7 Underrated Day Hikes in Lake County, Ohio / by Sam Schoeniger

For a lot of out-of-towners, Ohio brings to mind things like football, cornfields or maybe the Cuyahoga River (pronounced “Ky-uh-HAUG-uh”). Others might think of endless construction, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, or what awful drivers Ohioans can be. What most people don't think of are the countless beautiful and easily accessible day hikes that Ohio has to offer. 

Old Mans Cave, Nelsons Ledges State Park, and Cuyahoga Valley National Park are just of a few of the beautiful (and popular) places to hike in Ohio. While these parks are perfect for the weekend day-trip, it's not always practical to take the one, two, or three hour drive (depending on where you're coming from) during the week. 

Thankfully Lake Metroparks offers more than 30 parks to choose from. This makes it easy to get outdoors while staying close to home... at least for those living in and around Lake County. For those who enjoy quiet time in nature, the following hikes are generally less populated compared to some of the better known parks in Lake County:

Closed road to Paine Creek - Hell Hollow

Closed road to Paine Creek - Hell Hollow

As you approach Hell Hollow from Leroy Center road, you'll notice the ROAD CLOSED sign before turning right to park. Continue on foot down the old closed road (above) to meet the beautiful Paine Creek. 

1. Hell Hollow - Upstream

Fall 2014

Fall 2014

The possibilities are endless at Hell Hollow. Using the above directions, hiking upstream is just one of the many ways you can go. The reward- a massive C-shaped waterfall- is about a mile upstream (<30 minute hike) from the point where the old road meets the creek.

2. Hell Hollow - Downstream

Spring 2014

Spring 2014

That's right. Hells again. Only this time you won't be using the old closed road. Once you've parked your car, head up the gravel road that runs along the top of the ridge and proceed down all two hundred and sixty something stairs, or as I like to call it, "the original stair-master". To reach this beautiful cascade, head downstream once you've reached Paine Creek. This particular waterfall, a tributary of Paine Creek, is about 1.5 miles from the bottom of the stairs. A 10 foot tall waterfall marks the half way point (find a way down).

 3. Land of a Thousand Waterfalls

Summer 2014

Summer 2014

Try finding Land of a Thousand Waterfalls on Google- you won't. That's because my friends and I named it. Growing up we'd hike this route 8 times a week. This quaint little stream also dumps into Paine Creek, which runs into the Grand River. It can be accessed from Indian Point Park. Simply park your car at the main parking lot and walk upstream along the Creek until you hit the first tributary, then follow it. As you continue up this smaller stream you'll scale several waterfalls that grow larger and larger in size until you reach the end (above)- a great place to read a book, have a picnic, or hold a safety meeting. 

4. Big Creek At Liberty Hollow

Winter 2014

Winter 2014

There are as many parking spaces here as there are words in the name. That's why I like it. Big Creek is small, and the shortest hike on the list. The loop trail might take you 30 minutes to hike. It's a great place to visit when time is of the essence.

5. Chair Factory Falls

Summer 2014

Summer 2014

Chair Factory Falls can be a bit "touristy" as the path to reach it stems from Lake Metropark's popular Greenway Corridor, a nearly 5-mile paved trail connecting Painesville and Concord Township. These falls are a brief .5 mile walk from the parking lot located at the old stone school on Ravenna road. 

6. Baker Road Park

Fall 2014

Fall 2014

A newish addition to the Metroparks, Baker Road Park is a great place for a laid-back hike. Similar to Big Creek, this park offers only a few parking spaces, so it'll never be crowded. You'll find several cascades (including the one above) less than a mile from the parking lot. Whats more, BRP offers riverside TENT CAMPING! You can hike or paddle in, but don't forget to call and make a reservation first.

7. Little Known Falls

Spring 2014 & Brothers

Spring 2014 & Brothers

Little Known Falls is a name I made up. I gave it to this stream because, well, besides my friends, I never see humans back here. I understand the implications of posting it's locale, and hope that by doing so I will meet some cool/interesting people while hiking this summer. 

This little gem can be accessed by parking at Hell Hollow and following the initial instructions listed on the downstream hike. Once you've reached the base of the original stair-master, continue walking down stream until you see the first tributary on the right, then follow it. This hike also provides a number of waterfalls that continue to grow in size as you hike further and further into the enchanted forest. 

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It's funny how the same old path can look so different year after year. Or maybe I'm just seeing the same old path through new eyes. Idk. These hikes are kind of sacred to me, and I enjoyed writing about themI hope you've enjoyed this post!