Long before a global pandemic, hiking was one of my favorite activities. It remains a great outlet to get me out of the house and into nature. While we may not have the mountains, Cleveland still has access to so many great trails and walking paths. I thought that I would highlight some of my favorites below if you’re looking for a way to spend more time away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Cleveland Metroparks | Brecksville Reservation
- Deer Lick Cave Loop (4 mi)
Located around 20 minutes from downtown Cleveland, Brecksville Metroparks is one of my favorite go to hikes. It’s just long enough that I’m pretty tired afterwards and it has several hills throughout that provide a great workout. Plus, the actual cave is a nice place to stop for photos and there’s a small waterfall adjacent to the cave. Most times when I’m there I only encounter a handful of other people on the trail. The parking lot is where the nature center is, so don’t be turned off if you see a lot of cars. In the winter a lot of people come to hand feed the chickadees and there are several trails that diverge from that point. Once you get on the actual hike, you’ll mostly be alone.
Cleveland Metroparks | North Chagrin Reservation
- Squire’s Castle, Castle Valley Trail, NC2, Hemlock Trail to Squire’s Lane Trail (4.5 mi)
North Chagrin Reservation is full of trails, but the combination I listed above is truly a great option. Located about 25 minutes from downtown, this reservation features Squire’s Castle, which is where you’ll park to kick off the hike. Everything is marked really well so it won’t be hard to pick up each of the trails above, and it makes a great loop all the way around. There are hills, views of the gorges below and Buttermilk Falls. It’s slightly challenging, but nothing unmanageable.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park | Virginia Kendall Ledges
- Ledges Trail (2.2 mi)
- Pine Grove Trail (2.2. mi)
Virginia Kendall Ledges is located about 30-35 minutes from downtown Cleveland. I absolutely love this hike because the scenery is amazing. There are two hikes that I usually take advantage of while I am there. The first is the Ledges Trail. This one allows you to get up close and personal to the massive rock walls that make up a large part of the hike. The views are what really sell this hike. Be prepared though, this hike is not a secret and you’re likely to run into plenty of other people. The best time to go is during the week or earlier in the day before everyone arrives. The Pine Grove Trail doesn’t have the massive boulders, but it’s pretty in it’s own right and it’s a much quieter trail. I’d combine the two for the ideal experience.
Cleveland Metroparks | Rocky River Reservation
- Cottonwood Picnic Area
- Nature Center (distances vary; multiple short hike options)
Rocky River Metroparks is about 15-20 minutes from downtown Cleveland, although the park is quite large so it varies by where you’re headed. I spend the most time here by default, simply because it’s so close to where I live. For walking Bosco, my favorite trail starts at Cottonwood Picnic Area. It’s actually part of the bridle trail and is extra wide so it is very easy to avoid other people should I run into them. It also runs alongside the river, so you get some nice views throughout and it extends for miles. The only downside is that parts of the trail are close to the road, so you will hear traffic. My other favorite trails are quite busy, as they all branch off from the Rocky River Nature Center. There is a good variety of trails and you can get a nice view of the area from above here.
Cleveland Metroparks | Lakefront Nature Preserve
Located just south of East 72nd street, the Lakefront Nature Preserve has a few trails, many of which give you gives of the lake, downtown Cleveland or for bird watchers, a variety of birds. If you do the outside loop trail, which is only about 1.5 miles, you’ll be rewarded with both views of the Cleveland city skyline and the lake. Tip: Dogs are not allowed at this park.
Cleveland Metroparks | West Creek Reservation
- Combination of paths – Including Skinner’s Run (.9)
- Jewelwing Loop (.4)
I’ve been coming to West Creek Reservation in for years, but it wasn’t until recently that the variety of hiking and mountain biking paths became available. Just a small reservation in Parma, Ohio, you can easily combine a few paths to walk 3-4 miles. While the parking lots always seem full, you don’t run into that many people once you get off the main paved paths.
I’ll continue to update this list as I discover new places that are worth sharing. As always, recommendations are welcome!