First Day Hikes are actually part of an initiative by US State Parks, but we didn’t make it to one of Ohio’s State Parks on January 1st… in fact, we didn’t make it out of the house on January 1st. Instead, both my son, P, and I had what we believe was a mild case of food poisoning on the first day of 2021, and were stuck at home, being ill. We did make it out for a second-day “first day” hike on January 2nd, but didn’t want to venture too far from home. Instead of trekking out to one of the Ohio State Parks, we stayed close and visited the Cleveland Metroparks Rocky River Reservation, hiking the trails around the Rocky River Nature Center. These trails include the famous Fort Hill stairs, a set of 155 steps ascending Fort Hill that end in a scenic overlook 90 feet above the Rocky River.
Climbing the stairs at Fort Hill is not for the faint of heart. There used to be a much narrow staircase going up to the overlook, that had slightly fewer steps… the staircase was replaced in 2016, and it’s a more pleasant (but just as strenuous) climb. The stairs are arranged in sets of 20 steps, except for the zig-zag near the very top; there are two landings spaced about one-quarter and one-half of the way up the stairs if you need to take a rest on the way up.
If you don’t want to trek back down the Fort Hill staircase, you can take a slightly more leisurely route down the back of the hill. It’ll drop you on one of the connecting trails that run around the Nature Center property.
There are over 5 miles of trails around the Nature Center (which you can see in the background of the above photo). None of them are very strenuous, but all of them are picturesque! My personal favorite is the Mount Pleasant loop trail, which we didn’t hike today — but which will most likely make it onto the blog at a later date!