Autumn is upon us here in Cleveland. Pumpkin beers abound from various breweries across the city, pumpkin patches and apple orchards are in full swing, and places in and around Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP) are at their most beautiful.
Everywhere is bursting with color, and the best way to take in the vibrant leaves of the area is through hiking – making the Summit Metro Parks Fall Hiking Spree an amazing event each fall.
This year marks the 57th annual Fall Hiking Spree for Summit County, the longest and largest continuing event of its kind in the entire country!
If you are searching for things to do outside in the fall around Cleveland, then participating in the Fall Hiking Spree is a must!
Whether you’re an expert hiker or just getting started, this is the ultimate guide to participating in the Summit Metro Parks Fall Hiking Spree.
What is the Summit Metro Parks Fall Hiking Spree?
Each year, Summit County, just south of Cuyahoga County where Cleveland is located, promotes hiking in their Metro Parks by putting on the Fall Hiking Spree from September 1-November 30 each year.
Hikers must sign up and complete 8 hikes from a designated list (which I’ve included below). Each hike is located in a Summit Metro Park, and hikers can choose any of the hikes on the list, including a Hiker’s Choice trail.
If the hiker completes all 8 of the hikes before November 30, they earn a hiker’s staff and shield if it’s their first year. For Fall Hiking Spree veterans, they’ll earn another shield for their staff.
It’s a really fun way to find hiking trails you otherwise may have missed, and is a great way to see the fall foliage. Many hikers take it pretty seriously, and you’ll see veterans sporting their staffs decorated with several shields from past Hiking Spree years.
Also, as Cuyahoga Valley National Park winds its way through Summit County, and a few of the hikes are actually within the park itself!
When is the Fall Hiking Spree?
The Summit Metro Parks Fall Hiking Spree starts on September 1 and runs through November 30, perfect for leaf-peeping season!
How Do You Sign Up for the Fall Hiking Spree?
Signing up for the Fall Hiking Spree is easy! Just head to their page here, downland the form, and complete 8 trails. Once you’ve completed the hikes, you can drop off your form at one of the offices or submit it by mail. Then, you can either pick up your reward or have it mailed to you if you are a veteran hiker of the spree!
Here are the offices to get your reward and submit the form:
F.A. Seiberling Nature Realm Welcome Kiosk
1828 Smith Rd., Akron
Open in September on Tuesdays and Fridays from 9 a.m.-1 p.m., in October on Tuesdays, Fridays, and on 10/3, 10/17, and 10/31 from 11 a.m.-2 p.m., and in November on Tuesdays, Fridays, and 11/1, 11/15, and 11/29 from 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Liberty Park Nature Center
9999 Liberty Rd., Twinsburg
Open in October on 10/10 and 10/24 from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and in November on 11/8 and 11/22 from 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
If you need to mail in your form and already have the hiking staff from a prior year, then send the form and include a self-addressed stamped envelope to:
Administrative Offices, 975 Treaty Line Rd., Akron 44313
How Much Does the Fall Hiking Spree Cost?
It is completely free for residents of Summit County. If you are not a resident of Summit County, then it is $10 for first time hikers of the spree and $5 for veterans.
Hikes on the Summit Metro Parks Fall Hiking Spree
Now that you know all of the small details of the hiking spree, it’s time to get into the fun part: Where can you hike?
There are designated trails that are part of the official Fall Hiking Spree, spanning different Metro Parks throughout Summit County. There’s a nice mix of easy and more strenuous trails, and almost all of them are family-friendly.
All of these hikes can also be done in under an hour, which is great. So if you’re short on time, you can still hike a lot of these within a weekend if you want to.
Here are the included trails this year:
1. Clinton Trailhead South and Back
This trail is on the Towpath located alongside the Ohio & Erie Canal. This part of the canal is part of the National Register of Historic Places with its rich history. Expect beautiful scenery as you walk on this flat trail. The hike is rated as easy and is 2.3 miles long.
2. Seneca Trail
This trail is inside of the F.A. Seiberling Nature Realm. This moderate trail is 1.4 miles long and has some hills to tackle as you pass through woods and prairie. The route is full of beautiful pines as well as gorgeous trees covered in the red, orange, and yellow leaves during this time of year.
3. Redwing Trail
Enjoy the wetland and Tuscarawas River on this easy 1.1-mile hike in the Firestone Metro Park. The loop trail includes a boardwalk over the wetland.
4. Rock Creek Trail
We love hiking in Furnace Run Metro Park, as it’s within Cuyahoga Valley National Park. This easy 1.3-mile trail takes you through a beautiful forest filled with maples and beech tress, which always put on a colorful show in the fall.
