Exploring Nature Trails in Ohio’s Summit County
An introduction to the Akron area Fall Hiking Spree, where hikers enjoy the beautiful scenery of Northeast Ohio and receive awards.
Summit Metro Parks is a Metroparks system serving the citizens of Summit County, Ohio by managing 14,000 acres in 16 developed parks, six conservation areas and more than 150 miles of trails, with 22.4 miles of the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail.
Each fall in Northern Ohio, the Summit County Metroparks sponsors a program to generate interest in hiking and nature trails in the area around Akron. The Fall Hiking Spree entices people of all ages to explore the parks and receive credit for completing eight trails in the most beautiful season in the Buckeye State.
The goal is to complete eight different trails, out of 13 designated trails each year, from September 1st to November 30th. The trails are spread throughout the county. Brochures with the trails identified can be found at the Metroparks website, or at the Naturealm on Smith Road in Akron.
The trails change year, giving participants the opportunity to traverse different areas of the park system. The trails are graded 1 through 3, with type 1 trails paved or fairly flat, type 3 hilly and rigorous, and type 2 in between. The trails generally run between one and 3 miles, and they are circular, returning you to where you started.
Of particular interest to veteran hikers are the Gorge trails, which offer difficult treks over hills and ledges, affording spectacular views of the Cuyahoga River.
Each first-year hiker that completes the eight hikes receives a hiking staff and shield. A veteran hiker completing the hikes receives a shield, to add to the staff. The program has run for over 40 years, and many hikers have shields running up and down the staff.
Award is free for Summit County residents, and only $10 for non-resident first-year hikers, and $5 for non-resident veterans.
Volunteers are sometimes available to verify the hike, but since the hikes can be done any time in these months, completion of the hikes and awards is on the honor system. Awards can be picked until December at the Naturealm. On scheduled days, volunteers will affix the shield to your staff for a small donation.
Most of the trails are on paths through wooded areas. Trails can become muddy and slippery, so appropriate footwear should be worn. The weather does become colder and wetter as the fall progresses, so hikers should consider completing the hikes early in the Spree.
The best viewing of fall foliage is in October when colors are at their peak, and cool dampness invigorates the air. Veteran hikers do continue their walks into November, but care should be exercised.
The goal of the Spree is to introduce everyone to the Metroparks. After the hikes, you will know all the great things they have to offer, from swimming to picnic areas, and you can continue to explore the hiking trails all year.
Summit County Metroparks
975 Treaty Line Rd, Akron, OH 44313
Phone: (330) 867-5511