Did you know that Cleveland Metroparks is home to 18 reservations, spanning 23,000 miles in the greater Cleveland area? From what I’ve experienced, it seems like a lot of people living in the area didn’t or still don’t know that there’s so much to see and explore outside the city limits.
I often receive comments from people saying “I had no idea there was so much hiking near Cleveland!” I’m not kidding.. when I started my Instagram account it seemed like people were baffled I was finding these places. I was constantly getting remarks and questions from people wondering where I was. These comments are part of the reason I decided to create this blog.. so I could continue to share these amazing places with those who might have an incredible park in their back yard and not even know it.
So.. I decided to challenge myself and rank the Cleveland Metroparks. This was really hard for me, because they are all so great, all for different reasons! For me, there are spots that rekindled my love for nature, the spot where my husband proposed, and the spot where I came up with the idea to create this very blog. I’ve spent a lot of time in these places over the last five years, so to rank them and then only write about my top five was a serious challenge.
So, while I’m only sharing my top five, with three notable mentions, I still advise you to check them all out. I’m going to start with number five and work my way down to number one!
Disclaimer: I have visited every one of these reservations at least once, except for Acacia Reservation. I’ve been there for an event at the golf course, but never explored the trails.
5. Lakefront Reservation (a.k.a Edgewater Park) | Cleveland
Why I love it: When I first moved to Lakewood in 2014, I lived within walking distance of this park. I would come here almost every night in the summer to enjoy jaw dropping sunsets like the one pictured above. This area is great for bikers, runners, beach goers, and fans of live music. There’s a little something for everyone here. It feels like every the year they continue to make this park better, with the most recent addition of the Edgewater Beach House. It’s in my top five because of the atmosphere, beach and sunsets, not so much for hiking.
4. Rocky River Reservation | Rocky River
Why I love it: This is the closest park to my house, so whenever I need to quickly escape and explore, this is my go-to place. It spans through several cities, actually, so you can visit this reservation in Berea, Brook Park, Cleveland, Fairview Park, Lakewood, North Olmsted, Olmsted Township, and Rocky River. This is one of my favorite places to visit in the fall. In the summer, I love setting up my hammock right by the river and reading and book while listening to flowing water. This is a great place for long-distance running, too. The paved (and unpaved) trails can take you pretty far!
3. South Chagrin Reservation | Bentleyville, Chagrin Falls
Why I love it: I love all of the trails I’ve hiked in this area, including one of my favorite spots, pictured above. I love sitting on that rock and just watching the water gush down. Right in this same area (Squaw Rock Loop Trail) is the outdoor sculpture known as Henry Church Rock in 1885. This is a great trail for all ages, just be careful in the winter as there are some stone steps that can get pretty slick!
2. Bedford Reservation | Bedford
Why I love it: Honestly, I had a really hard time ranking this as number two. I have a lot of fond memories in this area. My husband proposed to me on the small wooden platform that overlooks Bridal Veil Falls, so I’m a little biased. I love this area any time of year. The creek is a blast to venture down to in the summer when the water is low. There are some hidden waterfalls that are absolute gems. In addition to cool trails by the water, this reservation features a deep gorge carved out by Tinker’s Creek, with a picturesque overlook that is a sight to see when the leaves change in the fall. This park is perfect for hikers, bikers and horse back riders!
1. Brecksville Reservation | Brecksville
Why I love it: Every time I visit this park I find a new area to fall in love with. Deer Lick Cave and Station Road Trailhead* are probably my favorite areas in this park to explore. While there is some beautiful views along the paved trails, where you really need to go is the unmarked areas of the park.. there are some pretty epic waterfalls to see. This area is ranked as number for me because it includes three of my favorite spots, Twin Sister Falls, Greenwood Falls and Contour Falls. If you don’t appreciate some dirt trails, and possibly getting a little muddy/wet along the way, then you may not agree with me. When you’re in this area it doesn’t even feel like you’re in Ohio. It’s easy to get lost in this park for an entire day if you let yourself unplug from the outside world and just explore.
*Parts of this area is owned by Cleveland Metroparks, while other sections are owned by the National Park Service.
Like I mentioned above, I had a really hard time picking just five, so I’ve included three “honorable mentions” listed and pictured below that I also love for different reasons.
North Chagrin Reservation
Euclid Creek Reservation
What’s your favorite Cleveland Metropark to visit?