Beyond the Cleveland Metroparks Trail Challenge 2020: Part Three (Additional Thirteen Trails)

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Julie Smith
Stuart O. Smith, Jr.

Beyond the Cleveland Metroparks Trail Challenge 2020: Part Three (Additional Thirteen Trails)
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2020 has been different, with many of the venues we would normally visit closed due to the coronavirus crisis.

Besides visiting the Cleveland Museum of Art (see our blog post about being invited to their reopening), we have mostly limited our time leaving our home cocoon for only getting food or visiting parks in the five counties in our area. We have written several "Social Distancing" blog posts about our 2020 park visits, Stuart completing the over-250-mile Buckeye Trail "Little Loop," and other COVID-19-safe activities.

We were very pleased when the Cleveland Metroparks announced in May 2020 that they would be offering their fourth annual Trail Challenge, which included 25 trails. In August 2020, we learned that the park updated the list to include 35 trails! (See the park's 2020 Trail Challenge PDF 2.8MB file.)

The increase in the number of trails did not change the requirements for receiving the 2020 Challenge prizes . . .

  • Complete 10 trails to  earn a 2020 Trail Challenge sticker

  • Complete 20 trails to earn a 2020 Trail Challenge mug

. . . but we enjoy a challenge (and enjoy hiking/biking trails), and decided to do more than the minimum. This blog post shares our journey on all but one of the remaining land-based trails. (We skipped three of the five water trails, since the venues did not have kayak rentals available this year.) See Stuart's 2020 Trail Challenge tracker sheet (3.6MB PDF File) with notes on the 33 trails.

Please learn more about the first 20 Trail Challenge 2020 trails we completed, and the parks we explored in our blog Posts:

We hope this blog post encourages you to discover more of the parks in our Cleveland Metroparks System!



Trail #21) Tuesday, October 13, 2020 - Lake to Lake Trail, Big Creek Reservation

4.8 miles: Lake to Lake Trail
Start at either Lake Isaac or the Eastland Rd. Trailhead and enjoy this out-and-back trail as you enjoy boardwalks, marshes and wonderful interpretive information along the way.

Big Creek Reservation

Undoubtedly the highlight of the reservation is the Lake to Lake Trail, a 2.4 mile, universally accessible all purpose trail that connects Lake Abram to Lake Isaac. On foot, by bicycle, or by wheelchair, one crosses Abram Creek and Bagley Road as they travel the trail that passes through 175 acres of headwater wetlands joining the largest wetlands in Cuyahoga County.

Fowles Marsh

Once part of an extensive wetland network that included nearby Lake Abram and Lake Isaac, Fowles Marsh was historically drained for onion and celery farming. Today it has been restored to a large open marshland with mudflats that are inviting to several species of waterfowl.

Lake Abram Marsh

Lake Abram is the largest remaining glacial wetland in Cuyahoga County. With its surrounding marsh and upland areas, Lake Abram makes up 80 acres of unique and critical wildlife habitat that is home to migratory birds, waterfowl, wild turkey and much more. A boardwalk stretching nearly 0.25 miles offers scenic views of the expansive wetland complex.

The pre-historic play pit and Mastodon dig site are a fun place for kids to explore and experience what it may be like to be a scientist on a real dig site.

We enjoyed this unique ride over marshlands, ending at the "Mastodon dig site." We were also impressed how this All Purpose Trail connected to the local hospital, school, and residential area. We think it is great when the Cleveland Metroparks connects its all purpose trails to the local community to provide easy access to their parks.

Learn more in the Cleveland Metroparks March 23, 2016, blog post: Along the Lake to Lake Trail - A Western Reserve Story



Trail #22) Tuesday, October 13, 2020 - Lake Isaac Trail, Big Creek Reservation

1.2 miles: Lake Isaac Trail
Start at Lake Isaac and enjoy this loop trail as you discover waterfowl, birds, and a scenic overlook of Baldwin Creek.

