Looking for somewhere to start your adventures close to home? Here are some of my favorite spots to get out, get quiet and enjoy the scenery.
- Wooster Memorial Park, Wooster, OH:
This amazing primitive park is made up of over nine miles of trails over a variety of terrain. There’s something for everyone, from ravines to streams to forest and even an incredible meadow to traipse through. The park began with donations of land by Paul Spangler, who started donating land to the city in 1961 to be preserved as a park. The city later purchased adjacent land to bring this park to a total of over 300 acres today. This gem is also pretty easy to find off of US 250, near Jefferson and Silver Roads, though the parking lot is small and sometimes rather busy. There is also lots of shade, so bring a picnic lunch and hang out and explore as long as you can.
- Worden’s Ledges, Hinckley, OH:
This is one of the coolest and, in my opinion, one of the most overlooked parts of the Hinckley Reservation in Cleveland Metroparks. Located off of Ledge Road, some unassuming trails lead off into the woods and down the hill, where, after a bit of hiking, you will encounter the ledges. What makes this place unique are the carvings in the rock, done from 1944-1948 by Nobel Stuart, who inherited the Worden Homestead from his late wife Nettie Worden, whose family had settled on the property in 1860. (You can read more about the history of Worden’s Ledges here.)
Not only does this park have these cool pictures to check out, it is also connected by trail to nearby Ledge Lake and the rest of the Hinckley Reservation. A 6 mile portion of the Buckeye Trail also connects to the trail here near a beautiful stream if you are looking for an interesting entrance point to a longer hike.
- Valley Link Trail, Metroparks Serving Summit County:
The Valley Link trail is one of my personal favorites, connecting Sand Run Metropark to the Towpath in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. This trail is really beautiful regardless of the season, but might be a bit treacherous in the winter without the proper gear due to the hills. I generally don’t really care for out-and-back trails, but this one is worth it for the scenery. The 5.3 mile trail can be accessed from either end, but I’d suggest starting at the entrance at 1690 Cuyahoga St in Akron and just going as far as feels good. Restrooms are available just slightly off trail part way through at Big Bend.
- Blue Hen to Buttermilk Falls, Brecksville, OH:
Recently I went on a hike here as part of my first solo trip, but this out-and -back is by far one of my favorite places. The hike to Blue Hen is relatively easy, but not maintained by the National Park Service. The trail to Buttermilk Falls is steep and eroded in places, but not too bad if you go a bit slower in those places and stay alert to where the path crosses the stream, that you basically follow to the second set of falls. At any rate, the reward at the end is absolutely incredible. Bring your camera. You won’t be disappointed.
- Virginia Kendall Ledges, Cuyahoga Valley National Park:
In case you haven’t noticed, I kind of have a thing for rocky places, water and lots of trees. Virginia Kendall, which is part of the National Park, is not an exception. This is a fairly busy area of the park, so don’t go on a nice day expecting solitude. There are a couple of different loop trails here, but the Ledges trail, which is under 2 miles, is the stand-out one for me because it has some beautiful views. This trail is also nice and shady, which makes it a nice hike in the heat of summer, despite the elevation changes. The history of the area is also pretty interesting, and you can read more about that here.
Please remember, no matter what area you visit, to take good care of the land and leave it just as beautiful (or more) as you found it by following Leave No Trace principles. Get outside in these amazing wild places and reconnect to your own wild strength.