Cleveland is garnished with 2,552 acres of trails setup for hours of free family fun. Rocky River Reservation is sectioned by the North and South, thanks to the zoning of the Metroparks and mother nature. It is a place for local Clevelanders and tourists to capture the true natural beauty of the Rocky River that winds from the city of Berea to Lake Eerie. Thanks to Canadian glaciers millions of years ago, the Rocky River Reservation offers the picturesque gorge, three golf courses, a hands-on nature center, marina, horse stables, and all-purpose nature trails.
If you have a few hours available anytime during the week/weekend, taking a short trip out to the reservation for a pleasant stroll is well worth it. It is located south-west of downtown Cleveland, about two minutes from the Cleveland airport, and is open from 6A.M. to 11P.M. There are entrances to the reservation in Berea, Brook Park, Cleveland, Fairview Park, Lakewood, North Olmsted, Olmsted Township, and Rocky River.
It is best advised to take a stroll or park your car at the Nature Center before setting out for a walk, bike, hike and/or horse ride. There is plenty of parking and has a plentitude of information to help you throughout your nature adventure. As an added plus, there are maps available for free to help guide you through all the trails. These are just outside the main nature center doors so you do not have to worry about waiting until someone opens the nature center. Since the trail is not marked as well as it could be, I highly suggest getting a free paper map to take along for the day just in case you find yourself lost or in need of directions.
While you are at the Nature Center, feel free to look around, if you are there when it is open. It is a great place for your children to explore nature and exhibits of early American settlers. There are also various puzzles, a dress up in settler’s clothes section and even a small library (books can not leave this room though) which are wonderful for children under five years of age. In addition there are seats to enjoy indoors or outdoors which provide a relaxing way to enjoy the lookout point of the river. The Nature Center does fill up after lunchtime though, so I suggest going during the morning hours instead of afternoon/evenings when it is busier.
Once you have a map in hand, it is time to start exploring the great outdoors. There are ten different trails to travel upon which are:
Trail #1: Mount Pleasant Loop Trail- 1.5 miles. “Hike along wetlands up to an older oak forest. Big trees with wide, spreading branches indicate that this area was once a pasture.”
Trail #2: Shepard Lane Trail – 0.2 mile. “Meander by wetlands between Shephard Lane and the Wildlife Management Loop Trail on this route.”
Trail #3: Wildlife Management Loop Trail – 1.5 miles. “Experience a myriad of habitats along this level trail. The wetlands it crosses are in the former channel of the West Branch of the Rocky River.”
Trail #4: West Channel Pond Loop Trail- 0.5 mile. “Circle West Channel Pond and its associated wetlands on this level trail. Many wetland birds and animals can be seen.”
Trail #5: Fort Hill Loop Trail – 1.3 miles. “Climb to the top of Fort Hill, which is named for it ancient earthworks. Views of the Rocky River, 100 feet below, are wonderful all year.”
Trail #6: Cedar Point Loop Trail- 0.4 mile. “Follow the edge of the Rocky River Valley, and the river’s West Branch Cedar Point. Enjoy extraordinary views of the river.”
Trail #7: Woodland Loop Trail- 0.3 mile. “Paved and nearly level, this trail visits the wildflower garden and offers views of the Rocky River.”
Trail #8: Lagoon Loop Trail- 0.6 mile. “Traverse the edge of the lagoon wetland on this trail that is also the all purpose trail for a short distance.”
Trail #9: All Purpose Trail- 13.6 miles. “Paved trail for activities like cycling, walking and in-line skating. Motorized vehicles are prohibited.”
Trail #10: Bridle Trail- (3 trails) RR1-12.1 miles; RR2-2.1 miles; RR3-1.2 miles. “Markers denote specific bridle trails which are indicated by a number following the prefix “RR”. Bicycles and motorized vehicles are prohibited.”
Planning a whole-day trip to the Southern Rocky River Reservation is very simple since the layout is situated for a day of full family fun. There are ten different attractions specific to the Southern section of the Rocky River Reservation (excluding the Nature Center mentioned above). Each of the trails lead to these attractions but parking is also available outside each one. The ten attractions are:
Family Fun Attraction #1: Cedar Point Picnic Area– public restrooms & Telephone available
Family Fun Attraction #2: Little Cedar Point Picnic Area– public restrooms available
Family Fun Attraction #3: Frostville Museum (a few 1800’s houses and one church to view from outdoors for free)
Family Fun Attraction #4: Maple Grove Picnic Area – public restrooms available
Family Fun Attraction #5: Lewis Road Riding Ring
Family Fun Attraction #6: Lagoon Picnic Area – public restrooms available
Family Fun Attraction #7: Willow Bend Picnic Area– public restrooms available
Family Fun Attraction #8: Berea Falls Scenic Overlook
Family Fun Attraction #9: Nature Center Trailhead
Family Fun Attraction #10: Bagley Road Trailhead