Lake Isaac

Classified as a glacial pothole created thousands of years ago, Lake Isaac Waterfowl Sanctuary serves as an important refuge for migrating waterfowl. The surrounding woodlands provide habitat for red foxes, mink, deer, opossum, and countless other animals. It is one of the most active wildlife corridors in Cuyahoga County. A 1.2 mile hiking trail follows through this corridor, passing through wetlands, woodlands, a pine plantation and an orchard while providing an overlook of the floodplain of Baldwin Creek.



Trail #23) Saturday, October 17, 2020 - Ohio & Erie Canal All Purpose Trail, Ohio & Erie Canal Reservation

8.0 miles: APT
Start at CanalWay Center. Make your way down the hill on the APT and turn left to head south towards Rockside Road. Enjoy the views of the canals, various bridges and aqueducts as you ride to Rockside Road. Turn around and make your way back to Canalway Center when you hit gravel at the Lock 39 Trailhead.

The Ohio & Erie Canal Reservation stretches through the villages of Cuyahoga Heights and Valley View and other surrounding communities. The reservation follows a portion of its namesake, the historic 309-mile Ohio and Erie Canal. Together with the Cuyahoga River, the northernmost remaining 4.4 miles of watered canal provides wildlife management areas, fishing opportunities and scenic beauty. Picnicking, hiking trails, a 7.2-mile All Purpose Trail, and unique natural and cultural heritage of this valley are also featured in this reservation.

Discover the unique blend of industrial valley and up close nature along the paved Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath.This reservation provides opportunities for hiking, biking, fishing, visiting a nature center, exploring a National Heritage corridor and wildlife viewing. Amidst the surrounding industrial area, this reservation has been naturally reclaimed to support thriving habitats including wetlands, forests, the Cuyahoga River and flowing canal.

We were at the Ohio & Erie Canal Reservation back on Tuesday, June 16, 2020, to hike the Ohio and Erie Canal Mountain Bike Trail for the 2020 trail challenge (click here to read blog post), but on this cool, sunny, October day, Stuart rode the Ohio & Erie Canal All Purpose Trail alone. This great trail through the Cuyahoga Valley is one of two of the longest trails for Trail Challenge 2020, and provides an opportunity for the rider to learn the interesting history of the region between the cities of Cleveland and Akron.

Stuart has written blog posts about bike riding this area twice before - as part of the first Trail Challenge, and in a post about trails along the Cuyahoga River. It is particularly interesting to see how the bike trails in the valley have expanded and improved since our 2014 blog post:



Southerly Wastewater Treatment Plant

6000 Canal Road, Cuyahoga Heights, OH 44125 | (216) 641-3200

Situated on 288 acres, Southerly is the largest of NEORSD’s three wastewater plants, and one of the largest facilities of its kind in the country. The first-stage activated-sludge process is like those used at Easterly and many other treatment plants around the world. The second-stage process uses specialized bacteria to remove ammonia and nitrogen, two compounds which deplete oxygen in receiving waters. As a final step, the flow passes through filters and is disinfected by a chlorination/dechlorination process from May to October.

It might seem strange to include information about sewage and stormwater treatment in a blog about the Cleveland Metroparks, but if it were not for the work of the water treatment upriver, we would not have the growing number of parks downriver. The number of park access points to the Cuyahoga River has grown since we wrote our 2014 blog post: "Take a Hike" - Cleveland's Flats & Beyond! Plans call for even more access in the coming decade.

Learn more about water treatment in our blog posts:

Note the banner about fish in the following tweet photos. Cleaner water means more fish.


Be sure to stop and read the historical signs that the park has placed along the bike route. Stuart found them very interesting.


About Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad

Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad is a tourist excursion railway and private sector, nonprofit 501(c)3 organization operating in partnership with Cuyahoga Valley National Park located in Northeast, Ohio. CVSR is dedicated and committed to preserving and renovating historic railcars so that they may be enjoyed by future generations. In addition to providing event excursions year-round, we also offer a membership program and have a volunteer base of over 1,000.


