5/22/20 COVID-19 RESPONSE UPDATE:
Parks & trails remain open. Please see below for the latest information and FAQs and observe the following guidelines for safe park use:
- Think First: Stay home if you are sick or have symptoms.
- Wash Hands: Wash your hands before coming to the park, carry hand sanitizer and avoid touching picnic tables, railings and benches.
- Keep Your Distance: Maintain 6 feet between yourself and others and give warning before passing on the trail. Follow trail markings for one-way travel.
- Come Prepared: Bring your own drinking water, carry out your trash and be prepared for restroom closures.
- Respect Closures: Playgrounds, shelters, docks, some restrooms and other amenities are closed for public safety. Please bypass busy areas for quieter ones - it's a great time to check out a new park.
- Stay in Touch: The situation changes rapidly. We are implementing dynamic closures and updating this website and our social media with the latest information.
Escucha en Español
The safety of our visitors and employees continues to be our top priority and our parks and trails remain open. Beginning June 1, Summit Metro Parks will reopen its camping facilities and will once again allow vehicle traffic on Sand Run Parkway between Sand Run Rd. and the ford. The park district has also lifted restrictions on using picnic tables, benches and grills and has restored access to most observation decks and fishing docks. At the guidance of public health authorities for limiting gatherings of more than 10 people, Summit Metro Parks has extended the closure of rentable shelters and lodges through at least June 14 and cancellation of in-person public programs and public buildings through at least June 30.
Summit Metro Parks urges everyone to stay home if sick or exhibiting symptoms, wash their hands before coming to the parks and maintain at least six feet from other visitors. The park district also reminds visitors to avoid congregating in parking lots or at points of interest and to bypass busy areas. Visitors are asked to carry their own water and hand sanitizer and if possible, to bring a trash bag to carry out their own trash. Summit Metro Parks also asks the general public to reserve use of the parks to seniors and high-risk populations from 6 to 8 a.m. to help minimize their exposure.
Under the current directive from state health officials, Summit Metro Parks will begin re-evaluating and approving existing special use permits for 10 or fewer people on a case-by-case basis. As previously announced and in accordance with Summit County Public Health guidance on large-scale gatherings, park district has eliminated all internal and external in-person events for more than 250 people through September 7.
Summit Metro Parks remains fully operational, with rangers and maintenance crews continuing to keep parks clean and safe, naturalists and biologists helping to deliver virtual programming, and the majority of administrative staff continuing to telework to serve the public while complying with social distancing requirements.
Facilities and amenities currently closed for public safety include:
The park district will continue to monitor guidance from health authorities in order to
determine when and how it can safely reopen facilities and resume in-person programs. Through December 31, Summit Metro Parks is no longer accepting new lodge or shelter reservations and new special use permit application approvals have been placed on hold. Those with existing reservations through December 31 may contact the park district to reschedule or receive a refund.
All further decisions will be communicated to the public on an ongoing basis as the situation evolves. Please continue to follow Summit Metro Parks online for the latest information and on Facebook for our “At Home in Nature” series of videos and activities to remain connected to the outdoors during this public health emergency.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Why are your facilities closed and in-person programs canceled during the reopening of Ohio?
We are following the guidance of Governor Mike DeWine directing us to eliminate gatherings of more than 10 people in order to slow the spread of COVID-19. Even outdoor programs require people to be clustered together in ways that are not currently permitted by health authorities. Please stay tuned for information on virtual programming opportunities.
The governor has allowed weddings and wedding receptions - why is my lodge/shelter reservation still canceled?
The governor’s order involving weddings applies to facilities that can operate under all the guidelines set forth for restaurants. Summit Metro Parks lodges and shelters cannot meet restaurant guidelines and therefore are not permitted to open under current rules.
Why did you reopen Sand Run Parkway to vehicle traffic between Sand Run Rd. and the ford?
