It’s really hard to impress teenagers. Stretching that statement even further, I’d say it’s extremely rare and shocking to impress teenagers without flashing technology, intense dance moves or dangerous stunts.
Leave it to the capable staff of Lake Metroparks to provide a safe and engaging outdoor recreational space for older kids and teenagers to enjoy.
We were experiencing what can best be described as an Indian summer. The weather was unseasonably warm and delightfully pleasant. Two of my children invited friends along with us to explore what I had heard described as a ninja course. We traveled to Jordan Creek Park in Concord Township, Ohio.
In the summer of 2021, the newest area of the park was opened. Adventure Play is an outdoor recreational area designed with active and creative play in mind for older children. Climbing walls, a suspension bridge and a zip line are some of the top attractions. My children and their friends jumped from one obstacle to the next.
The course is designed for free-roaming — there is not a beginning or an end. My crew scuttled over slack lines connecting trees and practiced balancing on vertical and horizontal log obstacles. They laughed and screeched and didn’t want to leave, or maybe that was me. Parents will find this playground a blast as well as children.
The nature center has many indoor interactive displays for older children too. Our favorite was an augmented reality sandbox. It was an interactive topographic map. When sand is moved, images are projected showing mountains, valleys and waterways. We watched as river deltas and floodplains appeared when we dragged our fingers through the sand.
The nature center also has available indoor and outdoor scavenger hunts. Our biggest challenge was finding petrified wood. My lips are sealed; I’m not giving away its location.
The acreage where Jordan Creek Park is located has a long history of providing outdoor recreation and respite from urban living. The first camps at the location in the early 1900s were called fresh air camps.
Then, a transition led to a partnership with the Methodist Youth Fellowship which held annual church camps at the location. In 1952, the United Methodist Church sponsored a camp called Camp Klein named after its founder George Klein. An end to the church camp era meant a new beginning for the land.
After the property changed hands and went through legal proceedings, Lake Metroparks’ ownership was established in 2001. The former main hall of Camp Klein became the Environmental Learning Center.
The additions of classrooms, a lab space, and an observatory created an atmosphere perfect for young explorers to learn more about science. Existing trails forged by campers over the years were improved and new trails were established.
Begging to be explored
From the Jordan Creek Valley to the clusters of hemlock and beech trees, the park beckons to be explored. The park now has many trails of varying distances with Jordan Creek Crossing Trail being the shortest at 0.18 of a mile and Ridge Trail at 0.90 of a mile as the longest. The trails can be combined to increase hiking distance.
To accommodate seniors and visitors with mobility impairments, Lake Metroparks has purchased trail carts. The multi-purpose Greenway Corridor can be reached via a connector trail from the parking lot.
The city of Painesville and the townships of Concord and Painesville are connected by the 5.1-mile long Greenway Corridor. The paved trail is perfect for cyclists, walkers and runners.
We walked just under half a mile from the Jordan Creek Park parking lot through a natural area before we reached the Chair Factory Falls Trail. From the trailhead, we hiked 0.29 miles down into the ravine to reach the 30-foot waterfall.
Sunlight was peeking through the tree canopy while yellow and orange leaves fluttered to the forest floor. It’s not every day in Ohio we are presented with the opportunity to sit by a waterfall and eat a picnic lunch.
We had to seize the moment and enjoy the trifecta of friends, food, and an extravagant display of nature. Water trickled down over stacked stone before reaching the creek littered with natural sandstone boulders and fallen leaves.
I didn’t expect to have such a perfectly wonderful day. It was a surprise blessing that confirmed for me that fall is an optimal season for outdoor exploration.
Jordan Creek Park also verified my suspicion that nature and play are the best combination for explorers of any age.
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