So much to see and do in Lake County this Winter

Metro Parksdecember
Photography: Jim Marquardt

By Mimi Vanderhaven

According to the World Happiness Report 2021, eight of the top 10 happiest countries are in cold-weather climates, with arctic Finland coming in at number one.

What do they know that we could learn from them? There’s nothing quite like immersing yourself in the great outdoors, no matter the season.

I caught up with Chief of Outdoor Education for Lake Metroparks, Seth Begeman, for his recommendations for wintry al fresco playtime in Lake County.

Here are his top picks:

  • Snowshoeing — This adventuresome, something-different pastime has been growing in popularity, especially across our parks and snow-covered overlooks. All you need is three or four inches of snow and a pair of boots. It takes no skill. If you can walk you can snowshoe.
  • Cross-Country Skiing — You’ll find both groomed and ungroomed trails to explore. Rent both skis and snowshoes on a reservation-only basis at Chapin Forest Pine Lodge Ski Center. Don’t miss the one-mile trail at Chapin Forest that’s illuminated every evening from dusk until the park closes. It’s perfect for skiing or hiking. And for kicking back après ski-time, you can hang out by the roaring outdoor gas fireplace near the center’s entrance.
  • Sledding — If chills and thrills on the hills are more your speed, there are four prime sledding destinations in Lake Metroparks. For the smallest hill, perfect for the littlest sledders, don’t miss Chapin Forest Reservation. Hidden Valley Park offers the next steepest descent, and Chagrin River Park the next highest height. Riverview Park provides the steepest, fastest, most daring ride.
  • Camping — For a fully immersive experience, why not try winter camping at Girdled Road Reservation in Concord Township? It is a hike-in or ski-in site about three-quarters of a mile into the Big Creek Valley. Enjoy the park in a new way from the cozy comfort of your tent.

“We hope to encourage people to avoid hibernation this time of year and get out and embrace the scenic beauty of our trails and parks,” says Seth.

For Lake Metroparks trail conditions, call the Winter Sports Hotline at 440-256-2118, ext. 4178 or check Facebook or Twitter. Visit for details.