Sunday, November 13, 2011

Chapin Forest Reservation

Shining Club Moss: Huperzia lucidula
Hike Date:  September 25th, 2011

Going home to visit my family for the first time, I also wanted to show Francis around one of my favorite hiking spots.  When I lived at home, I visited Chapin Forest often since it was beautiful and close by.  To give you an unbiased review I will let him tell you about it.  The area has some interesting geology so I'll let you know about that too.

Baby Northern Water Snake found along the trail
Well, as Ann mentioned, Chapin Forest is beautiful.  I enjoyed getting to hike through the habitat and see a bit of the variation when compared to the usual Maryland mixed oak and hardwood forests.  The trail itself offers some hills but no other difficult challenges such as rough, rocky terrain.  Some of the trails are paved, but all are heavily traveled and according to the laws of this park system, you cannot have any off the beaten path adventures.  Sticking to the trails, getting a view of the Cleveland Skyline, and getting a glimpse of Ohio's nature make this park a great place for a nice day hike.   As with most parks with heavy foot traffic the animals are a bit used to seeing people so spotting some white tailed deer, birds, and a few other local amphibians and reptiles along the trail is almost guaranteed.  Overall, it makes for a nice day out, maybe even bring the family along or take the dog out for a nice day adventure!

Cleveland Skyline
When it comes to the trails, there are several options.  Not only are the trails blazed but they are named as well.  If you want to avoid the bikers and horseback riders there are a few trails designated for hikers only.  If you lack a sense of direction and are indifferent to the outdoors but want to learn more, there are guided hikes offered by park rangers in the area as well.  This is not a bad way to learn a little about the area especially if you have a large group out for the day.  There are several access points as well so be sure to plan accordingly.  If you want a quick reward and just want to rush up to the Cleveland skyline view take the Lucky Stone Loop Trail from the East Entrance.  If want to hike for a while most trails, while short, are linked together.

American Bullfrog
American Toad

Sharon Conglomerate of the Chapin Ledges
Chapin Forest is located on Gildersleeve Mountain which is one of the only areas of higher elevation around Cleveland. While the Cleveland skyline is the most popular view, the Chapin Ledges also offer a stunning view.  These ledges can be seen at the beginning and end of the Lucky Stone Loop Trail.  The major rock exposure is Sharon conglomerate, which is made up of a sandstone matrix surrounding quartz pebbles.  This is the rock type that forms the ledges, likely formed by rapid moving water.  Glaciation played a large role in how these rocks look today.  Rocks have been spit apart by this act of weathering creating 30 foot rock faces and even deeper crevasses.  This area is closed to park visitors unless accompanied by a park ranger but can be seen and appreciated from the trail.

Another predominant rock exposure in the park is Berea sandstone.  This rock has been heavily quarried in Ohio, and still is, due to it's ability to resist weathering.   At the first parking lot from the Rt. 306 entrance you will find an old quarry that is now a pond.  Stone quarried from this area was used as the foundation of many local buildings including the Kirtland Temple.

So whether you are into geology or getting your legs moving or enjoy a nice view, this is a great part of the Lake County Metroparks that I encourage anyone to visit.

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