A couple of months ago, we got invited to a wedding in Ohio, a place that we had never really thought about visiting, and not for any specific reason either. It’s just not New York or California, places that everyone says, “Oh dude, you’ve got to go!” My brother had spent some time there almost two decades ago and I think I remember hearing nice things, but we really didn’t know what to expect. We only had a few days there. So, ahead of our trip, we made plans with my cousin, Christina (who you’ll see in a lot of the photos here – miss you gurl!), to visit South Chagrin Reservation to do some hiking. Besides the utterly beautiful wedding that we were lucky enough to attend, the hike was definitely one of the highlights of our trip.
We arrived early in the morning and the weather was perfect; sunny, but cool and comfortable. We ended up parking in the first lot that we came upon, which was at the corner of Chagrin River Rd and Sulphur Springs Dr. This parking lot wasn’t on the trail map, but we could see a paved trail leading into the trees and decided to take it.
We ended up going over a bridge as we got closer to the river and noticed multiple smaller paths that lead left and right off of the main trail. We wanted to get to the river, so we eventually took one of the paths that we figured would lead us in the right direction (smart, right? I think this is how people end up on that show, “I Shouldn’t Be Alive”). To be honest, the park was pretty easy to navigate without using the map. As long as you remember what side of the river you’re on when you start out, it’s pretty easy to find your way back. We continued wandering around on the trails; some being dirt paths and others leading up and down stairs and rocky inclines. When we finally got to the riverbank, we spent some time basking in the sun and jumping from rock to rock to make our way into the middle of the calmly rushing water.
After about three hours of hiking, we decided it was time to start heading back to our car, but we realized we were on the opposite side of the river. We found where we were on the map and saw that we could either take the long way back to our car in the direction that we had come from, or we could just cross the river right then and there and be back at our car within the hour. We said, “Hey, we’re adventurous people! Let’s walk through the river!” I do not necessarily recommend this. We took off our shoes and socks and looked for a spot that seemed the least dangerous to cross (once again… dumb). Once we stepped in, we found that the rocks underneath the surface of the water were very slippery due to being covered with algae. One wrong step and we could have had an injury on our hands. Did that knowledge cause one of us to say, “Guys, this isn’t worth the risk”? No, of course not! We made our way across in what felt like thirty minutes, but was probably closer to five. Luckily, none of us fell. We arrived at the other side unscathed and feeling very accomplished if I may say so. We let our feet dry in the sun and started heading to our last point of interest before leaving the park – Henry Church Rock, or locally known as Squaw Rock, which is a sculpture that was carved by Henry Church Jr in 1885 – not much to say about it except for, “pretty cool!”
- Wear shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty – some parts of the trail were a bit muddy (I’m realizing now that this tip is pointless because everyone is thinking, “Duh. If you go hiking, your shoes are going to get dirty.” But my thought process was, “Let me wear my pristine white Nikes because they look good with my outfit.” I somewhat regret that decision.)
- Bring water shoes if you plan to go in the river.
- Dress appropriately depending on what time of year you go. We went in August and the temperature was a perfect 75 degrees F.
- Print out or screenshot the map of the park on your phone and make a note of the emergency number for the Metro Parks Police, both of which you can find here.
- The park is pretty big, so give yourself a few hours if you really want to hike all of the trails.
- The difficulty of the hike is pretty mild, making it great for kids and adults alike!
This next part has nothing to do with our hike, but it’s definitely worth mentioning. During our trip to Ohio, we also made it to Cleveland Vegan, a completely vegan cafe, for dinner and breakfast. If you are ever in Cleveland, you MUST eat here. The food and service was amazing and we couldn’t stop talking about it for days. For dinner, we had the banh mi, the caprese salad with homemade vegan mozzarella, the seitan gyro, and the tofu tacos, which you can see pictured here. As a light dessert, we tried a couple of drinks from their seasonal drink menu: a lavender latte (with lavender syrup made in-house) and an iced horchata. Both were delicious, but I have to say that the lavender latte really blew my mind. I’m kind of obsessed with lavender; it’s my favorite smell, one of my favorite colors, and my favorite loose leaf tea is a medley of lady grey with lavender flowers and extract. I thought whoever decided to put lavender in coffee is a genius. For breakfast, we tried one of their bagels with vegan schmear and a breakfast sandwich with potatoes and a homemade ranch dressing, plus their DONUTS. We got one of each, which ended up being about six different kinds. SO FREAKIN GOOD. We actually ate these as a 2am snack after the wedding – perfection.
Overall, Cleveland, Ohio was a beautiful place. We really enjoyed our short stay there. We had great food, the people were friendly, and we definitely wouldn’t mind going back! There are many more trails in Ohio that would be fun to explore as well, maybe during the winter for a different experience. Have you ever been to Ohio or thought about visiting? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Let us know in the comments!