Summer Nature Hikes in Northeast Ohio

Summer Nature Hikes in Northeast Ohio

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Sometimes there’s no better way to get back to nature than a walk in the woods—especially if you have young kids looking to burn off some energy. So ditch the video games and find a tree to hug (they’re alive, you know!). Here are some of our family’s favorite trails to explore.

Holden Arboretum (Sperry Road, Kirtland)

This nature walk in Lake County is great for kids (and adults) of all ages. You have your choice of trails, from wide, flat walkways through manicured gardens, to steeper dirt trails in the forest. If you’re looking for a workout, you can climb the Kalberer Emergent Tower for a 12-story-high view above the canopy all the way up to Lake Erie. Kids will love playing in the Stickwork sculpture and in the Buckeye Bud’s Adventure Woods play area or just hiding under the branches of their favorite tree.

Squire’s Castle (North Chagrin Reservation, River Road, Willoughby Hills)

This favorite summer spot for families also offers great opportunities for nature hikes. Head out behind the castle and hit one of the trails for a lovely walk along some high ridges. I think this walk is even better in the fall when the leaves are all aglow. And, to top it all off, you can enjoy a picnic and maybe a game of Frisbee on the enormous castle lawn.

Mentor Lagoons Nature Preserve (Harbor Drive, Mentor)

Even if you’re not up for a day on the water, the Lagoons has wonderful woodsy trails to explore—and they’re not too steep, either. Cross over some pretty streams and wind your way uphill to the pine forests and the cliffs overlooking Lake Erie. The views are truly stunning.

Pete’s Pond Preserve (Rockefeller Road, Wickliffe)

You probably wouldn’t expect to find this tiny gem behind the parking lot of Wickliffe High School, but if you have younger kids this is a good bet — there are plenty of woodland animals to chase through the brush, and the trail is relatively short. The wide trails meander down a long hill to a swampy preserve. If you make it to the large wildlife viewing deck, you’ll be rewarded with great views of the marsh and plenty of birdwatching opportunities.

Girdled Road Reservation (Girdled Road, Concord Township)

There are several trails in this Concord reserve, and some are more challenging than others (think very steep hills). But if you make it down to the bottom of the ravine, kids will have an absolute blast in Big Creek. Wear good water shoes so you can continue your hike down the creek bed and hunt for minnows. And the suspension bridge above the creek is super fun to bounce across.

Mohican State Park (State Route 3, Loudonville)

For something a little different, make a day trip out of it and head south toward Columbus. The narrow, hairpin trails hugging steep hillsides in this park are more of a challenging hike for older kids in your family. (I definitely wouldn’t try this one if you have a stroller or wagon in tow.) But the rewards are great when you arrive at Lyons Falls. After a nice hike, you can check out Pleasant Hill Dam, or hit the Mohican River for some swimming or tubing.

Old Man’s Cave (State Route 664, Logan)

I had to add this one because, come on, it’s Old Man’s Cave. Any place you choose to hike in Hocking Hills is wonderful, but this trail remains one of the best, with lots of shallow streams to wade in, craggy rocks to clamber up, and of course the huge sandstone formations that are just as cool to look at as they are to climb through. We also love hiking to the waterfall at Ash Cave and through the spectacular formations at Rock House.

Where are your favorite spots to go for a nature walk? Be sure to let us know in the comments so we can give them a try.

About the author

Jennifer Bonnar is a Lake County resident, mom of a young son and daughter, and wife of fellow blogger Jason Lea. Her day job is in the publishing industry, in which she’s worked for 12 years. She graduated with a degree in journalism from Ohio University and earned her MBA from Lake Erie College. In her past life she worked in marketing at Cleveland Clinic and as an intern on the TV series “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.” Born in Pittsburgh, she receives regular razzing for her lack of interest in Cleveland sports. She loves to travel and keeps busy taking her kids to karate class, reading and writing whenever possible, and of course finding ways to live greener!

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