Hinckley Dam rehabilitation to begin this fall

The Cleveland Metroparks has announced it will be rehabilitating the Hinckley Dam in the park district’s Hinckley Reservation beginning in fall of 2023. The dam, which was completed in 1927, created the 87-acre manmade Hinckley Lake that provides recreation and flood protection for the surrounding area for nearly a century.

Over the next several years, the rehabilitation project will improve recreational opportunities at Hinckley Lake, raise the height of the existing earthen dam embankment that stretches across the northern portion of the lake and rehabilitate the 150-foot-wide concrete spillway to meet modern standards and provide improved protection in the event of severe flooding.

“Hinckley Reservation was one of the first land donations we received as a park system which called for the construction of a recreational lake,” said Cleveland Metroparks CEO Brain Zimmerman.”We’re excited to continue on the legacy of our park’s largest inland lake, rehabilitating it in time for its 100th anniversary and ensuring that it can be part of our next century of stewardship.”

Over the last century, the Rocky River has deposited a significant amount of silt in Hinckley Lake, which varies in depths from 2-16 feet. Concurrently with the dam rehabilitation, Cleveland Metroparks will remove excess silt deposits in specific areas of the lake to allow for proper depths for recreation. The removal of the silt follows the recently completed Johnson’s Creek Restoration project, a headwater tributary to the East Branch of the Rock River in Hinckley Reservation that flows into Hinckley Lake. The project, funded in part from the Ohio EPA, restored the stream channel and stream banks and removed barriers that formerly impeded the passage of fish and macro invertebrates.

The lake will remain open throughout the spring and summer of this year including watercraft rentals at the Hinckley Lake Boathouse & Store, swimming at the Hinckley Spillway and the return of the Ledges-to-Lake Adventure Race on Sept. 16.

Following summer activities, the dam rehabilitation will begin Sept. 18 with the temporary draining of Hinckley Lake. The project requires that the lake remain drained until the dam rehabilitation is completed, which is expected by summer of 2026 based on the current schedule and funding. Hinckley Reservation will remain open throughout the project but access to Hinckley Lake will be prohibited once the project commences. Staging for the project will occur at several locations throughout the park, including Buzzard Roost.

The dam rehabilitation, which is expected to cost $8-9 million, is being designed by Michael Baker International, Inc. and will be constructed by The Great Lakes Construction Company. Cleveland Metroparks has also been coordinating with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the United States Army Corp of Engineers throughout the project.

For the latest information on the project and timeline, visit; clevelandmetroparks.com. ∞

Featured Photo: As part of the project, Hinckley Lake will be drained until the project is completed in the summer of 2026. Photo by C. Studor.