Come explore an awesome display of nature
featuring 424 acres of forest, fields, wetlands, and over 8.5 miles of hiking trails. The park is named for the deep gorge that divides it, which is easy to get into and difficult to get out of. Naturalists lead exciting seasonal nature-inspired programs and events. Picnic at the sheltered pavilion and listen to the sounds of nature.
Designated by the
Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife as a
'Watchable Wildlife' site.
Accessible facilities, picnic area with grills, All People's Trail, drinking water, restrooms, hiking trails, cross-country skiing, Nature Center, Wildlife Center, The Nature Store gift shop and a bridle trail.
Take I-90 to Rt. 306 south for about one mile. Turn left onto Rt. 615. Turn right (east) onto Kirtland-Chardon Road and continue for two miles. Penitentiary Glen Reservation is located on the right (south) side of the road.
Call the Lake Metroparks Registration Department at 440-358-7275.
Discover the sights and sounds of wildlife at the interactive Nature Calls exhibit. Watch and listen to birds and other wildlife through the award-winning "Window on Wildlife.” Take home a gift from The Nature Store – your headquarters for bird feeders, t-shirts, field guides, toys, and children’s books.
Nature Center: 9 am to 5 pm
Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas
“In nature all things are unique and so is our store”
The Nature Store is here to inspire, nurture and educate visitors through its unique selection of nature-related merchandise for children and adults.
9 am to 5 pm daily
Regional field guides, “how-to” and nature books for people of all ages.
Educational toys, games, discovery kits and hand puppets.
Nature-themed gift items, jewelry, stationary & apparel.
Accessories for the garden & field; bird feeders, wildlife homes, bat houses, walking sticks & compasses.
Vortex optics featuring Audubon and Stokes binoculars for adults and children.
Locally produced honey and maple syrup when in-season.
Lake Metroparks/Penitentiary Glen merchandise including: mugs, pins, patches, magnets and apparel.
Visa, MasterCard & Discover accepted
Lake Metroparks Gift Cards available
The Nature Store at Penitentiary Glen supports Lake Metroparks mission of conservation, education, and stewardship.
The Wildlife Centeris home to 25
animal ambassadors ranging from reptiles, mammals, to a variety of birds of prey. These animals assist the staff in educating the public, groups, and students about wildlife issues and conservation.
Get an up-close look at all of our amazing ambassadors in our Wildlife Center Yard!
Open 9 am to 5 pm daily.
Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas
Note: The Wildlife Center's phone number is now 440-256-1404 x2131.
Penitentiary Glen Reservation offers over 8.5 miles of trails with varying terrain and difficulty. Experience the Peppermint Trail, a quarter-mile loop that is just right for beginners and families and includes a complimentary peppermint stick for all.
For current conditions at Penitentiary Glen Reservation,
call the Nature Center at 440-256-1404 (9 am to 5 pm daily).
Snow accumulation and conditions will determine snowshoe rental availability.
Snowshoe Lodge in the Nature Center. Come in to relax and enjoy a cup of steaming hot chocolate, coffee or tea.
Snowshoe rentals are available 9 am to 4 pm daily beginning early November through early March on an hourly and daily basis
Rentals are available on a first-come basis and cannot be reserved; rentals end one hour before closing.
Rentals on Christmas Eve and New Years Eve are from 9 am to 3 pm and the Nature Center is closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
For more information or availability, call
Earth Day 2014
April 27, 2014 • FREE • Noon to 4 pm
Come out for a day of earth-friendly family fun that includes an eco-fair featuring local and national conservation organizations. Other activities include habitat preservation programs with live animals, a kid’s eco-craft, and Earth ball games. Shop for earthy items at The Nature Store.
26th Annual Bug Day
September 7, 2014 • FREE • Noon to 4 pm
Bring the whole swarm out for a fun afternoon of live bugs, buggy games, activities and adventure. Ride on miniature trains provided by the Lake Shore Live Steamers 1 to 3 pm, weather permitting. Check out The Nature Store for “buggy gifts.”