Because the park district has another section of roadway closed to vehicle traffic, it became time to reopen the road. Pedestrians are welcome to use the section of Sand Run Parkway between Portage Path and Merriman Rd. that is closed to vehicle traffic due to a failing culvert. Parking is available at the Old Portage Area of Sand Run Metro Park.
When will you reopen camping per the governor’s order?
Camping will reopen June 1. We will once again begin accepting reservations as of May 22.
Why did you close swim parks for the 2020 season?
Due to the cancellation of springtime lifeguard training and certification programs during COVID-19, we had to make the difficult decision in early May to close the facilities for the 2020 season and notify seasonal staff so they could seek other employment. Uncertainty regarding the ability to open these facilities in a way that ensures proper social distancing and mass gathering size, as well as securing adequate first aid and disinfecting supplies also impacted our decision.
When will you reopen public buildings/accept new reservations?
Nature centers and other public buildings remain closed to the public under the most recent directives from state officials. Once we are permitted to reopen, we will evaluate whether we can do so safely, with sufficient supplies, disinfecting procedures and other safety protocols in place.
Why did you cancel outdoor shelter reservations?
Shelters encourage groups to congregate. We are following orders from state and local officials who have directed us close non-essential facilities and eliminate gatherings of more than 10 people in the hopes of slowing the spread of COVID-19. We are closely monitoring all updates and will adjust our policies as new guidance is provided.
What do the closures mean for my reservation?
What does this mean for my Special Use Permit?
- All lodge and shelter reservations are canceled through June 14 and you may reschedule or receive a refund. A customer service representative will be in touch with you to work out those details, or you may email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Additional cancellations are possible, pending further guidance from public health authorities. Rescheduling and refunds are also available to those with reservations through December 31.
- Until further notice, Summit Metro Parks is not accepting new lodge or shelter reservations through December 31. We are accepting new reservations for dates beginning January 1, 2021.
Is Spree for All canceled?
- All Special Use Permits for group gatherings of 11 or more are canceled through June 14, as well as permits for gatherings of more than 250 through September 7. You may reschedule or receive a refund. A customer service representative will be in touch with you to work out those details, or you may email email@example.com. We are closely monitoring all updates and will adjust our policies as new guidance is provided.
- If the group size can be modified to 250 or fewer, the permit can tentatively remain in place. At this time, we are unable to provide specific guidance on what group sizes will be permitted on any given date, and permit holders should be aware that the permit could be canceled at any time pending direction from federal, state or local public health authorities. Additionally, all permit holders may be asked to submit a written plan for review/approval on how they will comply with safety and social distancing guidance from health authorities.
- Existing special use permits scheduled for June 15 – September 7 for groups of 250 or fewer remain in place, pending further direction from public health authorities. Additional cancellations are possible.
- The Special Use Permit approval process for new permits is currently on hold.
Like other programs and events, the start of Spree for All is postponed until June 1. The end of the spree will be extended to ensure it remains two months long. Although the spree takes place outside, we are trying to limit traffic to some of the park district’s busiest trails during the COVID-19 outbreak. We are also hoping to offer a virtual Spree for All option – please stay tuned for more details!
How can the public use the parks safely?
Summit Metro Parks urges everyone to stay home if sick or exhibiting symptoms, wash their hands before coming to the parks and maintain at least six feet from other visitors. The park district also reminds visitors to avoid congregating in parking lots or at points of interest and to bypass busy parking lots. Visitors are asked to carry their own water and hand sanitizer, avoid “high touch” items like benches, railings and picnic tables, and if possible, to bring a trash bag to carry out their own trash. Summit Metro Parks also asks the general public to reserve use of the parks to seniors and high-risk populations from 6 to 8 a.m. to help minimize their exposure.
Do I need to wear a mask at the parks?
While visitors are not required to wear a mask in outdoor areas when maintaining six feet from others, we ask runners and cyclists to consider wearing one when passing on the trail.
Where are some of your quieter park areas?
