In the world of phones, tablets and instant TV it’s easy to stick children in front of these devices while getting things done around the house. But, as a new mom and a lover of the outdoors I’ve made it a goal of mine to get outside with my son as much as humanly possible. Research shows that the simple act of playing outside offers the most developmental and health benefits for our children. This has been one of my most highly requested blog topics, so I’m sharing seven of my favorite kid friendly hikes in northeast Ohio.
Penetentiary Glen Reservation | Kirtland
Nature Play is one of the biggest perks of this park, and I can’t wait to take Henry in the spring now that he’s walking. Per the Lake Metropark’s website, Nature play spaces contain mainly natural materials designed to encourage hands-on manipulation and discovery. Natural elements provide inspiration, allowing children to shape their environment and at the same time, exercise judgment and fine motor skills.
Beyond Nature Play, the park itself has flat relatively easy hikes. I personally love the Gorge Rim Loop Trail. I did this hike when Henry was around six months and it was the perfect easy loop, just a little less than a mile.
Hinckley Reservation | Hinckley
Hinckley Reservation is an incredibly family-friendly park! Between the swim area, the lake and Whipps Ledges this is a great reservation for families. We personally love the Hinckley Lake Loop trail. While it’s a little longer of a hike (3 miles), it’s completely flat and incredibly scenic. There are also many paved trails here which makes it great if you have stroller and want something a little easier.
The West Woods | Novelty
The longest trail here is a little less than three miles, which is one reason I love bringing my son here. We can string together a few small trails until he’s ready to go. Add in the fact that there’s a nature center, it’s a great spot to bring kids of all ages. There are two asphalt trails here, which makes it another great spot if you’ve got a stroller with you. Our favorite is the Falls Trail which is a quarter of a mile hike and you get the beautiful views of waterfall before you turn around to head back!
Everett Covered Bridge, Furnace Trail | Peninsula
This area of Cuyahoga Valley National Park is unique in that the only remaining covered bridge in Summit county is here! With access to the creek this is a fun area to bring kids in the summer where they can splash around, collect rocks and look for salamanders. I love visiting here in the spring and hiking Furnace Run Trail to see the bluebells (pictured above). If you do the entire Furnace Run Trail, just keep in mind (especially if you’re baby wearing) there is a large set of stairs at either the beginning or end of your hike!
Carlisle Reservation | Lagrange
This is the largest of the Lorain County Metro Parks, with a section literally built just for children to enjoy. The Nature Discovery Trail is .35 miles long and includes a variety of little cabins like the one pictured above. Each cabin has its own theme and inside featuring fun facts, small activities and even books to enjoy. Outside of the Nature Discovery Trail, this park also offers a beautiful nature center, equestrian trails (perfect if your kiddo loves horses!) and a meadow.
Rocky River Reservation | North Olmsted
This was actually the very first hike we took Henry on when he was three weeks old. I will never stop recommending this park as it truly is one of my favorites in the area. The trails behind the nature center are great for hiking with little ones. There’s always a ton of wildlife in this park too, especially in the winter when it’s easy to see all the birds everywhere! The only tough part of this hike is the Fort Hill stairs, which you can easily avoid and save yourself the huffing and puffing. Not only do I take our son here often, but I am always seeing families here so I know it’s definitely one of the most kid friendly hikes in northeast Ohio.
Castalia Quarry MetroPark | Castalia
We discovered this park over the summer, when I made it a goal to venture outside of our normal parks. Since quarrying efforts ended in the 60s, this barren site continues to return to its natural state over time. This park offers a panoramic view of Sandusky Bay and the Lake Erie Islands from the observation deck (pictured above). Truly unique terrain that you don’t find often in Ohio, this is a really fun park to explore. If you look hard enough you’ll even find fossils that date back to 400 million years ago. I highly recommend sunscreen and a hat for all of your children. The quarry itself has very limited tree coverage, so if it’s not cloudy you’ll definitely get hit with the sun.
So there you have it! These are seven of my favorite kid friendly hikes in northeast Ohio. I’m looking forward to discovering more trails and hikes that are kid friendly as Henry continues to get older and wants to walk on his own more. What are some of your favorite kid friendly hikes in northeast Ohio?