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Should you Visit the Bedford Reservation While at Cuyahoga Valley National Park?

Come on a bike ride with us as we show you the Bedford Reservation adjacent to Cuyahoga Valley National Park near Cleveland Ohio.  The park is a hidden gem for those that don’t live in the area.  But, it's not for everyone.  As you tour with us you’ll learn whether you should visit the Bedford Reservation as part of your adventure to Cuyahoga Valley National Park.  Let’s Get Started! To watch a video version of this blog click here, or continue reading below




Most people when they hear about the park ask 


Why is the Bedford Reservation So Special?


Bedford Reservation, part of the Cleveland Metroparks Emerald Necklace is a great local park used for recreation and relaxation by the many people who live nearby but also used as a habitat for birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians.  The protected space provides a landscape for the habitat of trees, plants, and waterways to thrive.  But, The area is highlighted by its diverse topography, with deep valleys, forested hills, and open meadows. The reservation is traversed by Tinker's Creek, the largest tributary of the Cuyahoga River. Tinker's Creek Gorge, designated a National Natural Landmark in 1967, features dramatic cliffs and waterfalls further increasing its value to the community.  



How do you like the bike ride so far?  We started our ride at the Bedford Reservation Olander Lot off Dunham Road just north of Alexander Road.  As we tour we’ll visit the Bedford Reservation overlook and Bridal Veil Falls.  The elevation change is 128 feet of incline and 135ft of decline based on Google Maps.  The round trip is about a 6 mile ride and took longer than expected.  Plan 2-3 hours for this ride and to see the sights.  You can continue biking further to Great Falls which is another 3 miles with similar hills and elevation changes.  


map of bedford reservation with bike trail meandering from south to northeast through the park.   trailhead marked on the southern border of the park

map from Google Maps


Later we’ll talk about whether pets are allowed in the park but, Let’s get back to the Frequently Asked Questions you should consider by asking


Is there a fee to get into the Bedford reservation?


The Bedford Reservation is free for all to enjoy.  In fact, all of the Cleveland Metroparks, except the zoo, are free for residents and visitors to the Cleveland area.  There are 18 parks around Cleveland that the community calls the Emerald Necklace and was the dream of Land Surveyor William Albert Stinchcomb in the early 1900s.  The name Emerald Necklace is patterned after Boston’s emerald necklace of parks designed by architect Frederick Law Olmsted.  The Emerald is related to the color of the forests and grasslands that make up the park habitat to provide a greenway around the city of Cleveland for all to enjoy.  



Let’s now get back to the recreation of the park and answer 


What can you do in the Bedford Reservation?


The Bedford Reservation is an outdoor sports enthusiasts happy place.  Here you can find trails for every adventure. The reservation offers several miles of trails for hiking and 13 miles of mountain biking, catering to various skill levels. Almost 10 miles of the The Buckeye Trail, a long-distance hiking trail around Ohio, passes through the area.  The trail we are biking today is an All-purpose trail over 7.5 miles long.  But there are also trails for Horseback Riding.  With 14 miles of bridle trails available for horseback riding the Bedford Reservation is a versatile destination for equestrian enthusiasts looking for a day ride.  Equine lovers can bring their own horses and enjoy a day in the saddle.  Later we’ll discuss what you can see on these trails but, 



If you would rather take a slower pace or need a break from the activities, numerous picnic areas are scattered throughout the reservation, equipped with tables, grills, and shelters.  These locations are great for watching the day pass, reading a book, frisbee, and spending time talking with friends.  But there is another way you can spend time talking with friends in the park



Shawnee Hills Golf Course, located within the reservation, provides a challenging course set against the backdrop of the area's natural beauty for your favorite foursome.  The property includes an 18 hole course for serious golfers and a par 3 course to enjoy a short round, or for more casual golfers.  Practice options are available with a driving range, putting greens, and lessons available for a fee.  The Double Bogey Grille offers burgers, wraps, and other casual food for those that need a drink or bite to eat and is open to the general public.  

scorecards from Cleveland Metroparks and map from National Park Service


Let’s transition to another FAQ but first


Every good park blog post needs a dad joke:  What is the hardest thing about learning to ride a bike?  The pavement!


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Ok back to the questions because with all there is to do you may be asking


How big is the Bedford Reservation?  