5. Piney Woods Trail
Expect several pine trees mixed in with the stunning deciduous trees shedding their leaves. This trail in Goodyear Heights Metro Park is rated as moderate and is 2 miles long.
6. Spring Hollow Trail
For a more strenuous but shorter hike at 1.6 miles, check out this trail located in Hampton Hills Metro Park (also within Cuyahoga Valley National Park). This ever-changing loop trail has some stream crossings, so pack waterproof or water resistant shoes!
7. Bluebird Trail
This sweet little 0.6-mile loop trail has you wander through the meadow at Liberty Park to witness the nature in the area.
8. Meadow Trail
With a meadow, wetland, and woods, this 2-mile loop trail packs a lot into a short and easy hike in Munroe Falls Metro Park. In the late summer and early fall, you’ll find lots of goldenrod in bloom here, covering the meadow in a blanket of yellow.
9. Deer Run Trail
At 1.8 miles, this more strenuous trek has stunning views of the valley and descends to follow the Yellow Creek. It is located in O’Neil Woods Metro Park, which also happens to be inside of Cuyahoga Valley National Park. This trail follows old deer/wildlife trails, and includes hills and several hundred steps.
Pro tip: Follow the trail clockwise so you hit the stairs going down instead of up.
10. Chippewa Trail
This easy 2-mile hike has a cool back story. Located in Silver Creek Metro Park, you’ll see beautiful trees producing stunning fall foliage, but did you know these trees were planted by a local Girl Scout troop years ago?
11. Prairie Trail
Looking for an easy trail full of color? This prairie boasts sunflowers, grasses, and more full of various colors – perfect for a fall hike! Find this 1.6-mile-long trail at Springfield Bog Metro Park.
12. Downy Loop Trail
At 1.2 miles and an easy hike, this place is full of beech and maple trees that are full of color in the fall! Head to Wood Hollow Metro Park follow this trail, which includes some boardwalks and bridges, too.
13. Hiker’s Choice
Last, but not least, is the option to choose your own adventure. The only catch is that it has to be in a Summit Metro Park, and you can only do this option for 1 of the 8 hikes. Luckily, many of these Metro Parks have multiple trails, meaning you can just do another trail after finishing one on this list.
For example, Furnace Run Metro Park has two additional trails like the 1.4-mile Old Mill Trail or the 0.8-mile Daffodil Trail. Goodyear Heights Metro Park also has 2 additional trails: the 1.4-mile Alder Trail and the 1.8-mile Parcours Trail.
Also, there are other Summit Metro Parks not even on this list such as Sand Run Metro Park with several trails, Nimisila Reservoir Metro Park with a lovely trail along the lake, Deep Lock Quarry Metro Park that goes along the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, and more!
Fall Hiking Spree Trailhead Map
Here’s a look at where each trail starts:
Which Trails Should You Choose?
This is entirely up to you! If you are a beginner when it comes to hiking, I recommend sticking to some easier trails at first and then working your way up. If you’re more experienced, then why not check out the more moderate or strenuous trails?
Also, depending on what you’d like to see, such as wetlands, colorful foliage, or creeks, then that will help you decide where to hike.
What to Pack for the Fall Hiking Spree
Most of the hikes are not so technical that a lot of gear is needed. As the hikes take an hour or less to complete, just bring enough water for that time frame and maybe a snack. If you plan to do multiple hikes in a day, a small hiking backpack is perfect for packing some water, snacks, sunscreen, and maybe electrolyte tablets for hot days.
Other than the Spring Hollow Trail where you could get your feet wet, regular tennis shoes, athletic shorts or pants, and an exercise shirt should be just fine for your hike. For the Spring Hollow Trail, perhaps pack some waterproof hiking boots.
Why Participate in the Fall Hiking Spree?
It is an incredible outdoor fall activity to participate in around the Cleveland area! With trails ranging from easy to a bit more strenuous, these hikes are the perfect way to get acquainted with trails in the area (including in Cuyahoga Valley National Park), and enjoy all the fall foliage while doing it!
Plus, the hiking staff and shields are a fun collector’s item that many use throughout the year at CVNP.
If you want more hiking ideas, then check out Cuyahoga County Metro Parks Trail Challenge! Complete 10 of the trails on their list, then you earn a sticker, and if you do 20, then you earn a mug. This lasts all the way until the end of the year.
Would you like to partake in the Summit Metro Parks Fall Hiking Spree?
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Kat is a Cleveland transplant and has lived here for over 5 years. She loves to eat, drink, and explore all across the city, and has made it her personal mission to find the best breweries and pizza in Northeast Ohio. She also runs a couples travel blog and podcast called World Wide Honeymoon.