Our mission is to provide educational, recreational and heritage railroad experiences and to provide alternative transportation to and within Cuyahoga Valley National Park and the Ohio & Erie Canalway

The turnaround point for this trail is in Cuyahoga Valley National Park, near the Rockside Station of the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. We have ridden the train, and highly recommend it. Due to COVID-19, the trains were not running over the summer of 2020. They did reopen in the fall, but leading up to Christmas 2020, they again adapted to the ever-changing situation by offering Zoom video teleconferencing calls with Santa instead of their traditional Polar Express train rides. Check their website or call 330-439-5708 for updates and tickets.




In our 2014 blog post about we wrote:

Please note the Kurtz Bros., Inc. (@KurtzBrosInc) sign pictured in the following tweets that indicated that this area was reclaimed from a landfill for public use. The reoccurring theme to all the places visited for this blog post is how wastelands are now being converted to greenways for public use.

We are fortunate to now have public parks where there were once landfills. Kurtz Bros., Inc., had a green resources display at IngenuityFest 2015, which we mentioned in our blog post from the IngenuityFest weekend of Cleveland Arts & Technology.





Thank you, Barbara Sandon, for your comment:






Saturday, October 17, 2020 - Cleveland Metroparks’ Trail Challenge Prize & Bike Cleveland's Riverfront

A mentioned above, in our 2014 blog post: "Take a Hike" - Cleveland's Flats & Beyond!, we wrote about our exploring the Flats and Riverfront in Cleveland, in addition to the Ohio & Erie Canal Reservation. Therefore, it was appropriate that on October 17, 2020, as Stuart picked up our prizes --2020 Trail Challenge mugs -- at Merwin's Wharf, that he then went on to explore the bike trails that have been built since 2014. He first rode on the Cleveland Foundation Centennial Link Trail, and then other trails in Cleveland near the Cuyahoga River. He finished his ride by touring the east bank of the Flats, where the Cleveland Metroparks operate their water taxi across the Cuyahoga River. We want to thank Cigna for sponsoring the Trail Challenge again this year.


Cleveland Metroparks Announces Winter RiverFest Arriving for the Holiday Season
Posted: October 16, 2020

Cleveland Metroparks today announced Winter RiverFest presented by MTD, a first-time event set to transform Rivergate Park and Merwin's Wharf for the holiday season beginning November 27. The new holiday event along the Cuyahoga River in The Flats will feature synthetic ice skating, festive light displays, a beer garden and firepits, retail shop and igloo village at Merwin’s Wharf.

While at Merwin's Wharf to pick up our Trail Challenge Prizes, Stuart saw one of the dining igloos that would become a new way to enjoy dinner in the park this winter. The day before, it was announced that the Cleveland Metroparks was having its first Winter RiverFest. See more details from the links in the following tweets:









Trail #24) Sunday, October 25, 2020 - Mill Stream Run Reservation

5.0 miles: Royalview
Start at the lower Royalview Trailhead parking lot. Go out to Valley Parkway and head North crossing over Route 82 up to the Chalet. Return back to where you started by heading back south.

Mill Stream Run Reservation

In Berea, the river cuts through Berea sandstone carving potholes in the stone. Baldwin and Wallace lakes are former quarries that produced some of the finest grindstones in the world. The settlers were not the first to visit; artifacts have been found in the reservation that indicate American Indian tribes frequented this area over 8,000 years ago. The reservation includes numerous species of wildlife and plant life, including ferns and wildflowers. The East Branch of the Rocky River is noted for its spring trout fishing.

The reservation also has a number of trails and picnic areas for visitors to enjoy year round, including the Chalet with its twin toboggan chutes for winter thrills, summer reserved picnicking and fall hayrides.

Go Ape!

Get a new view of Cleveland Metroparks, while you get your adrenaline pumping with 5 zip lines, 42 obstacles and breathtaking vantage points. The Go Ape Treetop adventure takes 2 - 3 hours to complete, with times varying based on availability, weather and daylight hours.

October 25th was a cool and beautiful fall day for Stuart to take an autumn bike ride!

Stuart remembered learning about Go Ape in the Cleveland Metroparks, which was new in 2015 at Mill Stream Run Reservation, when he attended the 2015 NEO Cycle event at Cleveland Metroparks Edgewater Park. NEO Cycle was an incredible event where Stuart learned not only about bike resources, but also a wide variety of local adventure opportunities -- see the "Local Adventures" list in our blog post:

Stuart also wrote about the 2017 NEOCycle event, which was unfortunately its last year. We hope that this event returns in some form in the future, since it was a great community resource.

