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These 58 hikes lead through the most interesting metroparks, state parks, nature preserves, and historic small towns of seven neighboring counties surrounding Greater Cleveland.
The hikes range from easy to strenuous and cover a variety of terrain, so there are good choices for every mood and ability. Each hike includes detailed directions, a trail map, and background notes about the many points of interest found along the way.
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Patience Cameron Hoskins has been a hike leader and an active member of the Buckeye Trail Association and the Cleveland Hiking Club for many years.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Portage Lakes State Park
Distance: 3.2 miles Easy
Hiking time: 2 hours
Description: This easy hike is on a flat trail that skirts the shorelines of Turkeyfoot Lake and Latham Bay and crosses several picnic areas. There are many views of the lake from several vantage points along the trail. Since the picnic areas and beach are heavily used in the summer, the park is much quieter in the spring, fall, and winter.
Directions: Take I-77 south to exit 129 for I-277; east on I-277 to Exit 2 for Manchester Rd./Waterloo Rd.; left on Waterloo; right (south) onto Manchester (SR 93) for 4.5 miles; park entrance on the left, just past Vanderhoof Rd.
Parking & restrooms: After entering the park, pass the road to the park office and continue to the first parking lot on the right at the turnoff to Big Oaks Picnic Area. Restrooms are near the parking area.
Portage Lakes State Park, located south of Akron, is on one of the highest points in the state, from which water flows either north to Lake Erie or south to the Ohio River. Boating, swimming, camping, and fishing are the main attractions of this state park, but there are several miles of scenic hiking trails in its developed portion. Because this recreation area contains 2,520 acres of water to 1,000 acres of land, it attracts many kinds of waterfowl, shorebirds, and mammals. At various times you may spot mallards and wood ducks, Canada geese, herons, deer, skunks, raccoons, hawks, owls, and many species of songbirds.
The Portage Lakes are a chain of natural, glacier-formed lakes, of which there are very few in Ohio. Large chunks of ice broke off the glacier, settled into depressions, melted, and formed kettle lakes―the bogs and marshes located here are aged kettle lakes.
Lying on a major watershed divide, the lakes played a key role in the lives of the Indians. From the lakes, which sit near the headwaters of the south-flowing Tuscarawas River, it was only an eight-mile portage to reach the north-flowing Cuyahoga River. This made navigation possible from Lake Erie to the Ohio River with only one relatively short overland portage. Later this area became an important settlers’ trading post and was a rendezvous point for troops during the War of 1812. During the canal era, some of the lakes were modified to serve as reservoirs, supplying water to the canals. Since 1949, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Parks and Recreation, has managed the Portage Lakes area, including maintenance of the boat channels between the lakes. For more information contact the park office: 330-644-2220.
1 Begin the hike by heading southeast through the parking lot to the sign for the Shoreline Trail. Enter the trail to the left of the restroom building.
2 After 0.2 mile reach another parking lot and turn left (east). Continue through the parking lot to the trail entrance at the signpost with a yellow arrow. The path follows the south border of the park through a band of white pines and past backyards of private homes.
3 Continue eastward and at 0.6 mile cross a gas line right-of-way, then a park service road. Although the trail twists and turns, the pathway is distinct.
4 At 1.3 miles bear right and pass through an opening in a fence, then bear left, following the trail marker. Cross an asphalt drive. It leads to Tudor House (Franklin Park Civic Center), a facility used for business meetings and private parties (330-644-1728).
5 Continue straight on the trail, again posted with a yellow arrow. On the left is a huge parking lot used in the summer for visitors to Turkeyfoot Beach.
6 At a T intersection, with the lake directly ahead, turn left (north). (The trail to the right dead-ends at the lake.) Reach Turkeyfoot Beach. Now the trail follows the edge of Turkeyfoot Lake, parallel to a dirt road on the left, and goes out around a point of land.
7 Reach Mosquito Point, the end of the peninsula (2 miles); in the summer, it’s a good place to watch boats on the lake. To the east is Samoa Bay; directly north is a golf course. This peninsula, once an island, was filled in about 40 years ago to provide easy access to the point.
Turn left (west) and follow the opposite side of the peninsula back to the beach.
8 Follow the shoreline to the end of Turkeyfoot Beach and enter the woods at the far northwest end of the beach. Oak trees dominate the woods here and much of the shoreline, points, and knolls around the lakes. Pass a trail on the left that goes to a parking lot; continue straight ahead (north).
As you approach Latham Bay, watch for a sharp left turn where the arrow sign points uphill. (The path ahead goes to the bay and circles uphill.) Turn left at the top of the hill to the parking lot for High Point Picnic Area.
9 Follow the arrow posts to the south end of the parking lot. Continue on the paved road to the trail entrance off the road on the right (2.8 miles). A sign at the trail entrance reads “Emergency and Authorized Vehicles Only.”
At the concrete restroom, stay to the left to follow the trail heading southwest alongside the attractive coves of Latham Bay. At about the 3-mile point, the trail turns left (east) to the road and parking lot.
10 Follow the road past the parking lot on the left. Turn right (south) at the sign for Shoreline Trail. Now the trail is in more open, brushy parts of the shoreline.
11 At the next trail junction the shoreline trail reaches and joins the red-marked Pheasant Run Trail. Turn left, cross the gas line right-of-way, and continue west.
12 The trail takes a sharp right turn, enters a new-growth forest, then crosses a small bridge.
13 At a trail juncture, turn left (south), staying on the yellow Shoreline Trail, which leads to the parking area where the hike began.
[Excerpted from Beyond Cleveland On Foot 2nd Edition, © Patience Cameron Hoskins and Peg Bobel. All rights reserved. Gray & Company, Publishers.]
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