the Cleveland Botanical Garden A fun stop at any time of the year.
Best Hiking trails in Cleveland Metroparks
There are over 100 hiking trails in the Cleveland Metroparks and we’ve picked out 5 of the most scenic natural-surface trails to get you out of the house.
1. Deer Lick Loop in the Brecksville Reservation
See the Deer Lick Cave rock overhang, mossy boulders, a seasonal waterfall, and a peaceful stream along this 4-mile loop trail through the interior of the Brecksville Reservation. Multiple books about Ohio hiking trails list this trail as one of the best in Northeast Ohio.
2. Henry Church, Jr. Rock Loop in the South Chagrin Reservation
There are some great surprises on this trail if you’ve never been here. A rock carving from 1885 stops you in your tracks. A seasonal waterfall drops over a rock wall high above you. There’s a wide waterfall on the Chagrin River on the north side of the loop. The trail is about 0.6 miles with a lot of elevation change and steps.
3. Tinker’s Creek Gorge Bridle Trail in the Bedford Reservation
This 6.8-mile loop circles Tinker’s Creek. Please give right-of-way to horseback riders and remember that there are water crossings if you do the whole loop. I’d recommend the trailhead at the end of Button Road on the north side of the loop. It takes you down to the edge of Tinker’s Creek where the scenery is beautiful! On the southern side of the loop, you can see the Tinker’s Creek Gorge Scenic Overlook and Bridal Veil Falls.
4. Mill Stream Run Bridle Trail
Starting at Wallace Lake, this is one of the longest unpaved trails in the Metroparks, 16 miles out-and-back. Make sure to stop at the Strongsville Wildlife Area.
5. Fort Hill Loop in the Rocky River Reservation
There are two connector trails on the northern end of the Fort Hill Loop that should still give you access. Pass the Rocky River Nature Center, follow the West Channel Pond Loop and the Wildlife Management Loop. You will see 2 different trails leading up to the Fort Hill Loop. Please remember to maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from other guests.
Rocky River Reservation
The Rocky River Reservation is one of the largest of Northeast Ohio’s Metroparks. It is also one of the most beautiful.
Visiting the park on a spring day turned out to be a great day to see some early spring views of an area that is very serene, considering just how close it is to a bustling urban area.
You can walk for hours on any of the many nature trails available at the park. There’s nothing quite like the feeling you get on a warm day walking through nature. On the day I visited, you could sense the jubilation of people who were getting outside for the first time in many, cold months! The feeling was infectious. It was pure joy to be reveling in nature at the Rocky River Reservation.
See the Amazing Plunk Fish, or rather what remains of it. After all, this creature inhabited North Olmsted over 360 million years ago! This steel-plated fish could eat small sharks.
Mill Stream Run
The Mill Stream Metropark is home to “The Chalet Recreation Area”. This recreation area always has activities for families of all ages. The Chalet offers hot and cold beverages and concession style food. The Chalet also has several fireplaces that you will find glowing when they have scheduled events in the autumn and winter.
- Autumn Hayrides. These are offered throughout the month of October on Saturday nights (6-10 PM) and Sunday afternoons (12:00-4 PM). Be sure to arrive early, as the hayrides are quite popular! If you just like to people watch under a harvest moon, this is a great way to spend a Saturday night. No charge to people watch, $5.00-$7.00, children 2 and under are Free.
- Tobogganing. Dry ice keeps these toboggan shoots open throughout the winter months. Gloves are required for every rider. You can pay for one time down, or pay for an entire afternoon of tobogganing fun. Be sure to bring lots of energy with you, you have to carry your own toboggan, and they weigh at least 25 pounds.
- Fitness trails. Like all of Cleveland’s Metroparks, you can find fitness trails for walking and enjoying the great beauty of Ohio in her glory.
- Picnic areas. Enjoy a picnic at the Mill Stream Run Metropark. Covered picnic areas are available by reservation for your next outdoor get-together.
Along with fishing, sledding, and ball fields, this Metropark shouldn’t be missed!
Euclid Beach Pier
A new pier complete with views of downtown Cleveland, the sunset, and features that pay homage to the history of Euclid Beach Park is now open. The 315-foot-pier partially extends over Lake Erie and is the latest addition in a series of ongoing park improvements that began in 2013, when the Cleveland Metroparks acquired that portion of lakefront. The pier itself was designed for the views.
Cleveland Botanical Gardens
The Cleveland Botanical Gardens are a great pick if you are looking for an afternoon outside of your home surroundings. With both inside and outside gardens, you can enjoy the smell of fresh blooming flowers in the Japanese Garden, The Rose Garden, or any other themed gardens.
Indoors, the tropical gardens of Costa Rica, and the Island Paradise of Madagascar await visitors. Be sure to look for the creatures that live in the trunks of trees! Turtles, porcupines and giant cockroaches are natives to the area, and live there, too!
Costa Rica houses an army of Carpenter ants and a cloud forest filled with hundreds of butterflies and birds. All of this, plus a gift store can be found at the Glass House.
Admission for members is Free. You can inquire about membership at the sales desk.
If non-member, Adult admission is $7.00, Kids $3.00. Parking is available onsite for a fee.
Contact information: Cleveland Botanical Garden in University Circle 11030 East Boulevard Cleveland, Ohio 44106 Tel: 216-721-1600 Fax: 216.721.2056