Hit the Trails in Lake County

Situated between Cleveland and Ashtabula, Lake County is a nature-lovers paradise right here in northeast Ohio. For anyone looking to escape the hustle and bustle of NEO’s cities, this is the place.

Parks here offer anything from the beach to hiking trails to pure wilderness! Though I’ve spent the most time in Lake County during the fall (as my photos will show), it’s a year-round destination. I’ll be spending plenty of time there this summer with a few hiking buddies!

Let’s explore some of my favorite Lake County destinations!

Headlands Beach State Park  

Mentor HeadlandsFor anyone who scoffs at the beauty of a beach on the Great Lakes, they need to see the Headlands Beach in Mentor. It’s a mile long, dotted with sand dunes and gently swaying grasses. A lighthouse at the beach’s end is the icing on the cake for this Instagram-worthy destination. If you’re brave enough to go in winter, you’ll probably have the park to yourself!


Hell Hollow Wilderness Area  

Hell Hollow

Hell Hollow 3I have a special place in my heart for Hell Hollow. Even though it sports a scary name, it’s a beautiful park. Once while crossing a stream, I happened to look down and see a cute little rock painted like a lemon! It was part of the Northeast Ohio Rocks phenomenon!

What are the chances I’d cross the stream in that spot and look down at that exact moment?

Hell Hollow 2



Chapin Forest Reservation

Chapin ForestThis park boasts an overlook where visitors can gaze all the way to downtown Cleveland and Lake Erie on a clear day. My favorite seasons to visit are summer and autumn when the trees are at their leafiest and most colorful.


Hach-Otis State Nature Preserve

Hach OtisEnjoy this little-known preserve and get your start bird-watching here! The park is beautiful, but my favorite part isn’t far from the entrance. Just a few steps into the preserve and hikers come upon a cliff looking down at the Chagrin River.


Holden Arboretum


Anyone who hikes often in Lake County would say I’m remiss for not including Holden Arboretum – and they would be right! I’ve not been (yet) but have heard phenomenal reviews. The arboretum is definitely on my list for a sunny weekend this summer!


Other favorites in Lake County include…

Girdled Road Reservation

Girdled Road


Penitentiary Glen Reservation

Penitentiary Glen


Where will you hike next in Lake County? Thankfully, there is no wrong answer to that question!

Ryan Collins
Ryan Collins

Ryan Collins is a writer and traveler. Currently based in Lakewood, he has lived all across Northeast Ohio. A Kent State University alum, today, Ryan works in admission at Baldwin Wallace University. His work has been published by Cleveland Plus, Belt Magazine and in conjunction with Destination Cleveland. Learn more at www.ryanscollins.com.