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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 through the Mill Stream Run Reservation.
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.
I know this Trail better than any other in NE Ohio. It’s beautiful. Great hills, long slopes in cool dark woods. Some wildlife and scenic rivers. It’s crowded at times with some who aren’t aware of their surroundings. This can be a challenge. Otherwise, I believe this old school portion of the Emerald Necklace is still a gem.
Picturesque, smooth paving, gorgeous particularly in the early morning. I generally do about 4 miles in and 4 back and it’s fairly level so no huge hills to climb.
All purpose trail that is 13.5 miles one way and 26 miles in total round-trip. Trail is completely paved which makes it good for both road bikes with skinny tires as well as hybrid bikes. Trail is primarily flat, however there are few inclines that can be challenging to climb. Trail borders the Rocky River and goes in/out wooded areas. It can be crowded in certain locations, but in the early morning there aren’t many people on trail. I would definitely recommend this trail for both fitness ride and/or trip for the family.
Just as an update, the entire trail was recently repaved and is in great condition.
I rode this trail during the first week of June 2017. I started this trail as I entered into the Rocky River Reservation when I crossed Bagley Road after having ridden the All-Purpose Trail through the entirety of the Mill Stream Run Reservation. The trail continues to follow the main road through the park -- the Valley Parkway. I would call this trail "The Trail of Bridges," as cross over the Rocky River numerous times and you pass under many others as you follow the Rocky River on its way to Lake Erie.
As you head north you are descending most of the way along this route, and climbing on your return. For the most part the slope is very gradual with just a few short steep climbs on the return trip.
For me, the most disappointing thing about this trail is that it doesn't make it all the way to the shores of Lake Erie. The trail ends at the Emerald Necklace Marina under the Detroit Road Bridge. It appears that from here toward the lake the steep sides of the valley prevent a trail from being developed. There may be a way of reaching the Lake Erie shore if you take the bike route out of the Rocky River Valley either at Rockcliff Drive or at the marina using the Scenic Park Loop Trail. In either case, you're going to have a good climb out of the valley and then you will have to bike along U.S. Highway 20, which I was unwilling to do as I am not familiar with the area, nor the amount of traffic along that route.
The condition of this trail is pretty bad for inline skaters. I've been hoping for years that they would repave it. There is a hill where a part of the path is actually sunken in/missing, totally dangerous. Yes, it is a beautiful path for biking, running and walking, but not for inline skating.
this trail is a true gem. one of the best in northeast ohio for sure
At the Emerald Necklace Marina (south of Detroit Rd) off Valley Parkway, is a nice little restaurant (pizza and excellent sandwiches), called the "Nelly Belly." This location is five (5) minutes away from Lake Erie. The all-purpose trail which starts at the north end of the park system is a wonderful way to get away from the busy-ness that permeates the fabric of one's life.
This Metro Park System -- in and around Cleveland, isn't always appreciated by those of us who have always had it available to enjoy.
Taking this resource for-granted is certainly allowable but is an exceedingly inexperienced response by those who haven't been to other places, where nothing even close to the Metro Park System in Cleveland exists. This resource in Cleveland's Emerald Necklace is at the top of the list -- year in and year out, (nationally). Personally, I have always received this resource as a gift from God and thank Him for it regularly.
R. D. S.
A lot of the trail has been repaired (pot holes) but there is still work that needs to be done on the many bumps from tree roots. I almost took a header off my bike after one particular large bump. A few steep climbs but they are manageable. Many cyclists surprise you as they fly past since they don't call "on your left" as expected! It was over all a nice ride. Plenty of parks and restrooms along the entire route. I rode from the Detroit Road start point to the Bagley Road point and returned, nice day.
I run this trail frequently and always find it peaceful and relaxing. The trail is nicely paved and winds through beautiful forests alongside the scenic Rocky River. The northern end of the trail tends to be more crowded, and sometimes walkers crowd the path, but a gentle "passing on your left" will generally get them to move over and allow easing passing. This is an oasis within a large metropolitan area - truly a gem! The park system is very aptly named "The Emerald Necklace"
My husband and I rode this trail on 9/7/2013. We parked at the Rocky River Reservation and rode the entire length of the trail to Berea. The trail follows the Rocky River - a winding river with scenic views of the gorge as well as the picturesqe forest. We crossed several bridges and passed under several highways. We found the trail users to be kind and courteous to other trail users. There were several places to stop and observe wildlife. We passed several picnic areas and a golf course (be careful through here as you are very close to the fairway and one golf ball came within 25 feet of my bike). This is a very enjoyable trail and deserves a five star rating!
You could not ask for better scenery and trail conditions. The only drawback of this trail are the walkers, who will not stay in their lanes, will not keep their dogs in their lanes, walk 3 and 4 abreast. 2 major hills, I had to ditch on my ride up them because the walkers wouldn't make room for the people coming down the hills.
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