Despite knowing about the Go Ape ropes course for five years, Stuart had never visited the location. Stuart took time during his bike ride to stop to see the Go Ape course and the Mill Stream Run Reservation toboggan run. We are fortunate to have these adventure activities in our local park system!



Sunday, October 25, 2020 - Royalview Yellow Loop Trail, Mill Stream Run Reservation
cryingCLOSED Due to Recent Wet Weather

5.7 miles: Royalview, Yellow Loop
Start at the lower Royalview Trailhead parking lot. Run, hike, or bike the Yellow Loop through young forests and enjoy interacting with other trail users. Pay special attention to trail direction as it varies from day to day on this shared use mountain bike trail.

When Stuart returned to where he parked his car after bike riding to the Mill Stream Run Reservation toboggan run, he confirmed that, unfortunately, the Royalview Yellow Loop mountain bike path was still closed. Stuart had hoped that the trail would open later in the day, since the weather was improving.

Stuart was glad that he was able to meet some of the volunteers who maintain the mountain bike trail, and thank them for their good work. They told Stuart that they do have the trail open when it is snow-covered, so Stuart thought that a winter hike would be a great ending to the 2020 Trail Challenge. He then planned on making the Royalview Yellow Loop Trail as the last trail he will do for 2020.

The volunteers have a great system of using Twitter to update the Cleveland Metroparks Mountain Bike web page with the status of all the mountain bike trails they maintain in the park system. Follow @CMPmtb on Twitter for "The latest conditions for Cleveland Metroparks' Mountain Biking Trails. Updated daily by volunteers."


Since the Royalview Yellow Loop Trail was closed, Stuart ended his day on Sunday, October 25, 2020, instead hiking two more trails.



Trail #25) Sunday, October 25, 2020 - Bridle Trail, Rocky River Reservation

5.8 miles: Cottonwood Shelter
Start at Cottonwood Shelter and walk towards the Rocky River on the bridle trail. Go right (South) when you get to the river and stay on the bridle trail
as you walk towards Rocky River Nature Center. Turn around when the trail crosses Rocky River near the nature center.

Rocky River Reservation is located in Berea, Brook Park, Cleveland, Fairview Park, Lakewood, North Olmsted, Olmsted Township, and Rocky River. The first land purchased for Cleveland Metroparks — a 3.8 acre parcel purchased in April 1919 — can be seen from the Stinchcomb-Groth Memorial. The character of the reservation is strongly influenced by the Rocky River. Massive shale cliffs rise above the willows, sycamores and cottonwoods, and many trails wind through the valley's deep floodplain forests, meadows and wetlands. Wildlife is common in the valley and visitors can expect to see numerous bird species and some common Ohio mammals year-round, including the white-tailed deer. Visit Rocky River Nature Center to learn more.



Trail #26) Sunday, October 25, 2020 - Quarry Loop Trail, Bradley Woods Reservation

1.3 miles: Quarry Loop
Head off from Codrington Picnic Area off Bradley Road and head north to get on the Quarry Loop Trail. As the name suggestions, you’ll see remnants of old sandstone quarries as well as many maples, pin oak and birch trees.

Bradley Woods Reservation, located in North Olmsted and Westlake, is on a massive formation of Berea sandstone. The stone is easily seen in the old quarry sites located in various areas of the reservation. The quarries were in operation over 50 years ago and produced sandstone for building stones. The reservation is filled with deep forests of red maples, sour gums, tupelos, yellow birches, and pin oaks.

It was a great way for Stuart to end his day on October 25th -- exploring a park he had never visited before, and meeting an interesting person he follows on Twitter. When Stuart arrived at Bradley Woods Reservation, he read on the Cleveland Metroparks website that Park Naturalist Karen Lakus was leading a hike here for park visitors interested in the Trail Challenge. The group and already left the parking lot by the time Stuart arrived, but he passed them on the trail and finally met Karen Lakus in person.

