(Summit Metro Parks) For the safety of our visitors, Summit Metro Parks centers will be closed, and all programs are canceled on Wednesday, January 30 and Thursday, January 31, due to extremely cold temperatures forecasted for those dates. Closed locations include:

  • F.A. Seiberling Nature Realm Visitors Center, 1828 Smith Rd., Akron
  • Liberty Park Nature Center, 9999 Liberty Rd., Twinsburg
  • Summit Lake Nature Center, 390 W. Crosier St., Akron

Sled hills and ice skating ponds will also be closed. All other park areas will remain open. For more information, call 330-867-5511 or visit summitmetroparks.org.

Summit Metro Parks manages more than 14,000 acres, including 16 parks, several conservation areas and more than 150 miles of trails, with 22.4 miles of the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail. Annual attendance averages 5 million visits.

Published in Local

I'm well into my second week of training for the Akron Children's Hospital Akron Marathon Race Series. While I'm nowhere near ready to hit the Blue Line yet, I've already made a few observations:

  • The right pair of shoes helps. Brian Polen, the race director for the Akron Marathon and my running coach, brought me to his store to get fitted for a proper pair of running shoes. At Vertical Runner of Wooster, Brian was able to watch how I walk and recommend shoes that would correct my stride. That said, if you have a pair of athletic shoes already you have all you need to get started. Which brings me to my next point...
  • Just get moving. I had to tell myself that a few times this week. To say the weather this week was less than ideal is an understatement. I've only had one workout so far that didn't involve snow or ice. It's been in the 30s or lower for most of the last week. But if you wear a few layers, the cold isn't so bad. I figure I'll be missing this weather when it's 90 degrees in August.
  • Start slow. Slow and steady might not win the race, but I'm just trying to get to the finish line so I'm fine with that! I have yet to do a workout that actually involves running. Instead, Brian has me doing brisk walks at increasing distances. Despite that, my pace is still getting quicker each time out.
  • We're lucky to be in Akron. I live halfway up a pretty steep hill, so my options for places to run close to home that don't involve a ridiculous climb are a bit limited. Luckily we have the Towpath Trail, the jogging trail in the Sand Run Metro Park, and a bunch of other great places to run in Akron that are not only less hilly, but also absolutely beautiful.

We're less than 200 days away from the Akron Marathon, but that doesn't mean it's too late to get started on your own Blue Line journey! One of the cool things about the Akron Marathon Race Series is that they have different distances at different races throughout the summer, so if a half marathon or a relay leg seems too daunting you can start with something as short as a 1 mile and work your way up from there.

The week ahead: Two more brisk walks at longer distances... hopefully with less snow!

Follow Jasen's journey on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Strava. For more information or to register for the races, go to www.akronmarathon.org.


Published in Jasen Sokol
Monday, 21 August 2017 09:04

Rare Bat Found In Twinsburg

Summit Metro Parks reporting a rare discovery -- a northern long-eared bat discovered in Twinsburg, the first time they've seen the endangered animal in five years. The northern long-eared bat has been hit hard by white nose disease, a fungus that claimed 90% of the bat population. Biologists attached a small transmitter and let her fly back to a colony she shares with brown bats.

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(Summit Metro Parks) Summit Metro Parks biologists captured a rare northern long-eared bat in Twinsburg earlier this month – the first sighting of the species by park staff in five years – and learned that it's living with a different species of winged mammal.

Biologist Marlo Perdicas said the federally endangered bat was found near Liberty Park. Summit Metro Parks manages 3,000 acres of the park that spans northeast Summit and northwest Portage counties. Much of it is in Twinsburg and Twinsburg Township.

"We have not seen a northern long-eared bat since 2012 due to the effects of white-nose syndrome," Perdicas said, referring to a disease that wakes up bats in winter, when there are no insects to consume. The fatal fungus has devastated bat populations across the eastern United States, including Northeast Ohio. "We have about 10 percent of the bats we used to have," Perdicas added.

The northern long-eared bat captured August 10, an adult female, was fitted with a transmitter and tracked back to her roost. "To our surprise, she is roosting with a colony of little brown bats," said Perdicas.

Perdicas explained that sort of grouping is unusual in summer as bats are roosting, but more common during hibernation. Bats hibernate in groups, and summer is coming to a close.

Hibernation for both species begins between September and October and can last as long as May.

