After living in Akron for 25 solid years and considering ourselves seasoned hikers, we recently stumbled upon the wonders of Deer Lick Cave and Loop Trail. It’s less than 1/2 hour drive from Akron, located in Brecksville, Ohio. Who knew such a beauty was lurking so close?
We embarked on our adventure after a stretch of three rainy days. To our surprise, the terrain was barely muddy. With our two furry companions leading the way, the trail by the creek became an absolute delight. Numerous spots along the creek served as little hydration breaks for our dogs, allowing them to sip some water and indulge in playful swims.
The dirt trail offers a serene escape from the city hustle, interspersed with patches of gravel and all-purpose areas. As we ventured deeper into the heart of the forest, the melodious sound of the waterfall called out to us. The trail also has the bonus of bathrooms and a nature center close to the trailhead.
The descent to the waterfall is quite manageable, though it requires navigating several steps, wear sneakers or hiking shoes.
The waterfall culminates in a calming pool beneath where our dogs couldn’t resist a quick dip. It’s just a small waterfall, not what I’d say is a top 10 Ohio waterfall but it’s beautiful and exciting, just the same. Throughout our hike, we spotted children accompanied by their parents, enjoying the creek’s playful stream. It instantly reminded me of how much my own kids would have enjoyed this during their younger days.
Weekends in the warmer months can be a tad challenging for parking, given the popularity of the place. But with several parking lots lined along the road and multiple entry points to the Deer Lick loop trail, a short 10-minute walk will lead you straight to the cave if you nab a spot close to the entrance sign.
Speaking of the cave, did you know about its intriguing backstory? Millions of years ago, Ohio was submerged beneath an ocean. This ancient ocean’s salt residues got trapped in the shoreline sands. As sandstone formations occurred, this salt became a part of it. Deer, especially the white-tailed ones, are often spotted licking this salt-rich sandstone, lending the Deer Lick Cave its name. However, it’s worth noting that it isn’t a true cave but a splendid rock overhang sculpted through time by the erosion of Berea sandstone. There are plenty of real caves in Ohio, though!
Delving deeper into the Brecksville Reservation, the Deer Lick Cave Trail is a 4.3-mile loop. It’s a moderately challenging trail, taking an average of about 1 h 45 min to complete. Be prepared to meet fellow nature lovers, as it’s a favorite spot for hikers, mushroom hunters, and runners. And, if you’re a dog owner like us, this trail is pet-friendly, with the only condition being they must be on a leash.
There are two trailheads to start your adventure: The Nature Center Trailhead and the Deer Lick Cave Trailhead. For a shorter escapade, the Deerlick Creek Trailhead is a good choice, barely 100 yards away from the cave. But if you’re in for an extensive hiking experience, the Nature Center Trailhead is the way to go. A critical tip: ensure you’re on the Deer Lick Cave Trail marked by an Oak Leaf blaze. This trail offers varied landscapes – from scenic stream valleys to a challenging climb up a rugged ridge, ultimately leading to the Deer Lick Cave. The journey also includes crossing over Meadows Drive and discovering small, picturesque waterfalls along larger streams. Your hike will conclude at the Nature Center, promising a fulfilling nature-filled experience and more restrooms if you need them!.
To the adventurous souls in Akron and around, the Deer Lick Cave and Loop Trail awaits your exploration. Dive into nature’s past and present, and let the beauty of the Brecksville Reservation captivate your spirit. We plan to go back in the fall to enjoy the fall foliage, it’s going to be gorgeous!
9000 Chippewa Creek Drive