 Great to hear back from people via Twitter:



Trail #27) Wednesday, October 28, 2020 - Bedford Reservation

4.2 miles: APT
Start at the parking area just off Richmond Road at the NE corner of Bedford Reservation and enjoy this quiet out and back section.

(Hint: If you are feeling adventurous, hit up the Forbes Woods trail near the middle of this route to knock off two trails in one day)

Bedford Reservation

This reservation features a deep gorge -- declared a National Natural Landmark -- carved out by Tinker’s Creek, with picturesque vistas and waterfalls. Mature trees and abundant wildflowers are found within its deep forests. It offers trails for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding, as well as picnic areas and Shawnee Hills Golf Course. At over 2,200 acres, Bedford Reservation gives the appearance of a continuous forest of large trees as it was not logged due to its rugged terrain. Tinker’s Creek, the largest tributary of the Cuyahoga River. A scenic overlook along Gorge Parkway offers a spectacular vista, particularly in the fall.

On this cool, fall day, we had a great time enjoying the autumn leaves as we biked on the All Purpose Trail in the greenway that is northeast of the main section of Bedford Reservation. Stuart remembered that the last time he was here, on Sunday, January 19, 2020, he was carrying a weighted backpack for one of several winter hikes on the Buckeye Trail as he prepared for a first-time, multi-month adventure on the Continental Divide Trail in the spring (which, unfortunately, had to be canceled). The cool 47° did not feel too cold compared to the 17° winter hike last January. Read about Stuart's Buckeye Trail "Little Loop" journey in Bedford Reservation in:

We also passed by the northern terminus of the Forbes Woods Connector Trail on our bike ride, and remembered discovering Forbes Woods back in June:

Bridal Veil Falls Scenic Overlook

A short walk along Deerlick Creek, down the boardwalk and steps, leads to a gorgeous view of Bridal Veil Falls.These cascading waterfalls are surrounded by hardwoods and hemlocks. This is a very popular photo spot.

After our Bedford Reservation bike ride for the Trail Challenge, we visited Bridal Veil Falls in the park:






Trail #28) Friday, October 30, 2020 - Henry Church, Jr., Rock, South Chagrin Reservation

Guest Choice!
In addition to the trails listed above, you have the ability to count an additional activity by choosing one of your favorite trails and record it for one of your activities.

Henry Church, Jr., Rock

This long-term ephemeral landmark is a piece of cultural history immersed in nature by the riverside.  Blacksmith, spiritualist, and artist Henry Church carved the images in the rock, dating the piece in 1885. Visit the rock, and you'll discover many images, which include an eagle, shield, papoose, woman, quiver, and others. The sandstone rock itself stands, a weathering testament to the early settlement in Bentleyville-Solon.

We have done several trails beyond those listed for the Trail Challenge, but decided to list the 0.6 mile Henry Church, Jr., Rock Loop Trail as our "Guest Choice" trail, since it is a special trail to us, and we wanted to visit it on this day with unusually high water.

Stuart has been coming to this area since he was a kid. It is great that the longest hiking trail in any one state, Ohio's Buckeye Trail, comes right to the overlook of Henry Church, Jr., Rock. Read about this Buckeye Trail section in:


After our hike at Henry Church, Jr., Rock, we visited the village of Chagrin Falls to see the high water cascading down the two falls located there.


Providing plays, musicals, youth theatre education and special events to Northeast Ohio since 1930. Located just a half hour’s drive east of downtown Cleveland, Chagrin Valley Little Theatre is one of the nation’s oldest community theatres, offering year-round entertainment at affordable prices.

While in Chagrin Falls Village, we stopped by the Chagrin Valley Little Theatre. We are very fortunate to have CVLT in our area -- this year celebrating 90 years of local community theatre! We first met at this theatre when we were attending an event for theatre volunteers, that took place between shows that we were working on at CVLT. We have many great memories of this theatre!



Trail #29) Wednesday, November 4, 2020 - Bike Ride from Trolley Turn Picnic Area to Mill Creek Falls, Garfield Park Reservation

3.0 miles: Mill Creek Falls
Start at Trolley Turn Parking Area and move northwest on the Mill Creek Trail along E. 104th Street in this beautiful park as you head to Mill Creek Falls. Turn around when you reach the falls, but not before you enjoy the 48 foot tall falls, the highest waterfall in Cuyahoga County!

