As much as I love going on a hike, very few things can beat an Ohio hike during FALL. No humidity, fewer bugs, and the crunch of leaves underfoot. #Perfection. Ohio delivered the most glorious autumn day, and Summit Metro Parks provided the history and scenery that did not disappoint. There are so many great hiking spots in Northeast Ohio, and Summit Metro Parks and this was definitely one not to miss.
Summit Metro Park covers more than 14,000 acres and offers more than 125 miles of hiking trails. This is just a small sampling of what you can do and see – I’ll be sure to add to this post as we visit more of this beautiful part of Ohio.
Gorge Metro Park
Our first stop in Summit Metro Parks was Gorge Metro Park. Gorge Metro Park is located in Cuyahoga Falls, OH and is an outstanding place to enjoy views of the Cuyahoga River, a large cave, and even do some fishing.
We ventured out on the Gorge Trail (aptly named) in hopes to see the Mary Campbell Cave. The cave is named after a 12-year-old Pennsylvania girl that was kidnapped from her home by the Delaware Indians. She was released 5 years later, in 1764, at the close of the French & Indian War. It is believed that she dwelt in the cave with the Native Americans!
The history is fascinating, and the size of the cave is more than I expected.
Unfortunately, the upper trail was closed past the cave, so we took the trail shortcut down to the Observation Deck. I could have sat here for hours and listened to the waterfall created by the Dam. Tourists have been flocking to this area since the late 1800s, at one time a small amusement park was adjoined!
While the Observation Deck isn’t handicap accessible or stroller-friendly, shortly after this the Gorge Trail does become paved. If you’re looking for a short trail to take unsteady feet, this would be a good one (See-> Best Ohio Hikes for Kids).
The kiddos were getting a little antsy, so we headed back to the car for some snacks and scoped out our next stop within Summit Metro Parks.
Cascade Valley Metro Park
Indian Signal Tree
I’d read something briefly about an Indian Signal Tree and thought this would be a piece of homeschooling history that we could not miss! The Indian Signal Tree is located in the Chuckery area of Cascade Valley Metro Park. This bur oak is over 300 years old and was used by the Natives to find their way from the Cuyahoga River to Summit Lake.
My mind wandered to the countless history that this tree has witnessed! I sat there in disbelief – that for most of my life I’ve lived less than 2-3 hours away and yet didn’t know this existed? This is why we choose to explore nearby areas and view local destinations as important as those that are hundreds or thousands of miles away!
The Signal Tree is only about 100 yards from the closest parking spot, so this is an easy place to jump out and learn some history. There is an attached 2.4-mile Chuckery Trail, but we did not venture on it.
Captivated by Summit Metro Parks, we wanted to make one more stop before heading home.
The Overlook Trail is also located with the Cascade Valley Metro Park, but in a different area than the Signal Tree. The parking lot is located at 354 Sackett Ave., Akron.
The half-mile Overlook Trail is paved and ADA compliant. There is a clean bathroom at the trailhead, and plenty of park benches to stop for a rest. If you are up for a more vigorous hike, the Oxbox Trail is 1.2 miles and is rated moderate. For more information, see the Cascade Valley Metro Park MAP.
This is the perfect NE Ohio hiking spot for fall foliage (and for posting to Instagram, lol). I think we missed it by a week. If you’re looking for a very easy hike in Northeast Ohio, this is it!
What to bring for hiking in Summit Metro Parks:
Summit Metro Parks is located in and around Akron, Ohio – so there are plenty of places to eat! Restrooms were found at Gorge Metro Park and at the Overlook Trail.
Pack your favorite water bottle – we LOVE Contigo water bottles! If you have little ones (or a child with a broken leg *sigh) – bring your favorite stroller for the Overlook Trail. For the other trails, you may want a walking stick, baby carrier (if applicable), and a good tennis shoe.
Have you been hiking in Northeast Ohio? Visited Summit Metro Parks?? We still have so much more to explore!
Looking for more hikes nearby?? Check out our 5 Favorite Spots within Cuyahoga Valley National Park, particularly Brandywine Falls and The Ledges Trail.