The northern long-eared bat's range is the eastern United States and Canada, while the little brown bat's range includes most of North America. Northern long-eared bats, on average, tend to be slightly smaller than little brown bats.

Eight different bat species have been recorded in Summit County: northern long-eared, little brown, Indiana (another federally endangered species), big brown, tri-colored, silver-haired, hoary and red.

Published in Local
Thursday, 18 May 2017 08:59

Don't Get Ticked!

The mild winter is leading to unwanted guests for the spring and summer -- and Metro Parks is among those hoping you don't get too "ticked" off. Naturalists say there's been an explosion of ticks, bringing with 'em pain and even illness from the bites. That includes deer ticks, the American dog tick and the lone star tick found in southern Ohio. Deer ticks are about the size of a sesame seed and love the woods, dog ticks like meadows. If you pick 'em off you with tweezers save 'em -- Metro Parks says that can help doctors if you get sick later.

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(Summit Metro Parks) Summit Metro Parks officials want visitors to be prepared, not ticked off. Ticks are unwelcome guests, and bites from the little arachnids can cause pain and possible illness. “The last couple of mild winters have resulted in a small explosion of ticks in the county,” Summit Metro Parks biologist Rob Curtis said. “One of the best things we can do for the public is make them aware, so they can be prepared.”

Spokesperson Nathan Eppink said the park district is sharing information about ticks on social media, on its website – summitmetroparks.org – and in park kiosks in locations where ticks may be encountered. Ticks can be picked up on low-growing vegetation any time temperatures are above freezing, but they are most active in spring and fall. Ohio has three types of hard-bodied ticks. The most common is the American dog tick, followed by the blacklegged tick, which is often called the deer tick. The lone star tick is generally only found in southern Ohio. Deer ticks, which are black and often have a rust colored crescent, are about the size of a sesame seed, prefer the woods and can be active year-round. Dog ticks are larger, are brown with a light ornamentation or pattern on their backs, and prefer grassy areas like meadows and prairies.

Ticks are blood feeders, meaning they must find a host, take a bite and then drink their meal. They need to feed for at least 24 hours before disease transmission to the host is possible, so the best way to prevent illness is to prevent ticks from even getting on you – and on your dog. Ways to reduce tick encounters include:

-Use a bug spray containing at least 25% DEET.
- Wear a long-sleeve shirt and long pants tucked into your boots or socks.
- Stay on designated trails and avoid brushing up against adjacent vegetation.
- Wear clothing that is light in color so you can easily see and remove ticks. Tumble dry clothing or gear on high heat for an hour to kill any ticks you may have missed.
- Keep pets leashed and on trails during walks. (Leash laws apply in the Metro Parks anyway. The maximum length is 8 feet.)

If you are bitten by a tick, here’s how to safely remove it:

- Using a pair of tweezers, firmly grasp the tick near its head.
- Using even pressure, pull the tick straight out until it is no longer attached. Check the tick to make sure its head came out, too.
- After the tick has been removed, wash the area with soap and water.
- Do not throw the tick away. Place it in a plastic bag, and then put it in the freezer or a container with rubbing alcohol. This way, if you go to the doctor, you can give them the tick that bit you. 


Published in Local
Thursday, 06 October 2016 17:50

Metro Parks Have Former Golf Course

Valley View Golf Club is now officially in the hands of Summit Metro Parks.

The 194-acre property fits between Sand Run Metro Park and the Cascade Valley and Gorge parks.

It'll be the second largest natural area managed by Summit Metro Parks, and it won't be a golf course again.

There's an open house Saturday, and the park district asking for ideas for improvements...while a master plan is developed to bring it to a more natural state.


(Summit Metro Parks, news release) Summit Metro Parks has completed the purchase of Valley View Golf Club in Akron.

The 194-acre property, described as "the missing piece of the puzzle" by spokesperson Nathan Eppink, lies between Sand Run Metro Park and the already contiguous Cascade Valley and Gorge parks. It offers the park district new ways to access the Cuyahoga River and the multipurpose Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail, both of which are near the former golf course's western boundary.

The park district will host an open house on the property (1212 Cuyahoga St., Akron) Sunday, October 16 from noon to 3 p.m. Employees will be on hand to share ideas for possible improvements and amenities, and visitors may walk the property or take brief tours on free wagon rides.