Garfield Park Reservation is located in Garfield Heights. The reservation features picnic areas, a wetland, and trails. The history of Garfield Park dates back almost a century. In 1894, the city of Cleveland purchased three farms, a half mile south of the city limits as a site for a new south side park. It was officially opened in 1895, as Newburg Park, and soon thereafter re-named Garfield Park. Much of the beautiful stonework still evident in the reservation today dates from the 1930s New Deal Era projects. Garfield Park was leased to Cleveland Metroparks in 1986. The old lake beds have been reclaimed by nature and are managed as green space for wildlife. The rich deep woodlands support a host of songbirds throughout the year. For educational programming at Garfield Park Center, please call CanalWay Center at 216-206-1000.

Located in Garfield Heights, Garfield Park Reservation has become a treasured urban oasis that has withstood the test of time.  The park features a surprising array of wildlife diversity and recreational opportunities.  Serving as a popular location for family gatherings and exercise enthusiasts with its unique landscapes and vistas, guests can be surprised with each visit offering something new to discover.

Mill Creek Falls, Cuyahoga County’s tallest waterfall, is located in Cleveland. Mill Creek Falls stands at 48 feet tall. The height and power of its flowing cascades helped Cleveland in becoming a prosperous city. The small overlook at The Yard offers an amazing view of Mill Creek Falls.

This is the second time we have been to Mill Creek Falls, having discovered it in 2017 when on the Cleveland Metroparks Inaugural Trail Challenge. One of the great things about the Trail Challenge is that it gets us to visit parks with which we are not familiar. There is a very interesting history to this park.

(Also see our blog post about visiting Garfield Park Reservation on Friday, September 18, 2020, to do our 17th trail for the Trail Challenge 2020, the Iron Springs Loop Trail.)










Trail #30) Monday, November 9, 2020 - Brookside Overlook, Brookside Reservation and Visit the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

1.4 miles: Brookside Overlook
Enter the park on John Nagy Blvd. and start on the APT at the roundabout. Head South past the baseball fields and head up to the Brookside Overlook before turning around and heading back.

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo offers enjoyable and educational programs for all ages! The Zoo’s Conservation Education department has programming all year round for kids, families, teens, teachers and many more.

Brookside Reservation was one of the City of Cleveland's oldest neighborhood parks before its acquisition by Cleveland Metroparks in 1993. The land was purchased in 1894 and has been a center for recreation since the early 1900s. Still a recreation hub, the area now boasts baseball and soccer/football fields. The 132-acre reservation serves as a refuge for diverse wildlife in an urban setting. It is also an attractive spot for area picnickers and a resting site for walkers, cyclists and others who use the All Purpose Trail. This reservation connects to Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.

Brookside Overlook

This overlook provides a sweeping view of the historic Baseball Fields of Brookside Reservation. Nestled in this urbanized section of the Old Brooklyn neighborhood of Cleveland, this reservation consists of mitigated wetlands, mature forests and managed meadows, which provide diverse habitats for urban wildlife viewing.


When we saw that one of the Trail Challenge locations was at the Brookside Reservation, we knew that we would need to combine it with first visiting the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is a venue where we feel we can safely go during the COVID-19 pandemic, since people can socially distance and wear masks while seeing the zoo animals. This is the second time we visited the zoo in 2020 -- see our photos from our August 31, 2020, visit on Twitter.


We had hiked this route to Brookside Overlook last April, so it was great to visit it again. We come to Brookside Reservation every spring to see the blossoms on the Japanese Association of Northeast Ohio cherry trees. Read about our spring visit and see the our photos of the cherry trees in our blog post:

Also, see our blog post about a special visit to the zoo on Mother's Day during a difficult time, and also seeing the Japanese cherry trees:



We learned about the Japanese Association of Northeast Ohio cherry trees at the Cleveland Metroparks through Etsuko Nagasawa Dunham, so we made a point to let her know we visited them today. She and Stuart know each other, since they both used to be members of a Cleveland bloggers club that met at the Barking Spider monthly. Etsuko has also volunteered at Cleveland GiveCamp in the past. (Stuart serves on the Cleveland GiveCamp Steering Committee.)



