Nature Sites, Parks & Trails in Northeast Ohio
The Portage County area contains many beautiful natural spots worth building a road trip around. If you’re into hiking, biking, fishing, horses, dog walking, or bird-watching, you need to pick one of the many parks in Streetsboro or nearby and take off. For an hour or a weekend, Portage County has many ways to get away from the city and enjoy the natural splendor of Northeast Ohio. Whether you’re into working up a sweat on a trail or sitting and watching the wildlife go by, there’s a new favorite place for you here.
Seneca Ponds Park
Your first stop on your natural tour of the Portage County area can easily be Seneca Ponds, just a couple miles west of Streetsboro. It’s nothing rugged, but it’s a quick way to get away from the city while still minutes away. This 48-acre property is at 515 Mondial Parkway in Streetsboro. You’ll find about a mile of nature trails with some boardwalks circling the ponds. The surface is smooth, and the elevation gain is modest.
You can take a hand-carried boat, but no horses, bikes, motor vehicles, or swimming, please. Fishing is catch and release only. Seneca Ponds is home to crappie, bluegill, and bass.
It’s a favorite spot for wildlife watchers. The park’s many benches provide views of ducks, beavers, great blue herons, frogs, dragonflies, and more. It’s a great way to quickly dip into nature when you only have an hour or two.
Tinkers Creek State Park
Suppose you’re looking for a longer hike, journey a few miles north to Tinkers Creek State Park. This 355-acre park at 10303 Aurora Hudson Road, Streetsboro, features a 2.3-mile out and back trail over one of the county’s many unique wetlands. They were formed by glaciers tens of thousands of years ago. The glaciers dotted the landscape with boulders, circular hills, and serpentine mounds of sand. They carved the valleys and crafted the landscape. Vast blocks of glacial ice created kettle lakes and many sediment-filled bogs.
These wetlands host a vast range of waterfowl, especially in the spring and fall migration seasons. You can find eagles, heron, snipe, woodcock, and more shorebirds, along with many migrating ducks and geese. The beavers are always busy. You’re welcome to fish and bring a hand-carried boat. You might hook bass, bluegill, crappie, or carp.
Tinkers Creek is also home to an archery range, so practice your aim. Bring your lunch, bring your dog, and relax at one of the picnic tables.
Just north of Tinkers Creek, the landscape quickly gets more dramatic, and you’ll find one of the best places to hike in Portage County. Located at 9999 Liberty Road in Twinsburg, the Twinsburg Ledges nature park includes a 1.4-mile trail loop that climbs into rock formations, caves, and cliffs that increase steepness and magnificence. Some of the caves are home to protected bats, but some you may explore. A side trail takes you to Glacier Cave, which is the park’s jewel.
The flora includes a great diversity of wildflowers and a nearly tropical lushness. The ledges themselves are alive with ferns, mosses, and lichens. Beyond the cliffs, you’ll wind past the pond on your way to the beginning. It’s a more significant challenge than the other two trails, and the path can be sloppy, so bring proper footwear and a little extra energy.
Portage Lakes State Park
Hitch up a boat and head about two dozen miles south of Streetsboro to the Portage Lakes State Park. The 411-acre park, located at 5031 Manchester Road in Akron, includes eight lakes and a universe of activities. The lakes are generally no wake, except for Turkeyfoot Lake and East Reservoir that are sometimes open for skiing and sailing. Check the schedule on the website for the correct times.
You can motor over to Latham Bay, which features a boat camping area. The lakes host many panfish, catfish, bullhead, carp, and largemouth bass. A platform on the North Reservoir provides access for anglers in wheelchairs. You’ll also find an 18-hole disc golf course, an archery range, and a dog park.
Are you looking for more mileage? Just east of Streetsboro, the Headwaters Trail is 8.6 miles of path for everyone. It’s open for hiking, biking, horses, and snowshoeing when the season is right. Take your dog, but please keep him on a leash. You can park at either Garrettsville Village Park or Mantua Village Park.
At the west end of the trail is the CA Tummonds State Nature Preserve, featuring a sphagnum bog, mature beech trees, and a hefty dose of tranquility. As you cross the Cuyahoga River, you’ll encounter two more nature preserves before winding along Eagle Creek.
Are you a bird-watcher? Berlin Lake, which was formed by damming the Mahoning River, swells to 5,500 acres in the spring. The lake loses about a foot in depth per month as summer roasts away. This exposes up to 1,900 acres of mudflats, which are a banquet for local and migrating birds. The variety of shorebirds here is said to rival Lake Erie. You’ll find all sorts of plovers, sandpipers, woodcocks, and more.
Parking can be tricky. We suggest you park at the west end of the bridge, then stroll south along the west shoreline. As always, tread lightly and leave your surroundings as you found them.
Equip Your Vehicle For The Outdoors With Accessories
Do you realize you might need a trailer hitch, bike rack, or weatherproof floor mats? You need the right gear to explore Portage County natural sites. We’re happy to help you outfit your VW at our Parts and Accessories Department. Get the right parts built just for your vehicle, and you’ll be set to investigate all the natural beauty of Portage County.