If you are an avid hiker, or just a casual outdoor explorer, the Summit Metro Parks has you covered. With 150 miles of trails snaking through 16 parks in Summit County, there’s much to be discovered. From the winding and hilly trails of Sand Run to the impressive waterfalls at Gorge Metropark in Cuyahoga Falls, you won’t be disappointed in the myriad of offerings awaiting in the greater Akron region.
Each month, my friends and I choose a Summit Metro Park to visit together. We always have a fantastic time, even in the colder winter months. Our favorite locations are those that have unique landscapes and “Instagrammable” spots, such as cliffs or water features. From all of our adventures, we’ve found some of the best spots that are worth a visit:
This park is known to attract a great deal of runners, since the trails are long and wide. But even if you are not a runner, you can enjoy the trails on a leisurely hike. They are heavily wooded, with lots of hills, twists, turns, and wildlife. It’s incredibly serene and peaceful, as you are covered in a canopy of trees along with the flowing creeks. A great place to come to relax or run!
Head to Cascade Valley Metro Park for two things: The Overlook and the Signal Tree. The Overlook offers an incredible photo opportunity and view of the valley and the Cuyahoga River from 125 feet up. The views are spectacular and unbeatable. Meanwhile, the Chuckery Trail passes by the impressive Indian Signal Tree, a well-known landmark in the area that is hundreds of years old, and believed to have been used by Native Americans to mark their path.
Twinsburg is known for its incredibly picturesque rock formations, particularly the system of trails located in the Twinsburg Ledges Area. The Ledges Trail allows hikers to walk along the sandstone ledges that lead to Glacier Cave, which you will easily spot when you see the massive “slit” in the rocks. All signs along the pathway describe the rocks as having “living skin,” as they are covered by plants, moss, lichen, and other vegetation. The area is rocky, so it’s important to keep to the trails, even if you are tempted to deviate from the path to get a good photo! Another great trail is the nearby Black Bear Trail, which gives you a chance to see more of the ledges, and some freshwater springs. It’s one of the longer trails available (over 2 miles), so bring some extra bug spray.
Located at these trailheads is the Liberty Park Nature Center. This newly built structure includes a mini gift shop, restrooms, and plenty of interactive and educational components. The staff on hand is extremely engaging, showing travelers snakeskin and fur from species often found in the area. Our crew even took a rest in the comfortable rocking chairs facing a wall of windows, designed for a perfect bird watching experience.
If you want more than just a hike, the Parcours Trail at Goodyear Heights Metro Park is perfect for you. The trail is peppered with exercise stations designed to get you moving. Everything from jumping jacks, to pull-ups, to balance beams and stretching stations. If you intend to follow along, dress appropriately, bring some extra water, and be prepared to sweat! There are also giant hills on site that are great for sledding in the wintertime.
The Gorge Trails at the Gorge Metro Park in Cuyahoga Falls are full of remarkable rock formations along some slightly rugged terrain. A boardwalk and wooden staircase were recently installed to make the hike easier. The unmistakable sound of crashing water can be heard while on the majority of the 1.8-mile path. The falls you see are primarily due to a manmade dam, but you can also spot some natural cascades, known as the Big Falls. You can take a detour out of the woods and spot the Little Falls, located in downtown Cuyahoga Falls. These waterfalls are how the city received its name.
For more information on Ohio’s outdoors, check out Travel Inspiration at Ohio.org.