Cleveland May 14, 2018
9 Dreamy Parks Around Cleveland That Are Overflowing With Wildlife
Cleveland and its surroundings are overflowing with stunning beauty, but the most incredible majesty is undoubtedly found in the birdsong-filled natural areas of Northeast Ohio. In areas that are overflowing with wildlife, there is much to see, hear, and discover. Each step is an adventure, and around every bend on hiking trails is a new discovery waiting to be made. Now that the sun is shining and nature has awoken from its dormant wintertime state, you’ll probably want to lace up your hiking boots to start exploring the region’s most beautiful parks. For a guaranteed encounter with wildlife, start your journey with some of these places near Cleveland:
1. Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail (Northeast Ohio)
The Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail stretches from Cuyahoga County to Tuscarawas County, an incredible 85-mile trek through Ohio's most beautiful region. This path follows the iconic route where mules once pulled boats along the canal. They walked the path from 1827 to 1913, but today, nearly 2.5 million visitors swing by the incredible path each year. Here in Cleveland, the trail can be accessed on Scranton Road in the Flats. The pier over the river provides an incredible way to view fish in an urban environment.
2. Magee Marsh Wildlife Area (13229 West State Route 2, Oak Harbor)
Amongst these 2,202 acres of gorgeous marshlands are a stunning array of birds and other critters. This stunning stretch of nature has been coveted by locals since the late 1800s, and it has served the area as a park since 1951. Though the marsh is a bit further of a drive from Cleveland, it is well worth it. This urban oasis is actually regarded as one of the best birding sites in Ohio! You can find our full article on this dreamy destination
3. Sand Run Metro Park (2400 Sand Run Pkwy., Fairlawn)
Imagine "spotting" one of these cuties along your hike! This 998-acre site has long delighted visitors with its stunning array of wildlife. It first opened as a park in 1929, but it has been celebrated for much longer. The area was once a campsite for an indigenous tribe and it again served as a campsite when General Elijah Wadsworth set up a post there during the War of 1812. Sand Run and its tributary streams continue to be a haven for local wildlife, including critters of all shapes and sizes. Purportedly, a small wetland near Sand Run Parkway and Merriman Road is an incredible place to witness amphibian breeding behaviors each spring.
4. Tinkers Creek State Nature Preserve (1230 Old Mill Rd., Aurora)
This incredible 786-acre state nature preserve and the creek for which it is named carves through Portage and Summit Counties. The creek and its surrounding wetlands provided incredible habitat for waterfowl, but quite a few mammals inhabit the region as well. You can find the full story in our article
5. Rocky River Reservation (Valley Pkwy., North Olmsted)
This stunning park is one of the most incredible in the Emerald Necklace, but it was also the first. When a tiny 3.8-acre parcel of the park was purchased in 1919, it became the first Cleveland Metropark. Today, a great deal of wildlife continues to thrive in and around the Rocky River, a site which is regarded as one of the finest fishing spots in the country. In spring of 2018, a pair of nesting bald eagles in the reservation welcomed three new baby eaglets, passing on the park's beauty to a new generation.
6. Mill Stream Run Reservation (Valley Parkway, Strongsville)
At the southernmost end of Valley Parkway are Berea, Middleburg Heights, North Royalton, and Strongsville. Mill Stream Run stretches through these stunning cities, a park accented by the East Branch of the Rocky River and its tributaries. The environment, much like the gorgeous Rocky River reservation at the north end of the road, hosts a diverse ecosystem.
7. Silver Creek Metro Park (5171 S. Medina Line Rd., Norton)
Minks like this one pictured above can be found in every one of Ohio's 88 counties, but they maintain a higher population around the streams and rivers here in the eastern half of the state. The expanse of the 1,008-acre Silver Creek Metro Park contains quite a few places where one may encounter these critters. Not only will visitors discover a bit of wildlife during their visit, they will also find history hidden all across the landscape. Keep your eyes peeled for a stately old barn... part of it dates back to the Civil War!
8. North Chagrin Reservation (401 Buttermilk Falls Pkwy., Mayfield Village)
In North Chagrin Reservation, wetlands, woodlands, and wildlife interact in the most magical way. This pretty place is also the home of
, making the landscape feel even more like a scene from a fairytale. Spanning Mayfield Village, Willoughby Hills, and Gates Mills, this park offers many spectacular hikes that will lead you past a stunning array of wildlife.
9. Brecksville Reservation (9000 Chippewa Creek Dr., Brecksville)
As the largest of the Cleveland Metroparks' reservations, Brecksville Reservation hosts an incredible diversity of wildlife. Its landscape includes a tallgrass prairie, seven distinct gorges, and even two golf courses. If you keep your eyes peeled, you may encounter endangered plants and a number of gorgeous creatures lurking around them in this pretty place.
Remember throughout your hikes to leave only footprints. While you may feel that you are in your own backyard, you are truly treading through these beautiful animals’ home. This summer, you may even encounter a few of them on your hikes!
For more local fun, consider exploring these
underrated places in Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood.