North Olmsted, Cuyahoga County
Take Valley Parkway North of Bagley Road to the Rocky River Nature Center. After parking, walk past the nature center to the trail.
A beaver lodge along the entry trail to Rocky River Nature Center.
Length: .5 miles
Duration: 1 hour
Type: Loop Trail-Hiking
Accessibility: The trail is not accessible because of some stairs.
This short trail follows an old channel of the Rocky River. The Channel is now a wetland and pond complex that is home to a great diversity of plants and animals. Contrast the dense groundcover vegetation here with the mose sparse, but still lush vegetation on the Fort Hill Loop Trail. The Fort Hill Trail goes through a dry forest above the river, while this trail traverses moist soils and wetlands. If you do not plan to walk the FOrt Hill Trail, just look at the woods on the uphill side of the trail, and compare it to the woods on the other side of the trail.
The increased moisture along the West Channel Pond Loop Trail allows the bottomland forests to support wetland species such as Lady's-thumb (a non-native plant), Bur Reed, and native Elderberry shrubs. These plants are all adapted to life in a wet environment, where roots are often wet, soil is depleted of oxygen, and flooding is frequent.
A marsh along the trail, showing native loosestrife in the background.
American Beaver in the area tend to help perpetuate these conditions. If you are observant, on the way in to the nature center, you will see a big pile of sticks off to the right of the trail. This pile is really a hollow lodge that the beaver calls home. Beavers are industrious beasts, more akin to engineers than their rodent cousins.
They like to keep areas flooded to provide plenty of habitat for pond lilies and other food plants to grow, as well as to keep the area around their lodges flooded to keep predators at bay. If you visit here in the late evening, it is possible to see a beaver here.
Of note to those of us interested in history is a plaque describing how "bog iron" was made in the area. The sign also points out that rust colored water along the trail is in fact colored by rust that is found in iron deposits in the soil here. Take a moment to read about the bog iron. While you are here hiking this great nature trail, check out the Fort Hill Loop Trail, which is accessible from the Rocky River Nature Center area as well.
Fort Hill Loop Trail
Mount Pleasant Loop Trail
Shepard Lane Trail
Wildlife Management Loop Trail
Cedar Point Loop Trail
Woodland Loop Trail
Lagoon Loop Trail
Rocky River All Purpose Trail