Location

This beautiful hike is in the northern section of North Olmsted, Ohio, USA, area of the Rocky River Reservation, a Cleveland Metro Park.

Geology

The Rocky River carved its way though shale that formed cliffs on alternating sides, as seen from below on this hike. On days when the water is clear you can wade out on the multi-colored shale river bed. 

Trails

Starting at the nature center you will cover five trails; Bridle, old river trail, Woodland Loop, West Channel Pond Loop, and Fort Hill Loop. The West Channel Pond Loop Begins at the bottom of the stairs of the Fort Hill Loop. 

The West Channel Pond Loop circles the West Channel Pond via a boardwalk and wooded trail. The Bridle trail is flat and mostly smooth along its winding path through the forest.

Old river trail is primitive and not maintained. It is flat with uneven surfaces, fallen trees, ruts, and steep drop-offs along the river. But this is its beauty. Along the way you'll see shale cliffs, waterfalls, and wildflowers. On days it hasn't rained you can see the beautiful shale-lined river bottom.  

Woodland Loop is a short wooded trail leading to the nature center. Stop in the cool shade of the observation deck for a view of the Rocky River. This is a favorite spot for duck watching.  Since you'll end at the nature center stop in for water fountains, exhibits, toilets, and a doggie treat if you have a dog.

Fort Hill Loop trail is behind the nature center and starts with an ascent 90ft (27.4m) up 155 steps. The reward is heart elevating exercise and spectacular views of the East and West Branches of the Rocky River. The trail continues to an earthworks site listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. The site consists of earthen walls and ditches constructed 2000 years ago by Woodland Indians. 

Attributes

  • Length - 6.31 miles/10.15 km
  • Variable surface from smooth and wide to rocky and narrow
  • Wooden steps
  • Level of difficulty is medium
  • Leashed dogs welcome 
  • Family friendly
  • Toilets along route
  • Parking
  • Wildlife
  • Forest
  • Waterfalls
  • Portions are wheelchair friendly 
  • Scenic views
  • Historic
  • Total ascent/descent - 614ft/187m
  • Maximum elevation - 783ft/238.6m
  • Minimum elevation - 643ft/196m

This hike has many places to stop to eat, fish (voted one of the top 150 steelhead fishing spots in the U.S.), wade in the river, or just soak in nature. Click on the Learn More button above to download a guided trail map.