4th Jul, 2010

Solitude in Olmsted Falls

One of our favorite haunts in our hometown of Olmsted Falls is the Fortier Park area, which can be accessed from the lower parking lot of the town library. The park, which would be easy to overlook, covers about 5 acres and follows the West Branch of the Rocky River.

The river has a series of small waterfalls, some that you can walk right up to, others best viewable by the numerous overlooks built into the hillsides. There’s a gorgeous covered bridge built in the 1990s by Amish craftsman. The bridge is a pedestrian-only structure, but worth a walk over.

There are some interesting old icehouses in one of the lower portions of the park that have been converted to restrooms; nearby, you’ll find a small covered shelter and an assortment of picnic tables. More falls are in this area, and you may see kids playing on or around them, even sliding down the small, slippery slopes. But this is dangerous, and numerous signs warn of a $100 fine for swimming—or, I presume, waterfall-sliding!

There’s also a pile of old sandstone in at one location about halfway from the shelter to the library parking lot. Not sure where it came from or what it was intended for, but there were several mills in the area ages ago. There are even some old grindstones to be found in the river, if you look hard enough. The trails are very well-maintained and only a little bit hilly. There are plenty of places where you can sit on big rocks and just watch the water cascade by.

A short walk from the covered bridge is the quaint Moosehead Hoof & Ladder, at 7987 Columbia Road. The restaurant is a beautiful renovation of an old fire station (and later, a police station), and there are many beautifully restored fire station antiques. The bar is a sight to behold. Servers are dressed in old-fashioned fire station-type garb, and kids are given silly plastic fire chief hats on entering. Food isn’t particularly healthy, but it is very satisfying fare—burgers, sandwiches, and the like. The kids menu is reasonable and pretty varied. And I highly recommend the homemade chips and dip served with the sandwiches. I generally avoid chips/dip, but theirs is so good, it’s worth the caloric splurge.

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