Discover your outdoor winter passion at Lake Metroparks

Lake Metro December
Snowshoe in the Parks is one of Lake Metroparks’ outdoor winter offerings. (Photography: Jim Marquardt)

By Mimi Vanderhaven

“If you let yourself get stuck indoors when Mother Nature brings snow and cold to Northeast Ohio, you’ll be there for a long, long time,” says Brian Davidson, outdoor education manager for Lake Metroparks. “All the weather forecasts are pointing to above-average snow accumulation, so why not bundle up, head out and make the most of it?”

Here is Brian’s list of Top 5 not-to-be-missed outdoor activities.

1. Snowshoe in the Parks
Perfect for any age and ability, if you can walk, you can snowshoe. It’s a delightful way to take in the snowy sights and enjoy a cardio workout, too. Rent snowshoes and poles at Chapin Forest Reservation and Penitentiary Glen Reservation to hit the more than 10 miles of pristine trails.

2. Cross-country Skiing
Lake and Geauga Counties are blessed with some of the best snowfalls in the state. Cross-country trails run through the parks for skiers of all abilities. And for night owls, a mile of trail is lit for nighttime skiing at Chapin Forest. You can rent skis at Chapin Forest’s Pine Lodge Ski Center and use them there or at any other park within Lake Metroparks. It’s open noon to 9 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends and holidays.

3. Viewing the Dunes
The ice dunes along the Lake Erie shoreline are exquisite. These majestic natural formations skirt the lake along lakefront parks. (Hint: They’d make a stunning background for holiday cards.)

4. Sledding in Lake Metroparks
Sledding is the most popular activity at Lake Metroparks. Grab your ride and hit the hills at Chapin Forest, perfect for smaller kids and beginners; Hidden Valley Park, with a small slope, moderate slope and fire ring; Chagrin River Park, with a moderate hill and fire ring; and Riverview Park, with the steepest, most thrilling sledding in the park district, and fire ring.

5. X-plore the Parks
Be an adventurer. Penitentiary Glen offers X-plorer Packs filled with fun, nature-themed games and seasonal activities for the whole family. Sign out a backpack and X-plore the park at your own pace.

With the mission of conserving and preserving the natural resources of Lake County, Lake Metroparks provides more than 3.3 million visitors each year with educational and recreational programs and activities. For more information on winter programs and equipment rental, visit