We encourage visitors to avoid high-traffic areas and visit less-busy parks. This is a great time to check out a new park! Some suggestions include:
Is it safe to use a picnic table, bench or grill?
While Summit Metro Parks has lifted restrictions on using these amenities, please be aware that we are unable to disinfect them.
What are “senior hours?”
Parks are safe to visit at any time of day if proper social distancing is practiced. However, early morning hours are the least-visited and therefore the best time to minimize exposure. If their schedules allow, the park district is encouraging the general public to observe “senior hours” from 6 to 8 a.m. to allow high-risk populations to enjoy the parks with reduced change of exposure. We hope that visitors will comply with this request to help protect our most vulnerable populations.
Are your public playgrounds open?
At the direction of state authorities, all playgrounds and nature play areas remain closed for public safety.
Are the restrooms open?
The park district has closed a number of restrooms to conserve supplies. Some trailside accessible from the outdoors remain open for emergency use only - a full list of available restrooms is available on the Park & Trail Alerts page. Restrooms are cleaned once daily to protect staff and preserve supplies and equipment.
Can I use an archery range?
With additional safety measures in place, Summit Metro Parks has re-opened archery ranges. In addition to general park use safety guidelines, the sign-in sheet has been eliminated.
Is the Goodyear Heights Community Garden open?
With additional safety measures in place, Summit Metro Parks has re-opened the Goodyear Heights Community Garden. In addition to general park use safety guidelines, gardeners are asked to wear gloves and disinfect high-touch items after each use. Shared tools will not be provided, and community garden use will be limited to 10 or fewer at a time.
Can I play basketball/soccer/baseball/etc.?
Some limited, non-contact sports are now permitted in small groups. Please visit Responsible Restart Ohio for latest information, or contact the park district to discuss your special use permit. Basketball courts remain closed at the direction of Summit County Public Health.
Is fishing permitted? Are you stocking fishing ponds and lakes?
Fishing is a permitted activity, with proper social distancing. With the exception of Brushwood Lake at Furnace Run Metro Park, all Spring 2020 full-size fish stockings are canceled because they draw large crowds. (Brushwood was stocked prior to the COVID-19 public health emergency.) Lakes and ponds have an existing fish population, and the park district will continue stocking lakes with young fish that will reach full size by later this summer.
How do we reach you while staff is teleworking?
At this time, our offices are closed, but we continue to serve you via telework. Please call 330.867.5511 for a pre-recorded message with the latest information on reaching SMP staff. For questions regarding a lodge, shelter or camping reservation or a special use permit, please email our customer service representatives at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are you hiring?
Although we have temporarily suspended hiring, we continue to accept applications and are screening and interviewing applicants. We do not anticipate hiring seasonal employees this summer. For more information on available positions, please visit: https://www.summitmetroparks.org/employment.aspx.
Why did you change Mother’s Day 5K / Touch-A-Truck?
While the in-person festivities have been canceled, we are offering safe alternatives for both events. We are following direction from Summit County Public Health asking community organizations to cancel large gatherings through the summer. Our cancellation of events of more than 250 people through September 7 is consistent with decisions made by the cities of Akron and Cuyahoga Falls.
What is #AtHomeInNature?
“At Home in Nature” is a series of videos, activities and other information to help people stay connected to nature even if they can’t make it out to a park. Follow us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/summitmetroparks) to tune in!
Will you offer virtual programs?
We are in the process of developing virtual programming options. Please stay tuned for more information!
Will you extend the deadline for collecting Fall Hiking Spree rewards? Will there be shield assistance?
Summit Metro Parks will extend the deadline to ensure everyone has an opportunity to receive their rewards, and we also hope to reschedule the shield assistance previously planned for March 31. We will provide additional details when we know more.
Can I purchase SMP merchandise while the gift shop is closed?
Unfortunately, we do not currently have online shopping or the capability to process phone orders. This is something we hope to add in the future.