UPDATED JAN 28, 2020
With miles of wooded areas and streams, Cleveland’s trails are calling our name. And no wonder — these thrilling paths are only a short drive away, so there's no reason not to get out there and take a hike. To help with your outdoor adventures, we put together a list with some of the best in the area.
The trails of Black River Reservation are the star of the show in Lorain County Metroparks. Just 35 minutes south of the city, you can engulf yourself in nature’s simplistic beauty in this reservation. Find your way towards the Bridgeway Trail, a 9.7-mile multiuse trail where you can run, walk, hike, or scooter across the 1,000-ft. bridge with views of the river. You can take a breather at some historic resting spots before hitting the trails again.
Ledges Hiking Trail inside the Cuyahoga Valley National Park is the perfect spot to go when you crave some outdoor adventure. You can start by the Happy Days Lodge (which you will eventually loop back to) and follow the 2.2-mile path towards the 50-ft. deep Ice Box Cave, a nice cool down after some moderately challenging hiking.
It’s hard to imagine 390 acres of lush greenery and thousand-year-old rocks just 25 minutes outside of hectic downtown Cleveland. But at Chapin Forest Reservation, you can get all the fresh air you need while hiking along the Metroparks lake. Pass by the Historic Standard Quarry (quartz pebbles in sandstone) during this 6-mile trail. Visit during the winter for some snowshoeing and cross country skiing (rental equipment is available onsite).
Cuyahoga Valley National Park has over 240 species of documented birds and has been named an Important Bird Area by the National Audubon Society. You can observe the many different species while discovering new paths around Beaver Marsh Boardwalk, an area that runs along the Erie Canal. Aside from the birds, keep an eye out for beavers and turtles during your hike.
The Huntington Reservation Trail, right off of the shores of Lake Erie and west of downtown, is one of Cleveland’s great outdoor locales. Many people flock to Huntington Beach in the summer months, but the trails next to the beach are also a great way to the spend an afternoon. There are beautiful views of the lake, and if you look hard enough, you can even see Cleveland’s skyline. Bring the whole family for an evening at the beach after a long day exploring the woods.
In the 19th century, a man named Richard Rowe settled inside this rock shelter in what is now Hocking Hills State Park. It is believed that he is buried beneath the area, which is now called Old Man’s Cave. Uncover the beauty of this historic, one-of-a-kind cave that's nearly a mile long and decorated with waterfalls, ledges, trails, and rock bridges.
Take a trip towards Akron and Summit Metroparks to hike through the Gorge! This 1.8-mile trail is rated a 3 (out of 3) by the park’s difficulty rating, but its beauty makes it worth it. So if you’re ready for a challenge and a good sweat – take on the gorge! If you prefer something a bit more tame, there are also wooded trails along the aged rock that are wheelchair and stroller accessible, making the Gorge a trail for hikers of all kinds.
Thousands of years ago, the massive rocks and boulders in this area were underwater. Now, they have salt residue embedded in them. Since salt is a mineral many taste buds appreciate, deer travel along the 3.9-mile trail to get a lick of these rocks. The overhang of sandstone makes it the perfect rugged hiking stop in every season. Plus, you might get lucky enough to see these herbivores in action!
See Lake Erie from a whole new angle, hike along the paths of Lake Erie Bluffs. There are 600-acres of open spaces for hiking, fishing, and beach bumming. Spend the entire day discovering views on the bluffs to see the Lake in a whole new light.
The Mentor Marsh Nature Center was Ohio's first state nature preserve, and it's a prime area for hikes and wildlife observations. Get out and uncover this 700-acre marsh land owned by the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. Fitt tip: rent a pair of binoculars to get a look at the birds up close.
Nelson Ledges Quarry Park is a 50-minute ride southeast of downtown. It’s one of the only parks that is open 24/7 with 250 acres of ledges and meadows to hike through. There are 400 campsites, swimming areas, snorkeling activities, and more. With so many trails and woods to get through, this park is definitely worth a visit or a weekend getaway.
The “towpath” gets a lot of chatter around Cleveland. The name may seem confusing, but it's just an 85-mile route that travels along the Ohio & Erie Canal with the help of the Cuyahoga River. The trail runs through Cuyahoga, Summit, Stark, and Tuscarawas Counties and gives you the opportunity to see plenty of landmarks, streams, bridges, and, of course, beautiful woodlands.
Thanks to Walter C. Best’s (former sand corporation owner) love of the outdoors and water life, his family donated the lake to the Geauga Park District in the late 60's. The preserve has three trails totaling 1.6 miles and is completely wheelchair, stroller, and cane accessible. You'll find fishing platforms, wildlife observation areas, and a beautiful view of the prairies and water along the hiking trails.
Portage Lakes State Park in Akron has everything for an outdoor day of fun. This park boasts four hiking trails, a dog park, fishing, and disk golf. There are over eight miles of trails to explore before cooling off in Turkeyfoot or Rex Lake. Enjoy the park even more; you can take a boat out on the water, have a picnic and sweat it out playing some volleyball before hiking back to your starting point.
Thousands of years ago, the cliffs and ledges that surround this park were once the beaches of Lake Erie. Nowadays, the Princess Ledges Nature Preserve is a perfect wooded area that is rarely disrupted in order to protect the wildlife and greenery. The preserve is over 1,000 feet long with rows of wildflowers and dirt trails and two trails totaling 1.5 miles.
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