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Kent’s Hidden Wonder

Words by Matthew Merchant

Fred Fuller Park and The Portage Hike & Bike Path:

Kent, Portage County

For the power walker, cyclist, kid at heart, parent

In brief: This park is perfect for some quiet relaxation time, goofing around, acting like a kid and sledding hills when it snows.

For those who don’t know Kent, Fred Fuller Park is a hidden gem. Located right down the road from campus, the park is the largest within the city limits and offers plenty of fun opportunities for college students and families alike.

Fred Fuller Park clings to the banks of the mighty Cuyahoga River as it winds through the city, though in this park, the river just seems to be lazy. I find that Fred Fuller Park gives its visitors a sense of relaxation: it’s quiet, peaceful and enjoyable.

The park is known mostly for the Kramer Field Ball Field Complex, a set of four baseball fields used for youth and adult baseball and softball events throughout the year. This part of the park is so interesting because it sits on an island of sorts. It is surrounded on all sides by either the river or the local train tracks and can only be accessed by a narrow footbridge. I would recommend catching a game at one of the fields, but unfortunately, the bridge is under construction, and therefore, you can’t get to the other side. That is, unless you want to swim across.

When you get to the main area of the park, the first thing you will notice is the rolling, wooded landscape. Most of Fred Fuller’s 56-acre property consists of wooded area and hills, which are great for sledding in the winter months or mud sliding in the rain. Hidden amidst the hillsides are six picnic shelters, all equipped with charcoal stoves, and three playgrounds, each with unique elements for kids if they tag along. There are also fully accessible bathrooms, which are some of the nicest facilities as far as public parks go.

If you have kids, nieces or nephews, or if you just want to act like a little kid yourself, the playground might bring back some good memories. On top of the far hill is a large sandbox and an old, wooden playset. There is also the newer playground set with slides, robe swings and a climbing wall just a few yards down the hill. Either way, I recommend checking the playgrounds out and having some fun.

Fred Fuller Park also has a natural outdoor amphitheater, the Roy H. Smith Shelterhouse, a bowl in the hillside with a stage where the annual Art in the Park event is held. With the birds and crickets singing, it can almost feel as though the concert never ends.

A new section of the Portage Hike and Bike Trail runs alongside the park. Some of the pathway is paved, some is gravel and some is wood-decking. If you decide to go for a bike ride, this section of the trail is great. It’s peaceful and relaxing, and the scenic views of the river and old railroad tracks can’t be beat in Kent. There is a lot of history surrounding the trail, and I definitely recommend stopping to read the signage.

For more information on the park itself or any events that might be taking place there in the future, just stop next door to the parking lot. As it turns out, Fred Fuller Park is also home to the main office for Kent Parks and Recreation.

Recommended Equipment:

  • Tennis shoes
  • Bicycle
  • Sled (in winter)
  • Picnic supplies

Directions from Kent:

    Take Route 59 headed toward Stow.
    Take a left at Middlebury Road.
    Fred Fuller Park is on the left-hand side.
    There are several parking lots, so pick the one that best fits where you want to go.

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