By Pat Morse, Lake Metroparks Interpretive Manager
Now that fall has officially arrived, many of us look forward to a change in the air, cooler days and a more colorful landscape. We are fortunate to live in the temperate zone, where the climate changes each season—the variety of weather certainly keeps life interesting for us in northeast Ohio. For those of you who suffer in the heat of summer, fall is a welcome relief! For those of you who dread the freezing cold and driving in snowstorms, fall can be an extension of your summer outdoor activities. Lake Metroparks offers special places to enjoy the fall season.
Choose a park to…
1) FEEL THE CRUNCH BENEATH YOUR FEET AS YOU WALK THE TRAILS ANKLE-DEEP WITH FALLEN LEAVES
2) HEAR THE WIND BLOW THROUGH THE TREES AND THE WAVES CRASH ON LAKE ERIE’S SHORELINE.
3) SMELL THE EARTHY AROMA OF THE FOREST FOLLOWING A FALL RAINSTORM.
4) BE A “LEAF PEEPER!”
See an array of colors—from yellows to oranges to reds to purples—as our forest trees change color. As the leaves begin to dry in preparation for winter, the chlorophyll in the leaves, which gives them their green color, disappears and reveals the vivid colors underneath that were there all along. Did you know that less than 25 percent of the earth’s land mass experiences vivid fall colors similar to those in northeast Ohio?
5) SAVOR A TASTY LUNCH OR DINNER WITH YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY AT ONE OF THE PARK SHELTERS OR PICNIC AREAS.
6) CAST A LINE IN A POND OR STREAM—WHAT WILL YOU CATCH?
Steelhead trout begin making their way from Lake Erie into our rivers and streams, and fall is a perfect time to land a trophy Ohio steelhead. Remember that you are required to have a fishing license when fishing in Lake Erie, Veterans Park and all rivers and streams. However, no license is required in the ponds at Penitentiary Glen Reservation, Concord Woods Nature Park, Girdled Road Reservation (south), Hidden Lake (catch and release only), Hidden Valley Park (north) and River Road Park. These are great locations for a child’s first catch!
7) SCAN THE SKIES WITH BINOCULARS FOR MIGRATING BIRDS AND MONARCH BUTTERFLIES HEADING SOUTH FOR THE WINTER.
Parks along the Lake Erie shoreline and along the Grand River and Chagrin River corridors offer some of the best birding in the area. Watch for hawks and ducks flying overhead, songbirds feasting on insects and seeds after their long trip over Lake Erie, and shorebirds on the shores of lakes and rivers. Monarch butterflies are often found early in the morning and at dusk resting in groups on tree branches in our lakeshore parks—catching their breath after crossing Lake Erie on their way to Mexico.
8) ENJOY A SUNSET ALONG THE LAKE ERIE SHORE.
9) TAKE YOUR BICYCLE OUT FOR ONE OR MORE RIDES—BEFORE IT IS PUT AWAY FOR THE WINTER!
The Greenway Corridor offers 4.8 paved miles through the wooded communities of Painesville and Concord Townships. Its southern end connects with Geauga Park District’s Maple Highlands Trail that travels through Chardon and down to Amish country in Middlefield.
10. WARM UP BY THE FIRE!
As days grow shorter and nights grow colder, a campfire offers a cozy spot to relax after a busy afternoon of raking leaves and preparing your yard for winter. Many of our parks provide firewood and a great place for a campfire. These parks have picnic shelters with a fireplace: Chapin Forest Reservation (Twin Ponds shelter), Concord Woods Nature Park, Girdled Road Reservation (South), Lake Erie Bluffs and Veterans Park. Other parks have an open-air fire ring: Chagrin River Park, Gully Brook Park, Helen Hazen Wyman Park, Hidden Valley Park, Lakeshore Reservation (West), Penitentiary Glen Reservation and Riverview Park. Don’t forget the hotdogs and s’mores!