Created in 1931 as a memorial to the passing of Albert Fairchild Holden’s child, Elizabeth, Holden Arboretum in Kirtland Ohio, covering more than 3,600 acres in Lake and Geauga counties, is one of the largest arboretums in the US. When Mr. Holden passed away, a trust for the development of the arboretum was left to his enthusiastic teen daughters who continued develop the beauty their father envisioned. With the help of several local families, and a strong membership base, the Holden Arboretum has continued to thrive and grow. In 2014 Holden integrated with the Cleveland Botanical Garden to create Holden Forests and Gardens, an organization dedicated to a greener, healthier Ohio, and offering visitors a wonderful escape from their concrete surroundings.
Meeting the knowledgeable staff at the interpretive center is a great way to start your visit, and returning with batch of questions is a fun way to end a visit. While in the center, on can enjoy the crafts of local artists and grab a snack while looking over the fantastic, colorful, and diverse butterfly garden. An arboretum is a living outdoor museum celebrating the beauty of trees and woody plants, and throughout Holden subtle signage provides names and descriptions for most of the plant life found along the paths. The paths through the woods, incredible gardens, and around the beautifully restored Corning Lake are mostly paved or cindered, and reasonably easily traversed for all ages and abilities. Many park benches are scattered about, providing many chance for rest or quiet contemplation. There are even guide-driven cart tours available for those unable to cover the grounds on foot. If you take a moment to imagine your idea of a perfect park setting, there’s a good chance Holden Arboretum will fit that picture. Now, take that perfect park up a notch, and continue deeper into the woods till you find the Murch Canopy Walk and Kalberer Emergent Tower.
Recently completed, the Canopy Walk is an elevated walkway suspended as high as 65’ above the valley. This moving, swaying boardwalk allows folks to observe the foliage and wildlife from above, and has several viewing areas to stop for observation or photos. If the Canopy Walk isn’t adventurous enough, one can opt to climb the 120’ to the top of the Emergent Tower. Built of wood and intended to feel like climbing to the treetops, the tower twists and flows with the breeze- a bit disconcerting, especially for those (me!) less than thrilled with heights. The walk to the top is a bit taxing, but the view above the treeline is well worth the effort! On a good day, one looks out upon Little Mountain, Lake Erie, and, on a perfect day, as far as the skyline of Cleveland!
Admittedly, Holden Arboretum is a bit pricey for non- members (price as of this writing, including admission to the grounds and the structures, is $14 for adults, $6 for children 6 – 18, Free for children 5 and under), but there are few other places like it in the States. With plenty of outdoor tables, Holden Arboretum is a terrific place to bring a picnic and spend a day enjoying an education in a natural setting- or just appreciating the great outdoors. Well worth a visit!
Keep Riding Local, Dreaming Global – enjoy!