With pastoral slopes, serene cross-country skiing terrain, and a perfect-for-skating lake, Virginia Kendall Park is a popular playground for outdoors enthusiasts. As such, it fulfills the vision that park developers had for the area 65 years ago.
Unlike other projects of the Civilian Conservation Corps, this one was not geared toward tree-planting and the prevention of erosion, flooding, and forest fires. Instead, the emphasis all along was on recreation.
The 1,574-acre tract, now part of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, was purchased from the Hayward Kendall family in the '20s with the idea that it would one day become an outdoor recreational mecca for Cleveland and Akron, says Tom Medema, supervisory ranger for the national park. The area was named for Kendall's mother.
Cross-country skiers and snowshoers go there to enjoy the serenity of the valley's non-groomed trails. "It's a little bit more solitude, as opposed to groomed trails, where there are more people," says Medema. There's also something awe-inspiring about being in a national park, "just being in the valley in that kind of setting."
Medema trains and manages a small staff of professionally certified instructors who conduct cross-country skiing workshops. Sessions for beginners are held Saturday mornings and Sunday afternoons in January and February. Intermediate-level workshops, snowshoeing instruction, and open skiing are also available. Ten dollars gets you ski rental and two hours of instruction; for five, you can rent skis and go out on your own for half a day.
After recent years of sparse snowfall, Mother Nature's almost-daily dumpings and dustings have done right by outdoor types. "We've struggled the past few years for snow, so we're pretty happy," says Medema.
Still, local snowfall being the hit-or-miss proposition it is, he suggests that you call ahead before packing up the skis and skates.