Create your own adventure with the 2022 Cleveland Metroparks Trail Challenge

The Cleveland Metroparks 2022 Trail Challenge is underway in its fifth year and parks officials want to see people getting out and exploring every inch of the parks system—on natural trails, paved trails, and even water trails.

The challenge, which began Jan. 1, consists of completing either 10 or 20 Metroparks trails by biking, hiking, paddling, running, skating or walking by December 31.

<span class="content-image-text">Wendy Park Connector Trail</span>Wendy Park Connector Trail“The cool thing about the Trail Challenge is it does go all year,” says Metroparks outdoor recreation manager Rachel Nagle. “So, when people find our about it or want to do it, it’s never too late to start the Trail Challenge.”

Participants who complete at least 10 of the trails receive 2022 Trail Challenge stickers, and the first 250 people to complete all 20 of the trails earn a custom, one-of-a-kind 2022 Trail Challenge prize. This year’s prize will be revealed on April 1. Nagle says last year’s prize included a stainless-steel pint glass.

“The ultimate prize is you’re increasing your physical and mental health when you’re out doing the Trail Challenge,” she says. “When you’re out there, you’re in the middle of Cleveland, you’re in the middle of the city—but you’re in a whole other world.”

Nagle says they’ve had young children participate and a 90-year-old woman complete the Challenge. She says 250 people have already registered this year, and last year the Metroparks saw about 1,000 people complete at least one trail, with many participants completing every trail in the Challenge.

The Challenge
There will be a total of 30 trails in the Challenge this year, with 26 trail routes currently listed, and the challenge trails run from less than half a mile up to 11.7 miles, says Nagle. “The Trail Challenge has hikes in every single park,” she says. “There are [routes] on paved all-purpose trails, natural trails, and trails on water. And it’s a year-long challenge so people can go at their own pace.”

Three of the 30 trail routes are not yet revealed—they will be revealed throughout the year—and guests have until December 2022 to complete them. The three new tails will be emailed to registered participants when they are released. The spring trail will be announced on April 1.

One trail in the Challenge is “Guest Choice,” says Nagle, which can be a Metroparks program that involves a hike, ride, paddle, or sail. Guest Choice includes the Metroparks Try-It and Learn-It programs, naturalist hikes, and other activities.

In addition to the programs, there are Trail Challenge events planned throughout the year on one of the 26 designated trails. Guests can count their program participation as completing one of the Guest Choice options. 

“Essentially, these allow guests to complete the designated Trail Challenge routes with a group if they prefer,” says Nagle.

Upcoming Trail Challenge events include a Trail Hike at the Brecksville Nature Center in the Brecksville Reservation on Tuesday, Jan. 18 from 10 a.m. to 11.:30 a.m.; a Garfield Park Gallivant at Garfield Reservation on Saturday, Jan. 22 from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.; a Trail Hike at West Creek Reservation on Tuesday, Jan. 25 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.; and a Hike With Your Honey at Acacia Reservation on Valentine’s Day, Monday, Feb. 14 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Check out the Trail Challenge page for additional events.

<span class="content-image-text">Cleveland Foundation Centennial Trail-North</span>Cleveland Foundation Centennial Trail-NorthTrails for all ages and abilities
Additionally, Nagle says there are plenty of trails—like the Brighton Park Trail at Bradley Woods Reservation—that are accessible for people with mobility issues. “The cool thing about the Trail Challenge is it’s for everybody,” she says. “We’re making them accessible and we’re adding new trails. We want to make sure anyone can do it, no matter what their ability.”

With reservations, parks, beaches, and trails all over Cuyahoga County, Nagle says there’s no reason not to get out and take the Trail Challenge. “It’s a great way for people to get our and explore all the trails in their back yards,” she says, adding that there are horse trails at both North and South Chagrin Reservations, snowshoe rentals at North Chagrin Reservation.

“The Trail Challenge can be your guide to creating you own micro-adventure,” she says. “There are so many opportunities to get out there and explore and try something new.”

Track Erin O’Brien
Former FreshWater writer Erin O’Brien is an avid hiker and explorer, and she’s no stranger to the Metroparks. She has accepted this year’s Trail Challenge from the Metroparks.

O’Brien says she’s committed to completing 10 of the challenges in 2022 and will regularly update FreshWater readers with her experiences and observations.

“I can't wait to tackle the Metroparks 2022 Trail Challenge and share my adventures with readers as I explore some new trails and revisit a few favorites,” says O’Brien. “Get ready for quirky details, historical tidbits, and sweeping overviews as I trek across the park system's glittering Emerald Necklace.”

Karin Connelly Rice
Karin Connelly Rice

About the Author: Karin Connelly Rice

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 20 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.