Lake Metroparks is pleased to announce the 28th year for this contest/show, which is designed to capture the beauty of nature in Lake County through the lenses of amateur photographers. Categories are: Lake Metroparks, Wildlife, Landscapes and Floral, Black & White, and Lake Erie. New category this year: Geology. A separate junior division will feature the work of photographers ages 14 and younger. ALL photos must be taken within Lake County.
Fall Art Show
August 23 through October 12, 2014 • FREE • 9 am to 5 pm
Discover nature from a feminine perspective through the media of watercolor and mosaic in this three-woman show. Meet the artists at the free opening reception on Saturday, August 23 from noon to 4pm. Enjoy demonstrations by the artists and light refreshments. Art is available for purchase.
FREE Nature Center Open Houses
February Fun Day Monday
February 17, 2014 (Presidents’ Day) • FREE • 10 am to 4 pm
School’s out on Presidents' Day. Looking for a fun family experience? Stop by the Nature Center anytime between 10 am and 4 pm. Visit the Nature Center for scavenger hunts, seasonal craft, outdoor x-plorer packs, hiking, hands on exhibits, the Wildlife Center, live animals and much more. Naturalists are available to answer all of your nature-related questions and to help guide you through the day. Visit The Nature Store, refreshments are available. All ages welcome.
Fun Day Monday -- Spring Break
April 21, 2014 • FREE • 10 am to 4 pm
School’s out for Spring Break. Looking for a fun family experience? Stop by the Nature Center anytime between 10 am and 4 pm. Visit the Nature Center for scavenger hunts, seasonal craft, outdoor x-plorer packs, hiking, hands on exhibits, the Wildlife Center, live animals and much more. Naturalists are on-hand to answer all of your nature related questions and to help guide you through the day. Visit the Nature Store; refreshments are available. All ages welcome.
Hummingbird Open House
August 3, 2014 • FREE • Noon to 4 pm
Penitentiary Glen Nature Center is going to the “humming” birds! Learn all about ruby-throated hummingbirds and watch for them at our feeders. Discover tips about feeders and nectar, flowers that attract hummingbirds, and where they go for the winter. Free, fun activities for the whole family!
Autumn Open House
Penitentiary Glen Reservation
October 5, 2014 • FREE • Noon to 4 pm
Enjoy the sights, smells and tastes of autumn in Northeast Ohio. Journey through fall colors on miniature steam trains, 1 to 3 pm weather permitting, get creative with a craft, learn how wildlife prepares for the coming season and hike one of the many park trails. The Nature Store will be open.
Get outside and enjoy the beauty of the winter woodlands on a nature hike. Featured hikes will vary in length and terrain from flat and easy for the novice hiker to longer with rolling terrain and a few steep hills for the experienced hiker. Easy-to-follow trail maps are available in the Nature Center. Pre-registration required and fee applies.
Super Star Party
August 9, 2014 • 8 pm to midnight
Have fun with astronomy while looking up into the sky at the annual Super Star Party. It’s a celebration of astronomical proportions! Stargazers of all ages can catch a good view of the Perseid Meteor Shower. Also, see the moon, planets, stars, and solar system with telescopes and expert guidance provided by the Chagrin Valley Astronomical Society (weather permitting).
All aboard for a ride on a miniature steam engine as you take the “Red Light Express Train Ride.” Trains are provided by the Lake Shore Live Steamers and ride times are selected at registration. Train rides are weather permitting. Stop by The Nature Store for “out of this world” gifts. Pre-registration required and fee applies.
Register online or call 440-358-7275 or 800-669-9226.
FREE Train Rides
Miniature steam-powered engines pull passengers through the woodlands of Penitentiary Glen Reservation to the rim of the gorge. Trains sometimes run in conjunction with a special event. The railroad is operated by the Lake Shore Live Steamers Club.
