Local trail riding options abound in and around Richfield

by Dan Holland

With a plethora of bridle trail options in and around the Richfield area, trail riding has become a popular pastime for residents over the decades.

Popular public areas for trail riding include Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Richfield Heritage Preserve, Brecksville Reservation, Bedford Reservation and Hinckley Reservation in the Cleveland Metroparks, and Silver Creek Park, a Summit Metro Park.

More than 30 miles of bridle-hiking trails available on six trails within CVNP vary from less than one mile in length up to 11.4 miles. Trails include Butler, Langes Run, Riding Run, Tabletop, Wetmore and Valley – the latter of which includes portions of the 1,400-mile-long Buckeye Trail. Many of the trails can be combined for longer rides, including bridle trails in Brecksville and Bedford reservations and Summit Metro parks, which border the national park.

The trails in the CVNP saw many improvements following the creation of a grant fund in 2022 by Ray and Jan Dalton of Hudson. They provided $200,000 in seed money to make improvements to the Perkins and Rising Run trails in Richfield, and the Valley Bridle Trail.

Hoffman lauded the Summit and Medina chapters of the Ohio Horseman’s Council in particular for the volunteer hours their members have invested into these projects. 

“They are out there with shovels and pickaxes, helping remove roots and building those turnpikes,” Hoffman said.

Parking for horse trailers at CVNP can be accommodated with large pull-through spaces at the Station Road Bridge Trailhead. Other access points include the Wetmore Trailhead and Everett Covered Bridge Trailhead.

Bridle trails within Hinckley Reservation can be accessed via the Hinckley Hills Trailhead on Hinckley Hills Road. The Bridle, Carriage, Horseshoe and Soybean trails weave a network through the park, which also includes sections of the Buckeye Trail.

A four-mile bridle trail loop, which takes an estimated 90 minutes to complete, is available within Richfield Heritage Preserve. Horse trailer parking is available at the Summer Barn, which can be accessed via a gated entrance at 4225 Oviatt Rd. Riders should call 330-888-0511 for the gate code.

Silver Creek Park offers two bridle trail areas: the 3.4-mile Norton Loop and the 3.25-mile Wadsworth Loop.

In all park areas, horseback riding is permitted only on designated bridle trails.

A number of groups, including the Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park and various chapters of the Ohio Horseman’s Council raise funding each year to maintain and improve bridle trails within area parks.

“It provides an opportunity for people to get outdoors either on horseback or as a hiker,” commented Sheryl Hoffman, leadership giving director for the Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park. “It’s so important for people to be able to access the outdoors, and the Trails Now Fund helps to ensure that the trails are safe. That’s why we raise funds for the bridle-hiking trails in CVNP.”

“The Ohio Horseman’s Council for both the Medina and Summit County chapters come out and volunteer their time,” she added. “They not only use the trails themselves, but they put in a lot of volunteer effort and time in working to maintain the trails.”

Cythnia McWilliams, who owns land that spans the border of Richfield and Hinckley townships, was involved in initial efforts, along with Granger Township resident Molly Eastwood, to bring an equestrian parking lot and bridle trail system into Richfield Heritage Preserve – the site of a former Girl Scouts camp.

“We approached the RJRD and said we would provide the funds and labor for trail improvements,” McWilliams explained. “There was a group of us – we are former fox hunters on the Firestone property in Bath – and they initially put in the trails for CVNP. So, it was easy for us to morph into putting the trails into Richfield Heritage Preserve. We met with the former head of the riding staff for the Girl Scouts. She helped us discover where the original bridle trails were, and we reestablished them.”

“We walked [RHP] when it was open to the public before [Richfield] bought it, and we thought it would be perfect for horse trails,” said Eastwood. “Our club – Summit County Ohio Horseman’s Council – put them in. We had a work day and we had a lot of people come out – residents, horse riders, hikers and others came and put the trails in.”

Richfield resident Renee Tuttle said she typically rides three times a week, spring through fall. Her favorite trail rides are in CVNP and the Brecksville and Hinckley reservations. “It’s just the peacefulness and the beauty of the trails that I enjoy most,” she said. “We are so blessed to have so many options nearby. Riding through the woods is very therapeutic.”

Lin McKay, also of Richfield, has been riding for 25 years. She lists the Covered Bridge Trail in CVNP as her favorite. “Living in Richfield, we’re so conveniently located between Hinckley, Brecksville and Silver Creek; there are so many great riding options nearby.” ∞

Volunteers have worked to create several equestrian trails in the national and local parks. Photo submitted.

Renee Tuttle finds riding her horse on local trails is very peaceful. Photo submitted.

After working to recreate equestrian trails in the Richfield Heritage Preserve, the riders were ready to take their first ride together. Photo submitted.

Chiropractor Dr. Gary Domanick showed members of the Summit Horsemans Council stretching exercises to do. Members shown are Debbie Donner, Kathy King and Molly Eastwood. Photo provided.  

On our cover (photo): Horseback riding offers exposure to nature in many local areas. The Cuyahoga Valley National Park, county parks and the Richfield Heritage Preserve all have equestrian trails that have been created and maintained by equestrian groups. Photo provided.