Northeast Ohio is a place that doesn't appear at the top of the vacation hot spot lists, but if you have an active route dog, you'll want to consider it. The main attraction is the "shelves", limestone that has worn, eroded and cracked in large quantities of blocks the size of an SUV. Actually, you are walking on the floor of an old seabed that once covered Ohio. Millions of years later, retreating glaciers covered most of the limestone with scraped earth, but some areas were exposed to the mercy of wind and water that have created fanciful rock formations. While you will marvel at the scenic wonder of these shelves, your dog will love to rummage, run and frolic on the top of the rocks. An advantage of visiting the shelves in the summer is that these walks tend to be many degrees cooler than the high temperature published during the day. These are some of the best parks in northeast Ohio to experience shelves:
Nelson-Kennedy Ledges State Park (Garrettsville, SR 282)
You will get directly into this little park. A series of shelves run from north to south for approximately one mile, surrounded by waterfalls at each end. Separate paths run to the top (white and easy), through the front (blue and the best way to see the mossy rocks) and down and through the huge scrambled rocks (red and hard). You can laugh when you see names on the Red Trail like Fat Man & # 39; s Peril, Squeeze and Devil & # 39; s Icebox, but it won't be a laughing matter on the walk when you look at your dog's tail fluttering while looking at a seemingly Impossible passage through the rocks.
Hinckley Reserve (Hinckley, Bellus Road)
Hinckley is famous for the return of vultures, turkey vultures actually, from the south every March 15. Two separate sets of shelves and cliffs are in the park for the exploration of your dog, each of them reached by a path approximately one mile long. A short climb to one of the highest points in northeast Ohio will take you to the base of Whipp & # 39; s Ledges, where your dog can easily climb the 50-foot-high rock cliffs. Maintain control of your dog while crossing the top of the shelves that have transparent and un-directed drops. At the southern end of the reserve are the mossy shelves of Wordens featuring stone sculptures of religious symbols.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park (Peninsula, SR 303)
The highlight of the trail system at Happy Days Visitor Center is a band of 30-foot shelves that extend for most of a mile. The Ledges trail runs through the rock formations that do not require the emblematic crazy passages of some of its cousins in the area, which makes this trail suitable for any level of canine hiker. Straight trails will take your dog to corners and cracks and the top of the shelves. Still, there are drops here to take into account.
Gorge Metro Park (Cuyahoga Falls, Front Street)
The Cuyahoga River Gorge has attracted adventurous hikers since 1882 when it was the site of the High Bridge Glens amusement park. One hundred twenty-five years earlier, the Delaware Indians removed Mary Campbell, 10, from her home on the Pennsylvania border, and took her to a cave in the gorge, becoming the first white girl in America to reach Ohio. The Gorge Trail today is a 1.8 mile circuit whose highlight comes when your dog has to make its way through a maze of ledges of scrambled rocks. The trail signs label this section as "difficult" and a bypass is offered, but there is nothing here that your dog cannot handle. In fact, some stone steps have been cut in the most problematic passages.
The West Woods (Russell Township, SR 87)
These dark forests and protected rock outcrops have spread rumors for a long time. Runaway slaves were hiding here in the underground railway. Civil War soldiers took refuge under the shelves. The smugglers operated illegal stills in the gaps. The destination of a 1.5 mile trail in this Geauga County exhibition park is Ansel Cave, named for an early Massachusetts settler who could have squatted here. This trip is carried out completely under tall and straight woods on compact, wide and leg-friendly stone paths.
South Chagrin Reserve (Chagrin Falls, Hawthorne Parkway)
The Chagrin River that dominates this Cleveland Metropark was designated a scenic state river in 1979. On the east side of the river, the Squirrel Loop trail slides cautiously over the water under the sentries of the rock ledge. This is a walk for calm and well behaved dogs only when steep slopes are not fenced. Across the river, you can see the rock sculptures of Henry Church, a blacksmith and self-taught artist who became famous as a primitive folk artist after his death.