Cleveland Metroparks Launches "Trails United"
9/12/12 by Ohio Bikeways
From clemeparks.com, "Cleveland Metroparks is embarking on a long term effort to repair, rehabilitate and redesign our trails to protect natural resources and enhance public experience. Trails are vital to community health and wellness and a key economic tool in making our region a more desirable place to visit and live. We are committed to improving trails for all, including hikers, mountain bikers, equestrians, runners and skiers.
"We can achieve a world class trails system making Cleveland a destination for outdoor enthusiasts." more...
4/8/10 by Ohio Bikeways
Finding your way around the Emerald Necklace can be problematic for first time visitors. To make the most of your visit, be sure to obtain a map and a Pathfinder Guide from the Cleveland Metroparks. Call them at 216-351-6300 to place your request. There may be a fee.
Emerald Necklace Revisited
7/28/09 by Ohio Bikeways
We made our way back to the Emerald Necklace to have another go at the trail system. Consequently we've updated the review page and specs and will be adding the trail network to the Ohio Trails map sometime later this year.
A quick summary: For those who want to explore the entire necklace and include the Big Creek Reservation side trip, expect to cover more than 70 miles. Poor signage will have you making some wrong turns. And doubling back to your car will inflate mileage dramatically.
The trail network is extensive and old in spots, so look for surface conditions to vary from poor to perfect. Avoid a skinny-tired ride to maintain comfort throughout the day. Skinny tires can manage, but you're average speed will drop considerably on sections with poor or deteriorating asphalt.
10/2/08 by Lynda Warner
[This review covers the eastern 2/3 of the Necklace from the Mill Stream Run Reservation to the North Chagrin Reservation.]
Heading east from Valley Parkway in Mill Stream Run Reservation, the first half of the eastern section of the Emerald Necklace is quite hilly. There are, however, several places which make nice rest stops. Entering the Brecksville Reservation on the All-purpose Trail along Valley Parkway, expect to be challenged, but also awed by the beauty of the large trees which thrive here. You will be blessed with deep shade, and restrooms are available at the Oak Hill picnic area and also at Chippewa Ford Field.
To get from Brecksville to Bedford Reservation, my advice would be to cross Riverview Road and enter the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Turn left past the Cuyahoga Valley train station, cross the footbridge, and turn left onto the towpath. From here there are several options, but if you wish to continue east on the Emerald Necklace, ride the towpath until you see Alexander Road, which can be reached by leaving the towpath and crossing Canal Road. A few miles east on Alexander, at Dunham Road, the All-purpose Trail can be taken into Bedford Reservation. (On the right before Dunham is a parking lot and the northern terminus of the Summit County Bike and Hike Trail.)
In Bedford you will also encounter shade, breathtaking scenery and slightly more moderate hills. Restrooms are available across from the Tinkers Creek Gorge Scenic Overlook, at the Egbert Picnic Area, and in the small building on the right just before you reach Egbert Road. (Water is also available at the latter two sites.) At this point the APT turns left along Egbert, and you will cross Union Street at the stop sign. The trail takes you under a bridge at Broadway and then along a straight stretch of Hawthorne Parkway to the Richmond Road crossing. At this point you are in the South Chagrin Reservation, and will continue along 3-4 straight, mostly sunny miles of APT with a few moderate hills and 5 road crossings. After crossing Rte. 91 (SOM Center Road) it will again become more shady and somewhat hilly. Take the left fork of the APT at Sulphur Springs Drive (There is a rest room at Sulphur Springs Picnic Area) and continue to the park entrance at Chagrin River Road.
