Here’s why you should hit the trails while there’s a chill in the air

Metroparks Art Jan22
Photography: Bill McMinn

By Mimi Vanderhaven

Looking to live in the moment more in 2022? There’s nothing as meditative as immersing yourself in nature with a hike. Not only does it engage your senses, hiking also combines breathtaking scenery, wildlife discovery and solitude—the perfect tonic to pandemic stress.

Through Lake Metroparks we are blessed with more than 60 miles of trails meandering along overlooks and open meadows, mature forests and the bracing Lake Erie shoreline.

Mimi caught up with Interpretive Naturalist Tony Gazso for some insider’s picks of top local hiking destinations.

Best All-Around: Penitentiary Glen
“This offers a pleasant variety of fields and forests, habitats and the opportunity to warm up at the Nature Center after a hike. You’ll see woodpeckers, chickadees, deer and maybe a red fox or two. If it’s snowing, you can also rent snowshoes,” Tony says.

Most Scenic: Chapin Forest Reservation
“There are beautiful overlooks found along the Lucky Stone Loop. On a clear day, you can take in the panoramic view from Lake Erie to the Cleveland skyline,” he notes.

Best for Beginners and Kids: Gully Brook Park
“This flat trail gives you a unique peek into the park’s 100-year history. And the Concord Woods Nature Park has a nice half-mile loop around a pond and woods,” Tony comments.

Best for Advanced Hikers: Girdled Road Reservation and Hell Hollow Wilderness Area
“Both of these offer a variety of elevation changes and fairly strenuous trails,” he says.

Best Birding Trail: Lake Erie Bluffs
“You can birdwatch from the 50-foot observation tower or amongst the grasslands and forest trails,” he says.

Best Great Lakes Experience: Lakeshore Reservation
“Get a different sort of wintry glimpse of the beach and icy snow dunes skirting Lake Erie. Discover a huge sundial and other sculptures on this easy trail suitable for all abilities,” Tony suggests.

So, grab your shoes or boots, dress for the weather, and discover the magnificent nature that lies just beyond your door. Take a deep breath…adventure awaits.

Lake Metroparks maintains more than 62 miles of trails throughout Lake County, including a 4.8-mile bike/hike trail. For more information, visit