Trail #31) Wednesday, November 18, 2020 - Chagrin River Trail, North Chagrin Reservation

Guest Choice!
In addition to the trails listed above, you have the ability to count an additional activity by choosing one of your favorite trails and record it for one of your activities.

Here is a Chagrin River Trail description and a comment about the trail we found on

Chagrin River Trail is a 2.5 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Gates Mills, Ohio that features a river and is good for all skill levels. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

This easy hike is more like a stroll alongside the Chagrin River, with a small loop at the end at Oxbow Lagoon. While the trail, which is mostly boardwalk, is in close proximity to a main road, its setting is peaceful. The wooded path features birds, flowers, and sounds of the river.

Erica Marie
January 4, 2020
I usually dislike trails that you can see the road or houses from, but this trail might be an exception. The trail itself was fun and varied in elevation and scenery. The lagoons at the end of the trail are beautiful. Hiking alongside the river is refreshing. I went on a rainy day and didn’t realize there would be a small runoff crossing. I’m sure this crossing would have been easy on a day without rain; however; the water was between 3-5 ft deep, so I elected to shimmy across some fallen trees - just added to the adventure.

View Erica's Recording

Since we were doing more than the 20 trails required to meet the 2020 Trail Challenge, we decided to list a second "Guest Choice" trail -- the Chagrin River Trail.

We found this trail to be especially pleasant. It was fun to find a new area in a park that we consider an "old friend." We enjoyed the sights, sounds, and mild elevation changes.

This is a trail we had never known about, and we only found it by looking at the North Chagrin Reservation trail map. We made the hike into a loop hike by crossing the street and returning by the horse trail.



Trail #32) Friday, November 20, 2020 - All Purpose Trail, Brecksville Reservation

3.3 miles: Nature Center
Start at the Nature Center. Take the APT east down the hill to the CVNP Brecksville Station Train Depot and enjoy looking over the Cuyahoga River prior to turning around as you grind back up the hill. While this route is paved, there is significant elevation change.

Brecksville Reservation

From the oak-hickory forests on the ridge tops to the cottonwoods, willows and sycamores of Chippewa Creek's flat floodplain, Brecksville Reservation is a study of contrasts. The reservation is deeply cut by seven distinct gorges which have a wide variety of soil and sunlight conditions, fostering the growth of rare, unusual and endangered plants. Chippewa Creek, in the northern section of the reservation, flows through a remarkable gorge that was left behind by the glaciers that once covered this area. The reservation has an excellent and extensive system of trails, including a section of the Buckeye Trail. Squire Rich Home & Museum, managed by the Brecksville Historical Society, is located on Brecksville Road. Sleepy Hollow Golf Course and Seneca Golf Course are also a part of the reservation.


Since it was getting late in the year, we were concerned about having another day warm enough for a comfortable bike ride. The weather on November 20th was perfect for our last bike ride that we had planned for the Cleveland Metroparks Trail Challenge in Brecksville Reservation.


Ohio City Bicycle Co-op

“The mission of the Ohio City Bicycle Co-op (OCBC) is to promote the use of bicycles in greater Cleveland and engage area youth and adults in cycling activities that foster independence, resourcefulness, and good health. The OCBC works to accomplish this by offering safe cycling and bike repair education, Earn A Bike programs, and a consumer’s cooperative bike shop; by providing dependable used bikes and accessories; and by producing cycling events and tours that impart skills while encouraging riding for fun, fitness and practical transportation.” In 2006 the our board approved this “working mission statement” to describe what we do:

We help people use bicycles.

With this being our last bike ride for the 2020 Trail Challenge, Stuart wants to again thank Ohio City Bicycle Co-op for helping him fix his bike so that it was safe. Stuart had been riding for a long time without good brakes and tires -- always fun.




