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The Rocky River Reservation All Purpose Trail parallels Valley Parkway through several western suburbs of Cleveland, but this is no traditional suburban side path. Instead, the winding trail through the Rocky River Reservation contributes spectacular views, dozens of trailside spots to relax or play, and the perfect shade for a hot summer trail trek. Like many of the trails within Cleveland’s impressive Metroparks system, this trail is located close to Ohio’s second-largest city, making it immensely popular with both commuters and recreational users every day of the week.
Begin your journey in Berea at the intersection of West Bagley Road and Valley Parkway, where a trailhead accommodates a handful of vehicles. Be sure to head north from this point; the route that heads south—also worth a trip—moves farther away from Cleveland first along the Mill Stream Run Reservation for 9 miles and then for another 12.4 miles along the Brecksville Reservation All Purpose Trail.
After a brief descent, the trail enters the river valley floor, where it remains until it makes a quick ascent to the street network in Lakewood at the opposite endpoint. Shade quickly envelops the path, and it is easy to forget about the nearby road as you enjoy the scenery. The only interruption along this stretch is the frequent roar of low-flying planes as they make their way into and out of Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, whose runway is out of sight due to the dense tree cover.
Those accustomed to trails lacking amenities will be shocked by the number of small parking lots, picnic areas, and recreational fields encountered along the way. The park does its best to accommodate all users, as evidenced by the parallel bridle path that gives horses and their riders a separate winding experience, though it ends near Puritas Avenue, a couple miles south of the main path’s northern endpoint. In fact, the trail’s only fault may be that it’s too skinny to comfortably accommodate the horde of users who want to enjoy it every day.
Be sure to keep your eyes on the path to avoid running into other trail users, but pause to admire the steep shale cliffs in the near distance, as well as closer views of the Rocky River below, near the trail’s northern end. Upon the final approach to Detroit Road, you’ll encounter a short, steep climb before you emerge on the edge of Lakewood’s charming downtown.
To reach the southern trailhead in Berea, take I-71 to Exit 235, and head west on Bagley Road. Travel 1.9 miles to Valley Pkwy., and turn left. A small parking lot is located on the left shortly after the intersection. Be sure to turn left onto the trail from the parking lot to access the All Purpose Trail; a right will take you onto a trail through the Mill Stream Run Reservation.
To access any of several other parking lots throughout the Rocky River Reservation, follow the same directions above, but instead of turning left onto Valley Pkwy., turn right onto Barrett Road. After 0.3 mile, bear right onto Valley Pkwy. The trail closely follows the road, so park at any parking lot you see and hop right on the path to begin your journey.
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