The Glens Trail, Gorge Metro Park

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On May 13, 2017, between my mother’s birthday and Mother’s Day, the husband and I ventured out on a trail in our area to hike and explore for the first time—and what a discovery!

We could almost claim the Glens Trail of Gorge Metro Park for ourselves on that beautiful spring Saturday. Although the parking lot was packed, few locals seem to realize how the Glens’ beauty matches or exceeds that of the Gorge Trail.

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How could we be ignorant of this treasure so nearby?

The park resides in the city limits of Cuyahoga Falls, our former hometown of seven years and the place where both my parents grew up. Aunts, uncles, and their siblings, my folks, came to know the area well during the 50s and 60s.

Back then, I daresay, the natural beauty of the Gorge was taken for granted. To our predecessors, it was just another close place of recreation in which to pass idle childhood moments. They had no idea how unique this playground was.

Its danger, however, became all too familiar to one family member, who shall remain anonymous. Playing hooky from school one day with a friend, this relative fell nearly 100 feet down into the Gorge. We think it was somewhere along this section of the Cuyahoga River bank, if not on what is now the Glens Trail itself.

The friend thought our family member was dead, but luck, providence, or fate would have it that the landing was mercifully soft, though not far from a treacherous boulder. No major head trauma, no broken bones. A bona fide miracle. Next time, there would be no skipping school at the Gorge—only in much safer places.

Nothing so dramatic but the view accompanied our virgin visit to the trail. Although the going wasn’t easy, we know from experience it was easier than if we had taken the Gorge Trail, which is much more vertical, narrower, and rougher. The Glens Trail is almost 2 miles long, out and back; the return is on the same path.

Looking at the park map before arriving, I had expected a lower elevation, riverbed sort of trail. I think we were both pleasantly surprised by the scenic geology and dense greenery.

The Glens Trail runs parallel to the Cuyahoga River, but the trees made river views rare. With daylight waning, most water we could see was either frothed with white foam, trickling from a pipe atop the opposite bank, or more brown than blue from steady current through a shallow river, with its silty sedimentary bed and some urban contamination.

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Investigating the sediment content online led me to learn more about the geologic history of the area. The main features combine shale, sandstone, and conglomerate rock layers.

Most of northeast Ohio is built on Bedford Shale (most easily eroded) overlain by Berea Sandstone (evident at Glens Trail).

The Sharon Conglomerate came later and is the most erosion resistant of the three layers. The best examples of this occur in parks and trails with the word Ledges in their names.

But I also found this note: The most accessible location to view Mississippian and Pennsylvanian rocks, including the Sharon Conglomerate, is in Gorge Park, part of the Metro Parks, Serving Summit County system.” Source: “Bedrock Beneath” at Green City Blue Lake, The Cleveland Museum of Natural History

With glaciation, erosion, damming, pollution, restoration, and now talk of removing certain dams, the Cuyahoga Valley has undergone many changes over the millennia.

The map: Cuyahoga River

The height and sheer faces of the cliffs are breathtaking, an unexpected feature of the trek that made us slow down and look around more than we might have otherwise.

An orphaned slab made way for a partial cave roof that appears to have been used, perhaps centuries ago, for shelter. A soot stain on the “ceiling” suggests repeated fires.

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Birds were plentiful for an afternoon, due to the secluded, protected nature of the trail. We spotted catbird, sparrows, red-winged blackbirds, robins, cardinals, and Canada goose, among others, along with a kind of swallow I’m still not sure of.

I think I’ve narrowed it down to either a bank swallow or a tree swallow. By name, a cliff or cave swallow would make more sense, as it was perched on rock outside a nest in the cliff crevice, but colorings and territory ruled those out. Bank swallows usually nest in colonies in sandy hillside holes, whereas tree swallows nest singly in trees or cavities.

It may have been a juvenile or female tree swallow orIMG_1684_swallow a bank swallow taking its home where it could. As you can probably see, the picture is blurry, so the starker lines between the tree swallow’s blue-green head cap, back, and wings versus white throat, belly, and under tail may have been smudged more softly together. Really, I was lucky to capture its image at all.

