July 2014: Chapin Forest Reservation

Kirtland, Ohio

When this land of glacier-formed ledges and towering forests was threatened with logging after World War II, Frederic H. Chapin purchased 390 acres and turned it over to the the State of Ohio. The park is especially popular during the winter when nordic skiers gather at the Pine Lodge Ski Center to take advantage of the groomed trails, fireplace and amenities. Storms blowing across Lake Erie clip the elevated ledges here and begin dropping the snow for which this part of Northeast Ohio is famous.  

Chapin Forest serves up more than five miles of trails to hike with your dog, mostly on the blue blazes of the Buckeye Trail that follows a serpentine route across the park. The most dramatic scenery under the majestic climax forest are among the ledges and rock outcroppings of Sharon conglomerate but these paths are restricted and open only to guided walks, which are scheduled regularly throughout the year. First time visitors to Chapin Forest will want to take dogs on the 1.5-mile Lucky Stone Loop. Like most of the trails that wind through the mature woods, this wide path is formed from compacted stone and fine gravel and mostly paw-friendly. After a moderate, tongue-wagging climb to the top of the ledges the Lucky Stone rolls merrily along. The highlight comes at a break in the trees where the view on a clear day reaches all the way to Lake Erie and the Cleveland skyline about 18 miles away. There is no finer overlook in Northeast Ohio. There are other half-hour canine hiking loops at either end of the park. You can also take your dog on any combination of small loops off the Buckeye Trail that acts as a spine to the mostly linear trail system. However you craft your dog’s hiking day in Chapin Forest Reservation, you will be in no hurry to leave.  

The Stories In the Stone Trailis a short loop around Quarry Pond that operated in the early 1800s, extracting Berea sandstone. Stone blocks from this quarry were hauled by wagon two miles north to lay the foundation for Kirtland Temple, the first temple built by the Church of Latter Day Saints. Joseph Smith, latter-day prophet and founder of the Mormons, was quarry foreman from 1833 to 1836.

Take Exit 193 from I-90 and head south on SR 306, Chillicothe Road. The main park entrance is on the right at 10090 after crossing Eagle Road. An alternate entrance can be reached by continuing to Chardon Road, making a right and another right on Hobart Road.