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Best places for natural wonder

Certain natural places have universal, timeless appeal. They evoke feelings of awe, peacefulness, or spiritual connection with the Earth. Many were revered by Native Americans. You walk into these places and know immediately that you are treading on sacred ground.

Every region is blessed with such places, although in Northeast Ohio they may not be as obvious as they are in some parts of the country. We have the magnificent Lake Erie, but we have no great mountain as our bioregional center of gravity (the way Mt. Shasta is a bioregional symbol for Northern California). Instead, we have many smaller places, subtler places. They are worth getting to know.

Mentor Headlands Dunes State Nature Preserve<br />One of the last remaining examples of a sand dune plant community in Ohio.

Here are some nominations for special natural places of Northeast Ohio. Several involve types of erosion-resistant stone—Berea sandstone, cap rock of many of the waterfalls of the region, and Sharon conglomerate, the pebbly stone which forms dramatic ledges and knobs. In addition, river gorges are often special places.

  • Little Mountain near the Lake/Geauga County border. One of the high points of the snowbelt and covered with plants and trees reflecting the edge of the Allegheny Plateau.
  • Kendall Ledges along the Cuyahoga River Valley. A grand vista over the forested Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area. (And other ledges, such as Nelson Ledges in Portage County, Top-o-the-Ledges in Hinckley.)
  • Indian Point in Lake County. A high, defensible bluff formed by the confluence of the Grand River and Paine Creek.
  • Tinkers Creek Gorge in Bedford. A deep, dramatic gorge and National Natural Landmark. (And other gorges—Grand River in Lake County, Cuyahoga River in Cuyahoga Falls.)
  • Cascade Park in Elyria. Features awesome, twin waterfalls at the confluence of the east and west branches of the Black River.
  • Kent Bog in Kent. A tamarack bog that is a remnant of Canada left by the glaciers.
  • Cuyahoga Wetlands in Geauga County near Burton. A rich (and amazingly pristine, given its proximity to urban areas) complex of ponds and wetlands and streams that forms the headwaters of the Cuyahoga River.
  • Headlands Dunes Nature Preserve in Mentor. A rare preserve of Great Lakes beach habitat.
  • A.B. Williams Woods in the North Chagrin Reservation. A glimpse of the region's original beech-maple climax forest.
  • Any of the all-too-rare public access points to Lake Erie, where you can appreciate the power and vastness of the lake. Edgewater Park in Cleveland, Huntington Reservation in Bay Village and Mentor Headlands State Park in Mentor are choice spots.

Where are your favorite (and publicly accessible) natural places in Northeast Ohio? Send in your nominations.

 

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