Stephanie Walton, Chief of Marketing & Communications

Valley View on a late summer evening

In the heart of Akron lies a hidden oasis. Although it’s only a short drive from the city center, once you arrive at the 200-acre Valley View Area, you’ll find yourself transported to a land that feels miles away from civilization.

“Special” is the word most visitors use to describe this property, and this fall, you can experience this unique Summit County treasure for yourself. Beginning in September, Summit Metro Parks is opening a temporary “Celebration Trail” to mark SMP’s centennial year and invite visitors to explore the site’s rich natural and cultural history as the park district continues to develop recreational amenities.

Megan Shaeffer, Ph.D., Cultural Resource Coordinator

Lynn Metzger

Summit Metro Parks is unique in that it is the only county-level park district in Ohio with its own cultural resources staff. These staff members protect and conserve the historic and archaeological sites within the park district — work which would not have been possible without the efforts of Dr. Lynn Metzger.

Mike Johnson, Chief of Conservation

The river that burned is the river that’s turned…

In the 100 years Summit Metro Parks has been in existence, the local fishing experience has undergone drastic transformations.

In the 1970s, an angler wading in much of the Cuyahoga River would more likely catch cholera than fish. Decades of industrial and municipal pollution left the Cuyahoga struggling for its very life. One study found almost no fish living in the stretch of river from Akron to Cleveland.

Thanks to the Clean Water Act and the hard work of many agencies and environmental leaders, our Cuyahoga has made a near full recovery. Water that was…

Stephanie Walton, Chief of Marketing & Communications

Paul and Christine Schweigert met at Firestone Metro Park.

Life is full of meaningful moments. With 100 years of history, how many memories have been created right here in your Summit Metro Parks?

For many residents, those priceless recollections include visits to the parks with their families. When her four now-grown children were small, Sujata Patel remembers visits to Silver Creek Metro Park in Norton for “hiking, exploring, looking for fish in the ponds, picnics at the picnic tables and in the lawn by the boathouse, and hours of discovering various parts of nature. When I homeschooled, we would go to Pheasant Run and run the loop several times. …

A look back at March 2020 to June 2021

Photo by Rob Blair

It’s been a unique and challenging year, and while we’ve seen more of you than ever in the parks and on our spree trails, we are thrilled to finally be able to welcome you back into our facilities. As always, our thoughts are with those who lost loved ones to the pandemic, and we are eternally grateful for the support from our community that allowed us to keep parks and trails safely open, continue to provide nature-based programming and launch our centennial year.

In case you missed it, here are some of the projects we completed and ways we stayed connected with Summit County residents from March 2020 to June 2021:

  1. Record visitation and spree participation In 2020, SMP saw a 20 percent increase in visitation compared to recent years, equating to an additional one million visits to our parks! Camping was particularly popular, with reservations up by 23 percent at Nimisila Reservoir Metro Park. At17,000 finishers, participation in the Fall Hiking Spree also reached an all-time high.

Joe Malmisur, Interpretive Naturalist

stock image

When the first Europeans began to settle what is now known as Ohio, forests covered roughly 95 percent of the land.

However, by 1910 forests covered only 10 percent of our state. With the forest habitat gone, so too went the black bear. The last of these original Ohio black bears was killed in 1881.

Today, these amazing mammals have returned. Though small in number, they can be found roaming through Summit County from time to time. Their homecoming was made possible by the foresight of visionaries in natural resources management and efforts by the Summit Metro Parks conservation department to plant trees and connect green spaces in places like Liberty Park in Twinsburg. If you’re lucky…

Mike Johnson, Chief of Conservation

SMP Watershed Specialist Elaine Marsh

Elaine Marsh is currently serving as the park district’s watershed specialist and is a warrior for clean water, air and land. Elaine has worked tirelessly over her career to improve the rivers, streams and wetlands of our region.

Elaine co-founded Friends of the Crooked River, a nonprofit dedicated to good stewardship of our water resources. Prior to joining Summit Metro Parks, she has held leadership roles with Ohio Greenways and Cleveland Waterfront Coalition.

Chris Chaney, Park Biologist

The park district’s pine tree saplings at Everett Rd. Nursery, June 1928

As we celebrate the park district’s centennial anniversary this year, we are also marking 100 years of conservation, preservation and connecting people to nature in Summit County.

Christy Counterman, Marketing Assistant & Janean Kazimir, Interpretive Naturalist

Girl Scout Tree Planting Festival on April 30, 1966 at Virginia Kendall Park

Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts have had a long history alongside Summit Metro Parks. Even before the park district was founded, Boy Scouts were camping at what is now Gorge Metro Park in a cabin they built dubbed “Old Slabsides.” Our mutual friendship has flourished ever since, officially beginning in the 1920s when the Girl Scouts hosted tree plantings at Sand Run and Goodyear Heights Metro Parks. Over the years, Scouts have recreated in our parks as well as volunteered time and talent to grow them into what they are today, thus inspiring new generations of caretakers for our “Green Islands.”

Girl Scouts

Megan Shaeffer, Ph.D., Cultural Resource Coordinator

F.A. Seiberling Nature Realm was dedicated in 1966.

Many people know Franklin Augustus Seiberling as one of the co-founders of Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company. F.A., along with his brother Charles, opened the first factory in Akron in 1898 and his innovations and patents helped the company fuel tremendous economic growth in Northeast Ohio in the early twentieth century.

Summit Metro Parks

Summit Metro Parks manages 14,000 acres, 16 parks and more than 150 miles of trails. Find more at

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