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Emerald Necklace

Cleveland Metroparks surrounding Cleveland OH

The Cleveland Metroparks system includes 19,000 acres of pub­lic land including 100 miles of parkways and 15 “reservations” for recreational activities. The system is called the Emerald Necklace because the lands nearly encircle Cleveland. Most of the reservations have paved all-purpose trails for cycling, walking, jogging, in-line skating, and other activities. The sur­face is fine for wheelchairs, but some of the trails are hilly and some grades are steep.

All of these trails are park trails, running past picnic areas and recreational areas such as ballfields. They also visit nature centers, geologic features, and historic sites. Trail access is not an issue, as the trails are near, often in sight of, roads and parking is abundant near picnic areas.

Seven of the all-purpose trails can be combined with each other and with three nearby trails (Bike & Hike Trail, Old Carriage Trail, and Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath) for longer rides. Two gaps, of 2 and 9 miles, prevent this from being a fully-connected system. However, those gaps are covered by Metroparks parkway roads, which are not too bad for cycling—and the 2-mile gap is scheduled to get a trail.

Emerald Necklace

Location An arc around Cleveland, in Cuyahoga County OH

Trailheads Many picnic areas in the Cleveland Metroparks system

Length, Surface 47 miles of all-purpose trails, paved

Character crowded; urban; shady; hilly

Usage restrictions No horses, no motor vehicles

Amenities Rest rooms, water, bike rental, food, lodging, fishing

Driving time from Pittsburgh (to Bedford) 2 hours 40 minutes northwest

West of the Gap

The portion of the necklace to the west of the 9-mile gap includes 29 miles of all-purpose trail:

Mill Stream Run Reservation all-purpose trail 4.0 miles
West end meets Rocky River Reservation

The east end of the Mill Stream Run reservation trail connects to a road, the Royalton-Brecksville Parkway. This leads, in about 9 miles, to the west end of the southern branch of the Brecksville Reservation.

Big Creek Reservation all-purpose trail 7.5 miles
South end meets Rocky River Reservation

Rocky River Reservation all-purpose trail 17.5 miles
East end meets Mill Stream Run Reservation branch near east end meets Big Creek Reservation

East of the Gap

The portion of the necklace to the east of the 9-mile gap includes 24.5 miles of all-purpose trail, 12.6 miles of connections on other trails, and 2 miles of road.

South Chagrin Reservation all-purpose trail 8.5 miles
West end meets Bedford-Chagrin Parkway

Bedford-Chagrin Parkway (road) 2.0 miles
East end meets South Chagrin Reservation

West end meets Bedford Reservation

Bedford Reservation all-purpose trail 5.3 miles
East end meets Bedford-Chagrin Parkway

South end meets Bike & Hike trail

Bike & Hike Trail to Holzhauer Rd 4.0 miles
North end meets Bedford Reservation

Old Carriage Trail connector on Holzhauer Rd

Old Carriage Trail 0.6 miles
East end meets Bike & Hike Trail at Holzhauer Rd
West end meets Ohio & Erie Towpath in NRA at mile 18.8

Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath in MRA from
Old Carriage Trail to Station Rd Bridge 8.0 miles

Meets Old Carriage Trail at mile 18.8

Meets Brecksville Reservation across river from mile 17.1

Meets Ohio & Erie Canal Reservation at mile 10.75

Ohio & Erie Canal Reservation all-purpose trail 6.2 miles
South end meets Ohio & Erie Towpath in NRA

Brecksville Reservation all-purpose trail 4.5 miles
East end meets Ohio & Erie Cana

The north end of the Ohio and Erie Reservation, the zoo/Brookside Reservations, and the north end of Big Creek Reservation are not far apart. The geography is tantalizing, but we don’t know good routes on the connecting roads.

Cleveland continues to expand their trail system. A bikeway along the Erie lakefront is emerging, and numerous short bike paths dot the city.

Access points

Any good city map of Cleveland will show the locations of the Metroparks reserva­tions. There is no shortage of access to the trails. To get you started, we provide access points to the eastern and western segments.

Vicinity: Directions begin headed west on the Ohio Turnpike approaching Exit 12. To reach this point from Pittsburgh, go west on the PA Turnpike to the state line and continue 60 miles on the Ohio Turnpike.

Alexander Rd trailhead (Bedford Reservation): Take Exit 12 of the Ohio Turnpike headed north on OH8. Go north about 7.5 miles on OH8 to Alexander Rd. Turn left on Alexan­der Rd and go about 2 miles to trailhead parking, just past Dunham Rd.

Albion Rd trailhead (Mill Stream Run and Rocky River Reservations): Take Exit 10 of the Ohio Turn­pike headed south on US42. Go south on US22 about half a mile to Albion Rd. Turn left on Albion Rd and stop at the first convenient picnic area.


Rest rooms, water: At many picnic areas throughout the reservations.

Bike shop, rental: Many in and around Cleveland.

Restaurant, groceries: Refreshment stands in the park. Many other stores near the park.

Camping, simple lodging: Nearby in numerous places.

Swimming, fishing: Swimming at Wallace/Baldwin Lake area in Rocky River Reserva­tion (South). Fishing at Shadow Lake in South Chagrin Reservation, Ranger Lake and Bonnie Park picnic area in Mill Stream Run Reservation, the entire length of Rocky River, Wallace/Baldwin Lake area and Lagoon picnic area in Rocky River Reservation (South), Scenic Park marina and Rockcliff Springs in Rocky River Reservation (North).

Winter sports: Cross-country skiing.

Wheelchair access: Trail are asphalt, but some hills are steep.

Trail organization

Cleveland Metroparks System
4101 Fulton Parkway
Cleveland OH 44144-1923
(216) 351-6300

Maps, guides, other references

A Guide to the Cleveland Metroparks System. Folded map, Cleveland Metroparks System.

Trail Guide Handbook, Cuyahoga Valley Trails Council, 1991.

USGS Topographic Maps: Chagrin Falls, Shaker Heights, Northfield, Broadview Heights, Berea, Lakewood, North Olmstead, Cleveland South.


Text version from 2002 edition. Conditions will have changed; you are responsible for your own safety. Oldest segment check 1/1900.