FALL HIKING SPREE
This year's spree has been extended!
Earn credit through 12/15. Click for details
2013 Hiking Form | Milestone Stickers | Map of Trailheads
Hiking Spree History | Shields Since 1965
Earn FREE rewards* by hiking at least eight designated trails, September 1 through December 15. First-year hikers earn a hiking staff and shield. Veteran hikers earn a hiking shield.
*Since the program is funded by Summit County tax dollars, out-of-county residents pay to receive their hiking rewards ($10 for first-year hikers, $5 for veteran hikers).
ALERT: Access to Firestone Metro Park may be limited during the spree. Click here for details.
After completing each hike, you can sign and date your form if park staff and volunteers are unavailable. Parks are open daily, 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., unless otherwise noted.
Additional hiking forms are available at the visitors center at F.A. Seiberling Nature Realm, the park district's administrative offices and all Acme Fresh Market stores.
For more information, call 330-865-8065.
Show off your accomplishment with a FREE milestone sticker for your hiking staff, available during regular hours at the visitors center at F.A. Seiberling Nature Realm and the administrative offices in Sand Run Metro Park.
Hiking Spree History
The 2011 book "Steps In Time: Ninety Years of Metro Parks, Serving Summit County," published by the University of Akron Press, details the start of the annual Fall Hiking Spree:
"(Director-Secretary Arthur) Wilcox's most lasting contribution was to be the Fall Hiking Spree, which kicked off in 1964. It remains the country's longest running and most successful hiking program. Wilcox called it a spree to give hikers the idea they were doing something fun instead of work.
The hiking spree did not spring from a whim. Wilcox knew from his days walking park boundaries and designing trails for the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) that the parks, for all their natural beauty, were underused. He wanted to find a way to get people into the parks so they could see and experience what he already knew to be treasures ....
Working with John Kasarda, who had replaced (Forrest) Coup as head of maintenance, Wilcox created a template that remains in place to this day. He mapped out a total of 12 miles along seven trails in the district's six parks to be included in the first hiking spree. Each hiker had to have a form signed by a ranger.
One of the inaugural spree trails ran through Deep Lock Quarry. Although the district had owned the land since 1934, it had never been open to the public as a park until 1964.
As an incentive, Wilcox and Kasarda planned to give out hiking staffs made of small saplings cut from the parks to all Summit County residents who completed the seven hikes. They thought too small. By the end of the first spree, 1,530 people had earned hiking staffs, including Wilcox, whose daughter, Anita, persuaded her parents to hit the trails so they could all earn their own staffs.
The overwhelming response presented a problem, because Wilcox and Kasarda were loath to cut that many saplings. Bob Butcher of the Butcher Construction Co. brought a rescue in the form of enough mop handles to give to all the successful hikers ....
But what could the parks offer repeat hikers in future sprees? Naturalist Bert Szabo, who led many of the guided spree hikes on Sunday afternoons, suggested offering a metal shield to veteran hikers that could be attached to their staffs. That idea came from a park district in Germany.
"Steps in Time" is available for purchase from the gift shop at F.A. Seiberling Nature Realm.
Shields Since 1965
The hiking spree began in 1964, and the only reward that first year was a hiking staff. Shields were introduced the following year. With 2013, there have been 49 commemorative shields.