The purchase of Valley View helps form the second largest natural area managed by Summit Metro Parks, at just under 1,700 acres. Only Liberty Park's 3,000 acres in northeast Summit and northwestern Portage counties is larger.

"This was a strategic acquisition, and we couldn't be more excited," executive director Lisa King said of the golf course. "It's within the City of Akron, and we have a lot of ideas about making this a destination for outdoor enthusiasts."

Eppink said biologists and planners will study how to best restore the property to a more native and natural state and then develop a master plan that includes a number of recreational and educational opportunities. The Cascade Valley Metro Park / Valley View Area will be closed during the planning process.

More than 2,000 feet of the Cuyahoga River and 65 acres of floodplain have restoration potential. More than 20,000 feet of a drainage network – including 10 ponds – could be restored to wetland and stream habitats. Initial studies show the property harbors several rare or noteworthy species.

Summit Metro Parks paid $4 million for the golf course. With its purchase, the park district now manages 14,300 acres.

The 27-hole Valley View Golf Club began when Carl Springer purchased an 87-acre farm on Cuyahoga Street – the last dairy farm in Akron – from Ray and Fern Himelright in 1956. The property had been in the Himelright name since the late 1800s.

The park district's first master plan, created by renowned landscape architects the Olmsted Brothers in the 1920s, identified the Valley View property as land worth preserving.

For more information about Summit Metro Parks, call 330-865-8065 or visit summitmetroparks.org.

Published in Local

If you're playing "Pokemon Go" on your phone in the park, don't wander off, and respect the park.

That's the message from Summit Metro Parks, which says some "Pokemon Go" players are leaving trails, and walking atop the 57-foot high Ohio Edison dam and Mary Campbell's Cave in Gorge Metro Parks.

Others have walked into parked equipment, or walked through work areas.

Parks officials say that's risky, they say players should be mindful of what's going on around them.


(Summit Metro Parks, news release) An untold number of visitors to Summit Metro Parks are playing Pokemon Go on their smartphones. Many of the park district's employees are, too.

Now, the employees who "gotta catch 'em all" are asking fellow gamers to be mindful of their surroundings – for the protection of natural resources and for their own personal safety.

In Gorge Metro Park in Cuyahoga Falls, visitors have been seen leaving established trails, walking on top of the 57-foot-high Ohio Edison dam as it spans the Cuyahoga River, and standing on top of Mary Campbell Cave. Spokesperson Nathan Eppink said this puts players at risk.

"The park is rugged to begin with. Add to that people wandering around, navigating difficult off-trail terrain while staring at their phones, and we could have a serious problem," Eppink said.

Chief of Operations Aaron Hockman described the game's influence on distracted walking: "We've had individuals literally walk into parked equipment and walk through work zones, not knowing what's going on around them."

In short, officials are asking users to stay on trails and be smart with their smartphones.

Published in Local
Tuesday, 17 May 2016 17:41

Follow The "Akron Bear"...On Twitter

You've been told a number of times in the past week or so not to follow a wandering bear.

But you can safely follow "The Akron Bear" - on Twitter at @AkronBear.

Helping the bear make it to social media is Nate Eppink and the staff at Summit Metro Parks.

"Well, it's not often you have a bear in your backyard, but there were several sightings," Eppink tells WAKR.net, "and we thought we'd jump on the 'bear bandwagon', so to speak."

The "Akron Bear" has hundreds of Twitter followers so far, but at last check only follows Summit Metro Parks and....the Akron Honey Company, as you might expect.

It follows in the grand social media tradition of the "Bedford Bear", which showed up on Twitter in 2012.

Eppink says bear sighting definitely attract attention, both in real life and online.

Published in Local
Wednesday, 02 March 2016 17:47

MetroParks Pulling Second Shelter

Just under a month after a fire destroyed a pavilion in Sand Run Metro Park, Summit MetroParks says it's taking down another facility.

The open air Wadsworth Shelter was built in 1931 as a federal public works project.

Summit MetroParks says it has some structural problems that will force the parks system to take it down...a sinking fireplace foundation is causing the top of the stone fireplace to lean.

February 4th, a fire destroyed Shady Hollow Pavilion, also in Sand Run Metro Park.

Metro Parks spokesperson says that there are still plenty of facilities to meet demand, and though plans aren't formed yet.

Both Shady Hollow and the Wadsworth Shelter will be rebuilt.

Published in Local