Couple walking near Edgewater Beach in Cleveland (photo courtesy of Cleveland Metroparks)
Travel | Cities

5 Must-See Cleveland Metroparks Reservations

This northeast Ohio park system has long been a a guardian of green space. A tour of some of its most popular spots highlights the beauty it protects.

The Cleveland Metroparks system spans 18 reservations across Cuyahoga County and beyond. The first parks were set aside over a century ago and have collectively become known as the Emerald Necklace for the ring of green they create across the region. From urban parks to suburban forests, there are opportunities to hike, bike, fish and swim. For those who want to sample what the 25,000-acre system has to offer, these five reservations make for a satisfying tour.

Lakefront Reservation: Composed of five public parks and one beach, the Lakefront Reservation is a summer favorite for locals and visitors alike. Formed in 2013, the noncontiguous, 484-acre reservation includes piers perfect for fishing, a place for kayakers to shove off at Rivergate in The Flats, and Edgewater Beach, a sand-covered swimming area that contains a space set aside for dogs, a Beach House with concessions and unrivaled views of Cleveland’s downtown skyline. Edgewater Beach: 7600 Cleveland Memorial Shoreway, Cleveland 44102 

Rocky River Reservation: This 2,582-acre reservation that stretches between the border of Lakewood and Rocky River south to Berea is where the Cleveland Metroparks’ first plot of land was purchased in 1917. Following the flow of the Rocky River, the park draws adventurers for on-the-water activities like boating, kayaking and paddleboarding, and the area is known for its steelhead trout fishing. The Emerald Necklace Marina here offers paddleboat rentals and a launch for motorized vessels, as well as the chance to grab a scoop of ice cream. Marina: 1500 Scenic Park Dr., Lakewood 44197

Kids playing at Brecksville Reservation (photo courtesy of Cleveland Metroparks)
Brecksville Reservation: Covering 4,290 acres, Brecksville is the largest of the Cleveland Metroparks reservations and one of its most scenic. (It’s also located next to Cuyahoga Valley National Park.) A popular feature is the Chippewa Creek Gorge Trail, which leads hikers along the edge of a gorge carved by the glaciers that moved through this part of Ohio. Other favorites include the Brecksville Nature Center as well as Deer Lick Cave. One of the reservation’s newer trails is My Mountain, a 2-mile route with a scenic overlook. 9000 Chippewa Rd., Brecksville 44141

Bedford Reservation: The sounds of Deerlick Creek’s rushing waters accompany hikers on their way to Bridal Veil Falls, a popular attraction that sits at the end of a 0.4-mile, out-and-back hike, which includes a boardwalk and steps. The reservation is home to other waterfalls as well, such as the Great Falls of  Tinkers Creek, a 20-foot-tall cascade that has become a favorite stop for waterfall seekers. A network of more than 10 miles of hiking trails runs through the wooded reservation. Gorge Parkway, off Egbert Road in Bedford 44146 

Squire’s Castle at Cleveland Metroparks’ North Chagrin Reservation in Willoughby Hills (photo courtesy of Cleveland Metroparks)
North Chagrin Reservation:
 Squire’s Castle in Willoughby Hills is often what first draws travelers to this reservation, and the 1890s structure modeled after German and English castles offers a perfect picnicking spot with its large lawn. This park is also full of natural wonders, like the 30-foot Buttermilk Falls, which is accessible from a 0.8-mile trail, and the A.B Williams Memorial Woods. The forest is home to centuries-old trees as well as hiking and horseback-riding trails. Squire’s Castle: 2844 River Rd., Willoughby Hills 44094