Six Days: Ten Cleveland Metroparks and Orienteering in Geauga Park District

Cleveland Metroparks 2024 Trail Challenge

Welcome to the 2024 Trail Challenge, a guest led program where you are challenged to complete 10 trails in 10 different Cleveland Metroparks reservations on your own in 2024! Explore new trails, move to better health, discover the wonders of nature, and earn a prize.

My wife and co-blogger, Julie, and I have completed the Cleveland Metroparks Trail Challenge in the past, taking most of the year to do it. This year, I decided to do something different, and complete the challenge in one week. I picked the first full week of February (5 days: February 5-9, 2024) to hike "... in 10 different Cleveland Metroparks reservations ..." In total, I hiked five days on 14 trails in ten reservations, and worked out at a gym on four of the mornings. I also ended the week on Saturday, February 10, 2024, by attending a Northeastern Ohio Orienteering Club event where they had developed a new map for the Geauga Park District's The West Woods.

What follows are some trail resources, followed by information and photos/videos from the trails I hiked. I hope this blog post encourages you to get out on our local park trails in 2024!

Cleveland Metroparks 2024 Trail Challenge

Saturday, February 10, 2024 - 2024 West Woods Classic-O

Blog Date

My HCM Part Five - Recovery: A Snowy Interview with Spectrum News 1

January 22, 2024, Stuart O. Smith, Jr., with Spectrum News 1 reporter Kimberly Perez at Bridal Veil Falls parking in Bedford Reservation, Cleveland Metroparks

This, my fifth HCM blog post, is about my being interviewed on January 22, 2024, by Spectrum News 1 reporter Kimberly Perez. It is a continuation of the last HCM recovery blog post, and a result of my cardiologist, Eiran Gorodeski MD, MPH, recommending that I share my story on television. I refer to this as my second "recovery" blog post of my HCM series.

Hiking on the Buckeye Trail, starting two months after my open-heart surgery, was a big part of my recovering my strength, stamina, and balance. When I was contacted to be interviewed by Kimberly Perez from Spectrum News 1 on Monday, January 22, 2024, I thought it was very important to have the interview take place on the Buckeye Trail. I suggested she conduct the interview while we hiked together on the Buckeye Trail to the Bridal Veil Falls Scenic Overlook in the Cleveland Metroparks Bedford Reservation. These Falls are on a beautiful section of the trail that is easy to reach by a short walk from your car.

I arranged for my wife and co-blogger, Julie, to join us to take photos of the interview process. I am so glad that she was able to attend, since she captured the beauty of the area with her photography. The day after I posted photos, the Buckeye Trail Association shared my Facebook post with their 11,000+ Facebook followers.

The temperature was in the 30s when Kimberly Perez and I starting talking while walking down the trail. She used her smartphone to record my answers to her questions, as I told my story of past backpacking trips; my debilitating HCM symptoms in the spring of 2023; and my recovery, which led to my backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail.

On Saturday, February 10, 2024, at the same time I was heading to a Northeastern Ohio Orienteering Club event, Spectrum News 1 posted their video about me. Please watch the video and accompanying article.

I am already planning more adventures in 2024, which are possible thanks to my successful open-heart surgery at University Hospitals.

Blog Date

My HCM Part Four: Recovery & A.T. Hike Featured on WKYC TV-3

December 12, 2023, TV-3 Heartstrings Broadcast about me: Northeast Ohio man hikes portion of Appalachian Trail months after open-heart surgery

On June 11, 2023, I ended my third Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy blog post questioning whether I would have a fourth "recovery" blog post:

Well, my idea of writing an HCM (hypertrophic cardiomyopathy) recovery blog post changed from a doubt to a must-do when my cardiologist, Eiran Gorodeski MD, MPH, recommended I share my story with others on television. He had University Hospitals Senior Media Relations Strategist Carly Belsterling contact me on October 16, 2023. After an initial interview with her, I met with TV-3 News Special Projects Reporter Lindsay Buckingham on December 5, 2023, at a special location. Dr. Gorodeski was also interviewed for the news story, and he shared how I have a specific type of heart failure called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy that affects about 750,000 Americans.

In this recovery blog post, I will share an update on the great progress I have made, information about the significance of the interview's location, and then the actual interview that was broadcast, along with its companion article.

Blog Date

Thank You for an Informative 10th Annual Buckeye TrailFest

10th Annual Buckeye TrailFest, Shawnee State Park

I am so glad that I was able to attend the 10th Annual Buckeye TrailFest at Shawnee State Park, which was held Thursday - Sunday, August 17-20, 2023. As I wrote in my last blog post, Summer Vacation 2023: South Haven, Michigan and Merry-Go-Round Museum, I have been very busy since recovering from my April surgery, but I still wanted to take the time to put together this blog post for two reasons that are important to me:

  1. I want to encourage others to learn about the Buckeye TrailFest and the important work of the Buckeye Trail Association in maintaining the longest trail in any one state in this country.

  2. The main purpose of this blog post is to thank the organizers and presenters of the Buckeye TrailFest 2023 for sharing their talents to create a successful event. I am very grateful for all their efforts to make a welcoming and educational event for all attendees.

I look forward to more journeys on Ohio's long trail -- the Buckeye Trail -- in my future.