Back in the early 1940’s, The Cleveland Metroparks made a bid to extend the Emerald Necklace (the name given to the system of over 60 miles of paved all-purpose trails that surround the city of Cleveland) to connect the North and South Chagrin reservations. However, they were opposed by the local townships, primarily Gates Mills. Consequently, there are 10 miles between the South Chagrin and North Chagrin Reservations which are on open road. This is not such a bad thing, however, because the route that connects these parkways is the quiet and very scenic—and biker-friendly— Chagrin River Road, with a country feel and a speed limit of 35 mph. Traffic is usually pretty light except during peak times. There are three traffic lights to encounter (one at S. Woodland Rd. in Moreland Hills, one at Fairmount Blvd. in Hunting Valley, and one at Mayfield Road in Gates Mills) and four stop signs (one at Miles Road just outside of the eastern entrance to South Chagrin Reservation, one in the Village of Gates Mills, and two at Wilson Mills Road, just east of the southern entrance to North Chagrin Reservation). The rest of this ride is smooth sailing, winding to and fro along--as the name would suggest--the Chagrin River. You will see fields, pastures, nice country homes, and often some wildlife. I prefer riding it early on weekend mornings.
There is a choice when riding through the main body of South Chagrin Reservation. Around a mile after crossing S.O.M. Center Road, one can either stay straight along Hawthorn Parkway or turn left onto Sulphur Springs Drive. This is actually a loop of the paved trail; either option will take the rider to Chagrin River Road, where he will turn left, crossing Miles Road to continue north along the route.
After traveling the all-purpose trail of the South Chagrin Reservation from west to east, you will come to Chagrin River Road, and the paved trail ends here. Turn left and cross Miles Road. The road is slightly narrow and winding and pavement may be rough in spots, but in general should be a pleasant ride, with only a few hills, particularly the one just before the traffic light at S. Woodland Road. From this point on the road seems wider and the scenery more open. Watch for potholes, although they do a good job of keeping them filled in. After a few miles you will encounter another traffic light, at Fairmount, and from here there is just one more medium hill plus some smaller ones. Soon you will be riding right alongside the river and falls in Gates Mills Village. Turn right at the stop sign (now you are actually on Old Mill Road), cross the bridge over the river, then immediately turn left back onto Chagrin River Road. (Note: If you turn either left or right on Old Mill Rd. you will encounter a KILLER hill. Unless you enjoy this sort of thing, you will be glad you are staying on Chagrin River Rd.!)
Now you are traveling through the center of Gates Mills, past the post office and village hall on the left and the new library on the right. There is a small arboretum just off to the left before the post office with a nice view of the river—a popular site for fly fishing—which might make a nice rest stop. Rest rooms are available across the street at the library during business hours.
After continuing north on Chagrin River Rd. for a mile or so, you will encounter the traffic light at Mayfield Road, a 4-lane crossing, and then a couple more miles of winding, pretty flat riding past lovely country estates. There are two stop signs with another bridge crossing the river between them at Wilson Mills Road. This one section is where you are likely to encounter the hairiest traffic on this entire route, as Wilson Mills is a well-traveled road. At the second stop sign you will turn left onto a short, uphill section of Wilson Mills Rd., past one home, until you come to a Cleveland Metroparks sign for the Wilson Mills Trailhead on your right. There is a parking lot, and beyond it is Foster’s Run, where the paved all-purpose trail of the North Chagrin Reservation begins. There is no rest room here, but you might want to stop for a moment to rest before tackling Foster’s Run, which is a bit of an uphill climb. After reaching the top, however, the terrain levels off and you can enjoy the remaining 4+ miles of the All-purpose Trail, which take you over a creek, through fields, and many wooded areas of this lovely park.
At the top of Foster’s Run you will be riding on an abandoned, wooded road for a short stretch. This must be a favored habitat for owls, because I often hear them hooting when I travel through this section, even in the middle of the day. When the road opens into a clearing with a parking lot on the right, you will see a sign off to the left for the North Chagrin Nature Center. Here there are rest rooms, nature exhibits and a gift shop; hours of operation are 9:30-5 daily. You also might enjoy watching the ducks, geese and other wildlife at Sanctuary Marsh and Sunset Pond, which surround the nature center.
