The Overlook TrailCleveland Metroparks
North Chagrin Reservation
Mayfield Heights, Ohio (Cuyahoga County)
From Interstate 90, head south on State Route 91 (SOM Center Road). After crossing State Route 6, North Chagrin Reservation is accessible at Strawberry Lane, on the east side of Route 91. Take Strawberry Lane until it ends at Buttermilk Falls Parkway. Head South (right) on Buttermilk Falls Parkway and take it until it dead ends at Forest Picnic Area. From here, follow the Sylvan Loop Trail nearly all the way in a counterclockwise fashion, or just take the left fork when the trail splits and it will lead you shortly to the beginning of the Overlook Trail on your left.
Length: 0.4 mile.
Duration: 1 hour
Type: in and back
A friendly black-capped chickadee visiting with a naturalist at the overlook.
The Overlook Trail goes into the core of the Arthur B. Williams Woods which has been designated as a National Natural Landmark. This is where famous naturalist A.B. Williams first studied the dynamics of the Beech-Maple forest. From the ending leg of the Scenic Loop trail, turn right to access the Overlook trail.
The trailside museum opened on July 4, 1931 at the place where the Overlook trail now begins. It was one of the first of its kind in the US, small and had exhibits on local natural history and a meeting place for hikes. The building burned in 1987 due to lightning strike.
About 150 feet into the trail, you will come to a set of wooden stairs down into the ravine and back up the other side. The small tributary flowing between the stairs is a feeder stream to the Chagrin River, which is one of the cleanest rivers in northeast Ohio. These small streams are the lifeblood of the rivers and ultimately help determine the quality of the water in Lake Erie.
About a tenth of a mile in on the Overlook trail, you'll cross the Buckeye trail and the North Chagrin Bridle Trail. Most of the young pole size trees in this forest are Beech and Sugar Maple. The canopy is dominated by American Beech and a mixture of White Oak, Sugar Maple and an occasional Ash. At about the 900 foot mark on the trail, a monumental Red Oak with a diameter of over 4 feet stands as a sentinel to the deeper forest that lies ahead. This section from that large oak on becomes more dominated with old Black and Red Oaks. But a growing component of large Beech trees predicts that one hundred years from now, this will probably be a more Beech dominated forest.
At the end of trail is a small wooden overlook shelter with a cut stone base, built in the 1930's by the Works Progress Administration. Two half log benches provide a welcome respite for the weary hiker along with a spot to look down over the Chagrin River valley and out to the other side. This overlook is known for its friendly chickadees, which, due to a long history of feeding, are likely to get very close to folks sitting on the benches. In addition to these gregarious chickadees, you may also see Red-breasted Nuthatches, White-breasted Nuthatches, and Tufted Titmice along the trail.