Blog Date

National Trails Day 2022: Buckeye Trail Association's Biggest Day Hike

National Trails Day 2022: Buckeye Trail Association's Biggest Day Hike

It feels appropriate that the first blog post I am writing since my Continental Divide Trail backpacking adventure in April 2022 is about a National Trails Day® event -- the Buckeye Trail Association's Biggest Day Hike, which took place on Saturday, June 4, 2022.

It is great that the Buckeye Trail Association (@HikeTheBT) invited everyone to participate in celebrating Ohio's long trail by pledging to travel a segment of this over 1,400-mile trail for National Trails Day® 2022. This is the third year for the Buckeye Trail Association's Biggest Day Hike, which had the goal of having hikers/biker/horseback riders collectively complete the ENTIRE Buckeye Trail in one day.

American Hiking Society's 30th Annual National Trails Day®

Thank you, American Hiking Society and their sponsors/partners, for National Trails Day®!! It is a great way to bring awareness of all the great trails we have in our country.

It was great to see so many US trail organizations participate in National Trails Day® 2022. In addition to being a member of the Buckeye Trail Association (@HikeTheBT), I am a member of several other trail organizations.

I hope you find the resources I shared in this blog post useful as you find our own trail adventures. Happy Trails to you!

Blog Date

My Cleveland Week: Cleveland Foundation > MidTown Murals > USS Cod Party > Irishtown Bend Hike > One World Day

My Cleveland Week: Cleveland Foundation > MidTown Murals > USS Cod Party > Irishtown Bend Hike > One World Day

As I mention in my last blog posts, I have been "delayed" in my normal activities for much of the summer. Well, the week after I published those two blog posts, my activity level increased dramatically due to the large number of events happening in Cleveland the last week of August 2021.

As I wrote on Monday, August 23, 2021, "If you are in #Cleveland and have nothing to do this week, you are just not trying!"

This blog post is an attempt to capture some of the spirit of the events I attended. The one common element of all these events is that I learned about them from following interesting people/organization on Twitter.  I created this blog post to serve as a reminder for me of the fun I had at these events, and I hope it encourages you to go out yourself to learn about the organizations that sponsor these events.

The in-person events included:

In addition to these in-person events that I attended, this was also the week of online events for the 2021 Cleveland Foundation Annual Meeting Week Presented by KeyBank: It Starts With Community.

Blog Date

After Backpacking Adventure: Exploring Appalachian Trail Highlights & New York Water Destinations

After Backpacking Adventure: Exploring Appalachian Trail Highlights & New York Water Destinations

This blog post focuses on the interesting places we visited together along the route of the Appalachian Trail after Stuart's backpacking adventure, and then visiting water-related locations in New York state on our way home. After many years of hearing from Stuart about the places we visited along the Appalachian Trail, it was really fun for Julie to finally see them! 

Exploring Appalachian Trail Highlights

While Stuart was backpacking on the Appalachian Trail, he wrote down places he wanted to show Julie after his hike. It is his way of involving her in his multi-year journey north up the trail.

Many of the best locations are not accessible due to difficult terrain or the number of miles from trailheads, so this blog post shows just a few of the places we had the ability and time to visit.

New York Water Destinations

After touring locations along the Appalachian Trail, we spent the weekend traveling through the state of New York, where we visited the Erie Canal and Niagara Falls.

Blog Date

Before Backpacking Adventure: Hershey’s Chocolate World & Knoebels Amusement Resort

Friday, April 30, 2021 - Hershey’s Chocolate World! Saturday, May 1, 2021 - Julie rides the Grand Carousel at Knoebels Amusement Resort

Friday, April 30, 2021 - Hershey’s Chocolate World!

This was our first big outing since receiving our COVID-19 vaccinations. The three attractions that we went to were adapted to encourage social distancing, but this was still the first time being around so many people in an inside venue. It actually felt kind of strange. Everyone was required to wear masks in all areas of the Hershey’s Chocolate World building.

It was very appropriate that we started our journey toward Stuart's starting point on the Appalachian Trail at this "sweet" place, since he has often visited Hershey’s Chocolate World as part of his many previous backpacking trips on the A.T. in Pennsylvania. A chocolate treat goes perfectly with backpacking.

Saturday, May 1, 2021 - Knoebels Amusement Resort

Since Julie and our son, Kevin F. Smith, are on the Board of Euclid Beach Park Now, we knew we had to visit Knoebels Amusement Resort. Similar to Cleveland's Euclid Beach Park, which closed in 1969, Knoebels is a free-admission amusement park. While it is free to enter the park, visitors can purchase individual ride tickets or an all-day wristband. Also, since Julie volunteers as a ride attendant at the restored Euclid Beach Park Grand Carousel at the Cleveland History Center, it was a special treat to see the Knoebels Carousel Museum.

Blog Date

Rockin' Hocking Hills

Julie "rockin' it" in Old Man's Cave at Hocking Hills State Park!

Located in southeastern Ohio, Hocking Hills State Park has received national and international acclaim as a top park to visit. Stunning in every season, the park features towering cliffs, waterfalls, and deep, hemlock-shaded gorges for hikers and nature lovers to enjoy.

We had not been to Hocking Hills State Park In many years, and decided it would make a great getaway location while we are still social distancing. Most of this past year, we have been exploring many northeast Ohio parks and thought that it was time to go to southeastern Ohio.

We remembered the park's unique rock formations from past visits, but we discovered that they were even more incredible than we remembered. We were surprised to learn from informational signage in the park that glaciers never reached this part of Ohio, since we are used to northeast Ohio terrain that has been shaped by the ice age.

Blog Date