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In the late 1970s, the Summit County Metro Parks developed a plan to transform 1,500 acres of land in the Cuyahoga River and Little Cuyahoga River valleys near downtown Akron into a unique urban park called Cascade Valley.

The Cuyahoga Valley National Park protects 33,000 acres along the banks of the Cuyahoga River. Though such a short distance from urban environments, the park is worlds away. The winding Cuyahoga -- the "crooked river," as Native Americans called it -- gives way to rolling floodplain, steep valley walls, ravines, and lush upland forests. The park is a refuge for flora and fauna, and provides both recreation and solitude for Northeastern Ohio residents and visitors.

As recently as 1913, the area around the quarry and canal was devoid of plants. It now is covered with shrubs and trees, including more Ohio buckeye trees than in any other metro park in Summit County. The buckeyes are visible from the canal towpath, especially along the Cuyahoga Trail.

At the Nature Realm, 16 acres have been developed into an arboretum, featuring a collection of more than 300 varieties of trees and shrubs.
With its canal, meandering river, two ponds, and a large swamp, Firestone is one of the finest protected wetland areas in Summit County. Fish, crayfish, frogs, and turtles are found along the streams. The swamp, forest, and wet meadow shelter foxes, raccoons, skunks, muskrats, rabbits, mice, voles, and moles, along with many beautiful summer and fall wildflowers.

In 1929, the family of Charles Francis Brush Jr. donated 272 acres in the Brushwood Area. Along Old Mill Trail, hikers can see a marker which says, in part, "To all those who love as he loved the far sky and smiling land." Much of the park was developed during the 1930s with work-relief crews.

Land donated by both the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company and Gilbert Waltz gave this Metro Park its start in 1930.

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