Akron Running Trails – Summit Metro Parks
So I’ve been running for a little over a year now. Under peer pressure from the ladies I work with, I started running 5ks and relays which to my surprise turned out to be wildly fun, relaxing, and a good way to work off some of the food and drink you see Collyn and I post about on the regular.
Running is also somewhat addicting, so during the winter months I kept on it at the Y, churning away on the treadmill but now that the weather finally seems springy enough I’ve been opting for outdoor running trails and tracks. And it’s so-much-better.
Circular tracks – meh – while they bring back fun memories of high school track meets, they’re about as exciting as the treadmill. So here are some trails I’ve been exploring in the Akron area, and huge shout-out to the Summit Metro Parks for their kick-ass trail maintenance.
Goodyear Heights Metro Park
Have to admit, I never go to Goodyear Heights and when I found out there was a Metro Park there, I thought it would be small and underwhelming. It’s not that small, and it’s not underwhelming. It’s cute, unexpected and there’s a good run in store with the Parcours trail which is 1.8 miles. The trail is comfortable with a little bit of elevation among the flat areas. You’re in a wooded area too, so there’s a lot to take in. Not a boring trail, that’s for sure.
Goodyear Heights’ park is also perfect for a casual walk or walk-jog. If you’re not into hills or you’re taking a baby stroller, try the Alder Trail which takes you through the woods to the pond (super unexpected!) and is a shorter distance.
Park your car: 2077 Newton St., Akron 44305
Sand Run Metro Park
It’s truly a shame that I just made it to Sand Run for the first time last weekend. There’s a reason it’s one of the most popular parks in the area: it’s gorgeous. Enormous trees, winding trails, waterfalls, tons of wildlife and plants.
You can log 6 miles if you run the entire Parcours trail and back. Park right off of Treaty Line Rd. because there’s a lot of parking for starters, plus when you’re finished there are poles to stretch and restrooms.
Fun fact: everyone who suggests this park for running will totally leave out the fact that it’s hilly as all get out. So, I will be the first person in history to suggest this park while telling you, HILLS, HILLS, HILLS. But it’s fun, and I managed to get a PR on my five miles without dying. I personally wouldn’t want to push a stroller here, but it’s possible!
Park your car: Just a bit past
Firestone Metro Park
Firestone has a quick loop that is 1.6 miles long, the Willow Trail, and has the perfect mix of sun and shade. You may have caught on to this… I love me some sunny running areas.
There’s really no pavement, no gravel just ground with rocks and roots, so watch your step. It’s surrounded by marshy area, loops around a few fields and even circles a small pond. Willow even has a few spots where you can veer off for a steep incline (around Little Turtle Pond) but the rest of the trail has intermediate hills.
If you have something going on at the Portage Lakes, like a happy hour, you can quickly get a run in beforehand. Take the trail twice around for a 5k and you’re done and out. If you’re a family with a stroller or aren’t able to do bumpy grounds, I wouldn’t recommend taking the entire trail as it gets a little primitive at times, take the short walking trail instead.
Park your car: E. Warner Rd., Akron 44319
Cascade Valley Metro Park
There are a few different spots to access Cascade Valley, but my favorite is to park right off of Memorial Parkway at the trail head. (There’s also a dog park you can access from that parking lot.) There’s plenty of parking available, picnic tables, rest facilities and a map to figure out where you’re going. To be honest, I don’t even think this is IN the park, it just runs beside it. None the less, it’s one of my favorites.
From there you can start heading right towards downtown Akron which provides a cool view of the city and you pass the Mustill Store which is a neat piece of Akron history. You can squeeze almost two miles out to Dart Ave. The path is relatively flat with a slow incline, you’ll get the most elevation towards downtown Akron. It’s the Ohio & Erie Canalway path, so it’s very well maintained.
If you turn left, my preferred path, you can get 3 miles before you have the option to continue into Sand Run, or turn back around and bust out a little under 6 miles. Some of the notable spots you’ll pass include Big Bend, Little Cuyahoga River, the Cuyahoga River, Valley View Golf Club and the Scenic Railroad. There are small hills throughout, and has a nice variety of elevations. Nothing that will make you feel as though you may keel over and die.
Overall the scenery is wooded, very shaded with some breaks for sun, and gorgeous any time of year. Just watch out for strollers, bikes (it’s a shared trail) and deer.
Park your car: 499 Memorial Pkwy Akron, OH 44310
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Okay, so this is a national park not a county park, so obviously it’s going to be good. But, I want to make sure people have actually been here and/or plan on it this summer. I wrote about it last fall after we went on a bike ride (yes, yes, do that too!) and encourage you to lace up your shoes and go on a walk or run here. Your choice whether you slather on the SPF or not, the majority of your run will be shaded.
The towpath through the CVNP is great for flat, like really flat running (take a side trail for some hills), taking a baby stroller, or walking. It’s a beautiful, scenic run with a lot of birds, trees, water and bridges/locks. Plus, you can stop at the original Winking Lizard after your run.
Park your car around: 1621 Main St, Peninsula, OH 44264 (The southern portion of the park is just minutes from Sand Run, so if you don’t feel like heading up Rt. 8 to Peninsula, no prob.)