Trail #33) Friday, November 20, 2020 - Hemlock Loop Trail, Brecksville Reservation

2.5 miles: Hemlock Loop
Start at the Nature Center. Take the green Hemlock Loop. Enjoy views of Chippewa Creek Gorge as you loop back to where you started.

Harriet Keeler Memorial, located in Brecksville Reservation, honors the educator and nature enthusiast, Harriet Keeler. A nearby picnic area, also named after Keeler, allows the community to honor Keeler by interacting with nature.

Harriet Keeler influenced the lives of many as a teacher and author. After earning her college degree, she worked for Cleveland Public Schools as a teacher, principal and superintendent. As a teacher, she taught her students to enjoy learning and acquire knowledge. As an author, she was known for her devotion to the natural world, with botany as her passion. The Harriet Keeler Memorial was established as a living reminder of nature’s gifts.

Chippewa Creek Gorge holds the earth’s history in its rocks. Chippewa Creek, in the northern section of Brecksville Reservation, flows through a remarkable gorge that was left behind by the glaciers that once covered this area. The top layer of rock along the Chippewa Creek Gorge is Berea Sandstone, which forms large boulders as it breaks off and tumbles into the creek. Today water in Chippewa Creek continues the process of erosion reshaping the rocks and gorge.

With the days now getting shorter in November, and the Hemlock Loop Trail being longer than we expected, we finished our hike as it was getting dark outside. Sunset was now at 5:02 PM on November 20, 2020. It was nice to visit a part of the park that was new to us along the rim of the Chippewa Creek Gorge. We also saw an area where the Cleveland Metroparks was building a new side-trail down into the Chippewa Creek Gorge, so we will need to come back to explore it when it is done.


Brecksville All Seasons Course

The orienteering course you are about to follow is mostly on interconnecting trails that will bring you back to the general area of the Nature Center and its parking lot. There are, however, some short forays off of the trail included to make the course a bit more interesting, so you should be prepared for that.  Consider skipping the off trail parts at your option. The course is approx. (6.1 km or 3.7 miles) in its entirety. This is rather long as well as hilly for a beginner level course of its type, so feel free to attempt just a portion of it if your time or fitness level will not allow you to complete it all today.

The object of orienteering is to navigate efficiently to a series of land features that are represented on a detailed topographic map. The land features that you will seek are described for you on a clue sheet . . .

We saw a permanent orienteering marker while on our hike, and knew its significance. We used to be members of the Northeast Ohio Orienteering Club, and Stuart used to teach orienteering to Boy Scouts in Brecksville Reservation, so we knew that Brecksville was one of very few locations that have a permanent orienteering course. Learn more on the Northeast Ohio Orienteering Club website at:









Trail #34) Royalview Yellow Loop Trail, Mill Stream Run Reservation

Stuart had planned on ending this year's Trail Challenge by doing a winter hike (hopefully in beautiful snow) on the 5.7-mile Royalview Yellow Loop Trail. Unfortunately, if you look at the Royalview Trail Conditions reported by @CMPmtb in December 2020, you will see that the trail has been closed in December. Stuart enjoyed hiking the Royalview Yellow Loop Trail in 2017 as part of the inaugural Trail Challenge, and was looking forward to hiking it again in 2020.


Related Blog Posts

We want to thank the Cleveland Metroparks staff for planning the 2020 Trail Challenge, and thank Cigna for sponsoring again this year. Please be sure to learn more in our Trail Challenge blog posts about the first 20 trails for 2020, and about the inaugural year:

We always like to list related blog posts so you can learn more about a place we visit or an event we attend. We have written many blog posts that relate to our experience hiking and biking on the 2020 Trail Challenge trails. See the following blog subject links:

Most of the venues that we normally write about in our are currently closed. Therefore, in 2020, we created our "Social Distancing Series" blog posts, which we want to invite you to read as we try and capture the activities we are able to do at this time. In the series, we wrote about visiting a lot of parks, and are very grateful for the several northeast Ohio park systems that we have been exploring during this time. Once the coronavirus crisis is over, it will be interesting to read these to see the contrast between these times and "normal life."

We expect to continue to practice social distancing for the next several months, so please come back to read more and...

Stay well!