Best Hike off the Beaten Path

The Buckeye Trail in Brecksville Reservation

Forget the humanity-clogged Metroparks paths and the Towpath Trail. Unless you prefer dodging bicyclists, in-line skaters, and parents pushing tots in strollers, check out this secluded six-mile stretch of the Buckeye Trail, where you're likely to see more deer than people. Start by ditching your car at the National Park Service building near the intersection of Riverview and Snowville roads in Brecksville. Next, slip on your backpack, filled with water and your favorite salty snacks, and follow the signs to catch the Buckeye Trail heading north. Within minutes, you'll free yourself of the clutches of civilization and get lost in nature, traipsing along a hilly path past trickling streams, sourwood trees, and enough flora to give your inner horticulturist a buzz. To avoid actually getting lost, keep an eye on the blue blazes -- painted on trees every 100 to 300 feet -- that mark the trail. A couple of hours later, when you arrive at the Plateau Picnic Area near Chippewa Creek Drive and Valley Parkway, break out the snacks and take a swig of water. Then turn around and enjoy the whole thing again in reverse.