Bridle TrailsCleveland Metroparks
North Chagrin Reservation
Willoughby Hills, Ohio (Lake County)
There are a number of access points, but a great place to start is Squire's Castle Picnic Area. This parking lot is located on Chagrin River Road in North Chagrin Reservation, south of Chardon Road (Route 6).
Length: 5 Miles
Duration: 5 hours if hiking
Type: Several Loops
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
A winter view of the Bridle Trail just south of Squire's Castle.
The North Chagrin Bridle Trails are loops that total just over 5 miles. The bridle trails are well maintained and provide great hiking as well as equestrian opportunities.
If you start from Squire's Castle and head south, on your left you'll see the oxbow lagoons, a wetland that was formerly the main channel of the Chagrin River. On the right, there is a stone bridge made of cut stones. The area above is a hemlock ridge and the area below is the floodplain of the Chagrin River. The trail is approx 8 ft wide with a nice cap to shed water. It is ditched on either side, so the trail stays nice and firm during wet periods.
The trees lining the trail are Red Oak, Sugar Maple, Hemlock, some American Beech, and an occasional Cucumber Magnolia. Running along Chagrin River Road, in the forest edge, the woods are in a permanent stage of early succession. Golden Rod, Japanese Multiflora Rose, Privet, honeysuckle, Spice Bush, Witch hazel, and other shrubs and wildflowers line the trail.
The trail also passes by a stand of Red Pines near the River Grove picnic area. Red Pines can be identified by bundles of 2 needles, 4 or 5 inches long. If some are available and within reach, twist the needles holding each end trying to make a loop. If they snap, generally they are red pine. If not, they could be Austrian Pine. Just remember "Red Snapper". As you hike or ride along the bridle trails you'll see small pockets of wetlands, including areas with emergent vegetation, like cattails, sedges, wool grass.
You may also notice the invasive plant Lesser Celandine, which is a relative of the Buttercup. It is taking over a vast areas of wetlands in the North Chagrin Reservation and it is visible in some of the small wetlands along this trail. You may also notice young speckled Alder trees along some of these areas.