The All-purpose Trail ends at Rte. 6 (Chardon Road). If the APT is congested with walkers, runners and skaters, I often ride the Buttermilk Falls Parkway, which parallels it. This park is located in Willoughby Hills.
S. Chagrin Reservation - Richmond Rd. to Chagrin River Rd. : 6 miles Chagrin River Rd. from eastern edge of S. Chagrin Res. to Wilson Mills Rd. : 10 miles (Note: The All-purpose Trail skirts the road pretty much all the way through the park, so the mileage should be the same whether riding the paved trail or the road.) The paved trail (or road) mileage through Bedford Reservation, beginning at Alexander Rd. and ending at Richmond Rd. is 7.6 miles long according to the Cleve. Metroparks map. This includes the part of Hawthorn Parkway west of Richmond Rd. It is necessary to take a short jog on a bike trail alongside Richmond Rd. before continuing on Hawthorn Parkway - just about 200 yards I think. Alexander Rd to Station Rd Bridge is 3 miles.
[See 'More Specs' below for additional parking and facility locations provided by Lynda Warner.]
Length: Approx. 70 total miles throughout the park system - width varies from 8-9' with some wider sections
Condition: Varies from Poor to Excellent; Overall - Good
Facilities: In Bedford Reservation there is a porta-potty across from the Scenic Overlook on Gorge Parkway and a restroom further on at Egbert Picnic Area. There is a small building with a restroom with running water and a drinking fountain just before the trail (and Gorge Parkway) reaches Egbert Road. [The trail turns left and follows Egbert, crosses Union St. and Broadway and picks up along Hawthorn Parkway from here.] In South Chagrin Reservation there are restrooms at Harper Ridge and Shadow Lake picnic areas, both off the straight stretch of Hawthorn Parkway. I haven't found any drinking water sources easily accessible through S. Chagrin park. Station Rd Bridge has water & nice restrooms.
Drinking water is also available at the Library in Gates Mills.
Food: The town of Brecksville would probably be the best bet. If you leave the Valley Parkway where it crosses Brecksville Rd. and ride north on Brecksville (Rte. 21) less than a mile (there are sidewalks, too), you will reach the town center where there are restaurants of all types, including MacDonalds, Panera Bread Co., and some local eateries. Also a Heinen's supermarket. To return to the paved bike trail, you could either retrace your ride back to the Brecksville Rd. crossing OR you could turn east on Chippewa Rd. (Rte. 82) right in town; just a few hundred yards from the Brecksville/Chippewa intersection (town center) is an entrance to Brecksville Reservation, where another section of all-purpose (paved) trail will take you east to reconnect with the Valley Parkway section [I also think this might be less hilly than if you had stayed along Valley Parkway]. Stay straight (actually, curving to the left) when you see Valley Parkway, and you will eventually come to Riverview Rd. to cross over to the C.V.N.P.
Chagrin Falls is not far east on Chagrin Blvd. from the Chagrin River Rd. intersection. It has plenty of eateries (including The Popcorn Shop if you want ice cream or a snack, Dave's Cosmic Subs, Yours Truly, Starbucks, Rick's Cafe and a Giant Eagle supermarket). The problem is, you must traverse a killer hill, sometimes with traffic (only 2 lanes with no bike lane) to get to it.
Gates Mills has one very upscale restaurant (Sara's Place) adjacent to the library. If a person was really hungry, I'm sure they would accommodate :)
A snack such as trail mix or chocolate bar can be purchased at the Nature Shop within the North Chagrin Nature Center during operating hours (Wed. - Sat. 10 a.m. - 4:45 p.m., Sun. noon - 4:45 p.m.) Also, there are some restaurants a couple miles north of the metropark on SOM Center Rd. in Willoughby Hills.
Lakewood Rocky-River Mill-Stream Brecksville Bedford S-Chagrin N-Chagrin
62.1mi 50.9mi 42.4mi 31.6mi 21.5mi 13.6mi 0mi