Rides run 1 to 3 pm, weather permitting, on the following Sundays in 2014:
April 27 (Earth Day)
May 4 (Railroads in the Parks)
September 7 (Bug Day)
Safety Rules for the Glen Meadow & Orchard Railroad
NOTE: Some of our trains are steam powered and emit smoke, soot and cinders which add to the experience. As an alternative, guests may ask to wait and be placed on a non-steam powered train.
For your safety, please...
Children ages 10 and younger must be accompanied by an adult.
All passengers must be seated in a designated seat.
Pregnant women are not permitted to ride the trains.
Remain seated and facing forward with hands & feet inside train.
Sit still and do not lean.
Photography and videotaping are prohibited.
Follow instructions of railroad crew at all times.
Boarding may be denied any person due to safety reasons.
Any unsafe action or violation of above regulations may result in
removal from train.
Thank you for your cooperation and have a pleasant journey.
All engineers and train crews operate under strict safety rules.
Want to learn more about what can be found at Penitentiary Glen Reservation?
Sign out an X-Plorer pack and use the tools inside to identify birds, plants, insects, and more. Plus you get to fill out and keep your own nature journal!
The tools, activities and journal change seasonally.
What a great way to spend a day with your family, scout group or class!!
For more information, please call the front desk at 440-256-1404.
ID required for borrowing packs.
No registration necessary
X-Plorer Packs are available on a first-come, first served basis.
How the gorge got its name
Penitentiary Glen is known for the deep gorge that divides the park in two. Settlers in the early 1880s called the gorge "Penitentiary Glen," because it was difficult to get out of the deepest part, much like a prison or penitentiary. (Imagine trying to climb straight up a 100 ft. wall!) The gorge is a sensitive area and has restricted access because of its steep walls, exposed rock, and fragile vegetation. Naturalists lead guided hikes throughout the year. Ask staff in the Nature Center about our hikes or call the Registration Department at 440-358-7275.
The great gorge that gives Penitentiary Gully its name is always a magical place to hike on a summer afternoon. Be prepared to walk in the creek bed with your naturalist guide. Shoes that you don't mind getting wet are a must! The place is leisurely, but the terrain is rough.
Come and explore this unique place that is not normally open to the public. Instructor: Volunteer Guides and Pat Morse.
In 1912, the Halle family, owners of the Halle Bros. Co. in Cleveland, bought this property for their summer estate and working farm. The farm was managed by the Burnett family, who lived here year-round. The only remaining structure is the horse barn, which now houses the Nature Center. Wise use of the land has preserved this special area for today and the future.
The Halles' lifestyle was typical of many wealthy Cleveland families who lived in the city and spent summers in the country. Sam and Blanche Halle had a deep respect for nature and wanted their children to have the same. They hired Maude Doolittle, a school teacher from Massachusetts who loved nature, as a governess for the children during the summer months.
A professionally designed and installed educational interactive exhibit highlighting the ‘hey-days” of Hallefarm and demonstrates land use changes over time. This new exhibit explores the Halle family summer estate from historic local agricultural trends, to the present day 400 acre natural area preserved by Lake Metroparks.
The rich heritage of the Halle family while present on the property will be featured along with that of the Burnett family, caretakers of the estate.
The Hallefarm exhibit includes:
A large photo album with over thirty early black and white photographs of Hallefarm.
Ten touch boxes featuring artifacts from Hallefarm, i.e. Ann Halle’s spats, a draft horse shoe, hay hooks, and ice tongs.
Large aerial photographs showing land use patterns over time.
An interactive computer kiosk featuring past and current photos, audio and video. Visitors will be able to compare “then” and “now”.
Exhibit counter tops with Corinthian capital bases, replicas from the cottage site.
A companion map/trail guide offer a self-guided tour down memory lane featuring twelve stations along the Hallefarm trail with information about the history of the property.
Stations include The Horse Barn (now the Nature Center), Apple orchard (Miniature Railroad), Rose Garden (Wildflower Garden), Swimming pool (Stoney Brook), and the Tack Room (Heritage Library)
Hallefarm will be a permanent addition to the interactive exhibits at The Nature Center. Admission is free to all ages.
Clubs that meet at Penitentiary Glen Nature Center