“Angry” bird: Robin flings debris in search of food or nesting material.

There were a few narrow parts where ducking was in order and some uneven ground to manage, including hills, but the views, especially of the rocks on our left going out, were well worth the effort. The drop-off is steep, but it’s steeper on the other side of the river.

From the parking lot up the hill at 1160 Front Street, Cuyahoga Falls, visitors have central access to three major trails at Gorge Metro Park, Summit County, Ohio: Glens, Gorge, and Highbridge.

Next time, we’ll try out the Highbridge Trail. Another moderate path, but almost twice as long as the Glens, it should be manageable with sufficient time. Directly opposite the Gorge Trail along the river, Highbridge goes roughly west. Glens goes roughly east.

Although the Gorge is the rock star of the park, the Glens Trail, wandering away alone, also deserves a second look.


Happy trails to you this summer, wherever you find yourself.

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Backyard Brief: Little White King

The other day, my husband spotted another striking, first-time visitor to our house, a male white-crowned sparrow. One day in rain, the next in sunshine, he stuck to the grass to forage for fallen seed.

According to my slightly outdated North American birds guide, we’re in His Majesty’s winter range. Perhaps he has been dethroned and is migrating northward to a new seat of power. I wonder if he is related to the White King in my Alice novel. Look closely: This fancy little monarch even wears white eyeliner on his lower lids.

He must be French, or maybe Quebecois.

Famous Poets’ Nature Poetry, 1a: “The Sunlight on the Garden”

I would be remiss if I neglected this addendum to my last post‘s “sun spots”: the opening stanza of a cherished poem I once had memorized, “The Sunlight on the Garden” by Irish poet Louis MacNeice.

The sunlight on the garden
Hardens and grows cold,
We cannot cage the minute
Within its nets of gold,
When all is told 
We cannot beg for pardon.

The regular meter, musical rhythm, and patterns of rhyme, as well as the poem’s simplicity and manageable length (24 lines), aid in its successful memorization and recitation. Published in 1938, it is half war poem and half nature poem, but at its heart, it is a nostalgic love song. I hope you’ll read it in its entirety.

In the next post of this nature verse series, I shine a spotlight on two Elizabeth Bishop poems.

Famous Poets’ Nature Poetry, 1: Sun Spots

For this first in a series of posts featuring nature verse by famous poets, I present to you little spots of sunlight, lines of poetry I love that describe the effects of the sun on different scenes and objects.

To celebrate summer and continue the theme from my last post of original sunset photos, here are a few flashes of poetic sunshine. (A slash mark indicates the end of a line.)


From “A Plain Song for Comadre” by Richard Wilbur:

“ . . . sometimes the early sun / shines as she flings the scrub water out, with a crash / of grimy rainbows, and the stained suds flash / Like angel-feathers . . .”

From “The Fish” by Marianne Moore:

“. . . submerged shafts of the / sun, / split like spun / glass, move themselves with spotlight swiftness / into the crevices—”

From “Portrait d’une Femme” by Ezra Pound:

“For all this sea-hoard of deciduous things, / Strange woods half sodden, and new brighter stuff: / In the slow float of differing light and deep . . .”

From “The Sun Underfoot Among the Sundews” by Amy Clampitt:

“But the sun / among the sundews, down there, / is so bright, an underfoot / webwork of carnivorous rubies, / a star-swarm thick as the gnats / they’re set to catch, delectable / double-faced cockleburs, each / hair-tip a sticky mirror / afire with sunlight, a million / of them and again a million, / each mirror a trap set to / unhand unbelieving, . . . // But the sun / underfoot is so dazzling / down there among the sundews, / there is so much light / in the cup that, looking, you start to fall upward.”


Equally dazzling, full versions of these poems are available online and in published collections. If you like any of the excerpts, check out the whole poem!

Or, ICYMI, catch the analyzed sample of Thomas Hardy’s “The Darkling Thrush” I shared a few weeks ago as a prelude to this series.

Samples of my own nature verse on this blog appear in a series of 10 posts I call “Wild Verses: Bits of Nature Poetry.” Here is the last of those.

What are some of your favorite lines of sunny verse?