After starting our morning in the national park, my hiking buddy and I agreed to explore a trail in a different part of the Cuyahoga Valley. Heading south, we drove to Gorge Metro Park, one of the Summit Metro Parks we had previously visited for an SMP Hiking Spree hike.
By the time we arrived (around 11 AM), the sun shone brightly in the clear blue sky, and the parking lot was filling up quickly as many other people obviously had the same idea we had for enjoying such a beautiful day. The temps had already climbed to around 60, so both my friend and I shed our jackets before hitting the trail. (Yes, hiking in shirt sleeves in mid-February. In Ohio. Not normal!)
We had decided to explore the Glen trail, heading across Front Street and east along the Cuyahoga River, and we quickly found ourselves alone on the path. Clearly, everyone else wanted to head for the dam, the falls, and the rapids downstream. Fine by us! With sandstone ledges and cliffs on one side of us, absorbing and radiating the sun’s heat, and the shimmering river below us on the other side, reflecting the sunlight, we worked up a sweat pretty quickly as we walked.
Though this trail did not have the truly challenging “primitive” conditions we had found on the Gorge trail in the fall, we still had to watch out for uneven footing, due to tree roots or rocks or erosion, as well as narrower sections of trail that had been damaged by rock slides. In a few spots, we had steps or footbridges to aid our passage, but on the whole I relied a good deal on my hiking poles to keep me balanced as I walked.
I had really enjoyed the surprises found on the Gorge trail: caves, stairs leading up narrow gaps between rocks, and the sheer abundance of beauty in the ledges. But the Glen trail had its own delights. Among the many intriguing rock formations, we found one “cave” where rain or melt water dripping through the layers of sandstone had created a milky pool that, with the help of bright sunlight, provided dazzling reflections dancing across the rocks above it. Between the play of light and the musical dripping of water off the stone, it gave this part of the ledges an enchanted faerie-pool sort of atmosphere.
Instead of creating a loop, this trail merely headed out along the river and back for a total of about 1.8 miles. Once we reached the far end, we found a large sun-warmed rock where we could sit and enjoy another snack break before heading back.
On our return, we encountered far more people choosing this trail over the other two in the park, and I can’t say I blame them. I’m thrilled we chose to explore it, too, and I hope we’ll visit again soon.