Let’s go Hiking!

Hello everyone! It’s Lisa Roberts again! This month we are going to talk about one of the best family-friendly ways to enjoy our area, hiking! While the Cleveland Metroparks has been my traditional go-to for this, I’ve discovered that there are a ton of unique trails in the area that are not just located in Cuyahoga county (I think it’s pretty obvious to tell where I grew up).

Hiking has always been a family favorite, plus I’m sure any camper or alumni could tell you about some wild hikes they took during their summers at HMK! So naturally, I figured it would be a good month to discuss this since the weather is (attempting) to get warmer and trails are starting to open again! To break this down, I’m going to discuss some of my favorite places to go, variations you can do to increase the workout difficulty, and websites to look at for details about surrounding paths.

Lisa’s Top Picks:

  1. Hinckley Lake Reservation: My bias for my hometown is showing here, but Hinckley Lake is one of my favorite places to go! Not only can you take an amazing stroll around the lake and see a ton of wildlife, you can also wander on some of the side trails located off the main path and venture though Whipps Ledges!  If you haven’t had the chance to do a little free climbing during a hike, then I would highly suggest you take the family out there as Whipps is one of the best places to experience the thrill of climbing without any heavy climbing equipment (you’ll see what I mean when you get there). The park also offers a boathouse (for boating of course) and snack bar if you’re looking for a quick bite during the hike (or if you need a pick me up for a low BG)!
  2. Chapin Forest Reservation: Located on the East side, this reservation features a variety of different trails and difficulty levels. If you venture over to the Sharon Conglomerate Ledges, be sure to see the Cleveland Skyline and Lake Erie as they are hard to miss on a clear day! If you happen to head out on a nice spring day when it’s snowing (since that happens way too often here), check out the cross country ski rental! I know that isn’t quite hiking, but I figured I would drop that little tip in!
  3. Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail: Operated by the National Park Service, this 20+ mile path is the same path originally used by mules used to tow canal boats! As you walk, you can see some of the former structures and canal locks originally used. What’s neat about this path is the ability to learn history while taking in the natural beauty that Ohio has to offer. There are also numerous stops along the path where visitors can talk to rangers, see exhibits, or get more information. And don’t forget about the Canal’s Train Service! Check out nps.gov/cuva for more details!

Variations:

If you’re looking to add a new twist into your hiking adventures, try some of these variations before you head out. Pending your fitness level, you can increase or decrease the difficulty of a hike pretty easily by making a few small changes. Obviously the more intense you make it, the more calories you’ll burn. But, make sure that you are catering to you! This is all about finding the right balance of pushing yourself, but not to a point where you’ll find yourself or your family exhausted in the middle of the woods.

I Want to Add a Little Heat: Add a backpack and put around 10-15 lbs of gear into it. Water, food, extra clothes, and diabetes supplies usually add up to this amount! It’s the best way to add a little weight while being prepared for the day!

I’m Ready For a Challenge: Add a backpack and aim to add in 20-30 pounds of gear. Things listed above, plus extra clothes, books, or free weights will help add the extra pounds and make walking a little tougher. Obviously some stuff you may add won’t be necessary Items, but this stage is all about adding in extra weight!

I’m Ready To Not Feel My Legs: Take your backpack, add about 30-40 pounds, and head out on the trail. As you walk, stop every 5 or 10 minutes and preform one of the following: squats, lunges, push presses with your bag, strict presses with bag, pushups, etc. Do anywhere from 10 to 30 reps, depending on your fitness level and how much you’re looking to challenge yourself. But the main point of this one is to add in extra reps every so often so your muscles are challenged and pushed just a little bit further!

Websites:

If you are looking for trails near you, the first thing I would tell you is to see what your city offers and/or county. Most cities have hiking paths in them and almost all counties in the area have a Metroparks of some sort! If you’re looking for more details on paths, then check out trekohio.com or alltrails.com . Both offer info on trails in your area and have reviews by fellow hikers.

That’s it for now! Hopefully our weather starts to cooperate and your family can get outside to enjoy some of these awesome spots! If you happen to find a hidden gem in the area, be sure to let me know so we can tell the community about it. Can’t wait to see all our kids hiking on the camp trails this summer!