The Bedford Reservation near Cuyahoga is over 2,200 acres or about 3.4 square miles which is bigger than some rural cities I know.  The landscape has enough room for a golf course, athletic fields, picnic areas, and miles of trails through forest along Tinker’s creek for hiking, biking, horseback riding, jogging, and walking.  


map from Google Maps


But the park isn’t just for humans,

Are Dogs Allowed in Cleveland Metroparks?


Cats and Dogs are allowed in Bedford Reservation and other Cleveland Metroparks.  Cats and dogs are the only pets allowed in the parks and they must be on a leash 8’ or less in length.  As in most parks you must pick up after your pets.  Pet waste, garbage, and other items left in the park can carry diseases that could kill puppies, kittens, fox, coyotes, birds and other wildlife that call the park home.  


If you haven’t looked yet, you may be wondering


Where is the Bedford Reservation Located?


Next to Cuyahoga Valley National park the Bedford Reservation is in a great location just 20 miles from downtown Cleveland using I-77 to Interstate 480.  On the map you will find it adjacent to Cuyahoga Valley National Park on the East side close to the Northern boundary.  This is a great location for the over 1 Million people who visit each year.  


map of greater cleveland with cuyahoga valley south of cleveland and bedford reservation adjacent to the east with a marker showing bedford reservation

map courtesy of google maps.


Do you like learning about parks in this point of view format?  We share all of our adventures in the national parks in this way to give you the best views.  Join today so that when you search your next adventure we show up at the top of your search results.  Ok, back to the park and 


What is there to see in the Bedford Reservation?


Bedford Reservation is home to a variety of plant and animal species, benefiting from the conservation efforts of the Cleveland MetroParks. The rich habitats along Tinker's Creek and within the forests attract many bird species, making it a great spot for bird watchers.  People have recorded heron, osprey, Warblers, Bald Eagle, Orioles and more.  From the overlook you can see across the park above the forest.  The view of the gorge from above includes an elevation change of more than 200 feet down to Tinker’s creek and you can see across the park about 1 mile before the city returns from behind the trees on the other side.  But, if you explore further you could see some of the historical remnants still visible today.  You could see old mill sites and bridges, which tell the story of the area's development.  By the mid-19th century, Tinker's Creek was a hub of industrial activity. Water-powered mills produced flour, lumber, and other goods. 



Coming up later we’ll give you our view of why will want to visit the Bedford Reservation but when planning your trip don’t forget to ask, 


What Gear Should I Take to Enjoy Bedford Reservation?


Due to the size of the reservation and all there is to do you might choose to just drive through the park and take in the main points of interest.  But if you plan to do any biking or hiking you will need to plan ahead.  We exchanged the day packs we usually carry with us for saddlebags.  But, you will want to make sure to carry plenty of water.  If you are biking carry extra tubes, a bike multitool, tire levers and a bike pump.  Bike helmets are essential for any ride, but bumps on the trail and vehicle traffic could cause more serious accidents.  Also while adventuring make sure you have a first aid kit.  Even the smallest hike can have a slip or trip that needs a band aid.  But don’t forget to take snacks, a picnic lunch, and maybe some sweet treats to motivate your brood. 



Here are some examples of what we took on this bike ride and while hiking in Cuyahoga Valley National Park like the Ledges Trail.    


Teton Sports Hydration Pack Video Review: https://youtu.be/KEBrYwp8RQk

Amazon Link: 2021 model https://amzn.to/3SnKcGR


Camelbak Mini M.U.L.E hydration backpack Video Review for younger hikers: https://youtu.be/WbRgZr6C20g


Merrell Moab II Men's Hiking Shoes: https://amzn.to/3Ardw8k


The First Aid Kit we carry: https://amzn.to/3Lcvu2h

Tactical Flashlights: https://amzn.to/3QLY25T


But, 


Should you visit the Bedford Reservation while at Cuyahoga Valley National Park?


There are a few reasons why you would want to leave Cuyahoga Valley National Park for some time in the adjacent Bedford Reservation.  We decided to enjoy Bedford Reservation for biking.  The trails here are paved, well marked, and fun.  The towpath trail can get boring and this ride adds to any biking adventure.  We enjoyed the hills and difficulty, but we can also see people coming here for the mountain biking trails.  We would also recommend coming here to see the waterfalls of Tinker’s Creek.  With few waterfalls in Cuyahoga like Brandywine Falls , Bridal Veil Falls and Great Falls make your trip to the region a waterfall tour.  Other reasons to visit the Bedford reservation is if you enjoy golf and want to add another course to your experience or if you are riding horses and need more trails to conquer.  




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