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Rocky River Reservation in Cleveland, Ohio: 3 Things You Won’t Want to Miss

Rocky River Reservation, one of the Cleveland Metroparks, has a great Nature Center, a waterfall and is home to ancient earthworks. It’s worth a visit when you’re in the greater Cleveland area!

Our family spends a lot of time in Cleveland and on Lake Erie! We’ve gone on quite a few Lake Erie vacations and love to explore downtown Cleveland whenever we get the chance! (Make sure to read my list of fun things to do in Cleveland.)

Recently we spent some time at Rocky River Reservation and were impressed with what we experienced!

Where is Rocky River Reservation?

Rocky River Reservation is one of the Cleveland Metroparks and it has a footprint in Cleveland and 7 suburbs including Berea, Brook Park, Fairview Park, Lakewood, North Olmsted, Olmsted Township, and Rocky River.

The heartbeat of the park is – no surprise – Rocky River. The river flows through the entire park and into Lake Erie. Rocky River Reservation is divided into a North area and a South area. The activities mentioned in this post are in Rocky River Reservation South.

What is there for families to do at Rocky River Reservation?

1. Berea Falls Scenic Overlook

  • Address: 136 E. Bagley Rd., Berea, OH 44017
The Berea Falls in Berea, Ohio.

Where is the waterfall at Rocky River Reservation?

There are a surprising number of waterfalls in Ohio and Berea Falls Scenic Overlook is an easy and convenient way to see one of them! The Berea falls are in the very southern tip of Rocky River Reservation so it may be your first or last stop, depending on which direction you’re coming from.

The Berea Falls at the Scenic Overlook in Rocky River Reservation.

The Scenic Overlook is just steps from the parking lot. It’s a small wooden deck that allows you to look over the waterfalls from above.

A boy at the Berea Falls Scenic Overlook at Rocky River Reservation.

The Berea Falls on the Rocky River were formed over eroded shale and can be seen easily from the overlook. This makes for a quick stop since it’s not necessary to hike or take steps to see the waterfalls! Just pull into the parking lot and make your way to the wooden deck!

2. Fort Hill Stairs

  • Address: 24000 Valley Pkwy, North Olmsted, OH 44070
People climbing the Fort Hill Stairs at Rocky River Reservation in Cleveland, Ohio.

Since you got off easy with no hike to the waterfalls, you can get your steps in at the Fort Hill Stairs!

Where are the steps at Rocky River Reservation?

The Fort Hill Stairs at Rocky River Reservation are located behind the Nature Center. You can reach them through one of the side doors of the Nature Center or by simply going around to the right side of the Nature Center if you are facing the building.

How Many Stairs are at Rocky River Reservation?

The Fort Hill Stairs consist of 155 steps! They rise 90 feet above the Rocky River!

Coming down the Fort Hill Stairs in the Cleveland Metroparks.

When we visited, it was clear that the stairs were a popular spot for exercise. We were out of breath just making it to the top, but there were many others who were turning around and doing the steps all over again!

Father and son overlooking the Rocky River on top of the Fort Hill Stairs in the Cleveland Metroparks.

At the top, make sure to read about Fort Hill, earthworks that were most likely created by Native Americans over 2000 years ago. 

A stone marker for the Fort Hill Earthworks at Rocky River Reservation.

There are hiking trails that extend from the top of Fort Hill so you can enjoy the views from the top and then continue on for a further hike. The Fort Hill Loop Trail makes a loop around the hill and back to the steps.

Rocky River Nature Center

  • Address: 24000 Valley Pkwy, North Olmsted, OH 44070

The Nature Center at Rocky River Reservation is really the highlight of this post! It’s free to visit this great Nature Center! Kids will find lots to love and explore inside the Nature Center and visitors of all ages will learn something about Lake Erie and the surrounding region!

Hideaway Hollow

Kids will love to play inside Hideaway Hollow, a nature themed play area inside the Nature Center. It looks like a huge tree and inside kids can discover all kinds of hidden gems!

Hideaway Hollow kids play area at the Rocky River Reservation Nature Center.

Inside there is a wall where kids can peek into windows and observe the natural worlds of woodland creatures!

Inside Hideaway Hollow at the Nature Center.

There is a small tree house area where kids can climb inside and play! There are lots of opportunities for crawling and climbing inside the tree!

A boy climbing through a tunnel in Hideaway Hollow at the Nature Center at Rocky River Reservation.

Educational Displays in the Nature Center

Past Hideaway Hollow and into the rest of the Nature Center, there are educational displays about the kinds of animals you can find in the park.

A boy looking at a live turtle at the Nature Center.

Kids can press a button under the name of each animal and a spotlight will illuminate the animal in the display.

An educational display featuring local animals at the Rocky River Nature Center.

Dunkleosteus: A Preshistoric Fish

Have you heard of Dunkleosteus? This prehistoric fish lived in Lake Erie and weighed more than 1 ton! Fossils of the fish were found when Interstate 71 was created! (See more info here!)

There is a section in the Nature Center at Rocky River Reservation featuring Dunkleosteus that includes a life sized model! (As a side note, there is also a fossil replica of Dunkleosteus at Ohio Statehouse!)

A life size model of Dunkleosteus inside the Nature Center at Rocky River Reservation.

The Nature Shop

The Nature Shop is right inside the doors of the Nature Center, to your right. If you want a souvenir t-shirt, a snack or a cold drink, this is the place!

Father and son inside the Nature Shop at Rocky River Metro Park.

The Nature Center also has a library, a deck and chairs lining large windows with a beautiful view! It’s a great place to spend a morning!

You won’t regret a visit to the Rocky River Reservation just outside of Cleveland, Ohio! Save this post to plan your next Ohio road trip!

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Rocky River Reservation Cleveland Metroparks.