Lake Metroparks - Penitentiary Glen Reservation - Nature Center - Wildlife Center

Penitentiary Glen Reservation

8668 Kirtland-Chardon Road
Kirtland, OH 44094

Lon: 81° 19' 50.292" W
Lat: 41° 36' 44.673" N

Come explore an awesome display of nature featuring 424 acres of forest, fields, wetlands, and over 8.5 miles of hiking trails.

Designated by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife as a 'Watchable Wildlife' site.

Nature Center
9 am to 5 pm • 440-256-1404

Wildlife Center
9 am to 5 pm • 440-256-1404 x2131

Park Amenities

Accessible facilities, picnic area with grills, All People's Trail, drinking water, restrooms, hiking trails, cross-country skiing, Nature Center, Wildlife Center, The Nature Store gift shop and a bridle trail.


Take I-90 to Rt. 306 south for about one mile. Turn left onto Rt. 615. Turn right (east) onto Kirtland-Chardon Road and continue for two miles. Penitentiary Glen Reservation is located on the right (south) side of the road.

Shelter Rental
Call the Lake Metroparks Registration Department at 440-358-7275.

Nature Center

Discover the sights and sounds of wildlife at the interactive Nature Calls exhibit. Watch and listen to birds and other wildlife through the award-winning "Window on Wildlife.” Take home a gift from The Nature Store – your headquarters for bird feeders, t-shirts, field guides, toys, and children’s books.

Nature Center: 9 am to 5 pm
Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas

The Nature Store: 9 am to 5 pm


Free daily admission.


The Nature Center is a great place for seminars, showers, reunions, holiday gatherings, and meetings. For more information, call Lake Metroparks Development & Corporate Services at 440-639-7275 x1913.

The Nature Store

“In nature all things are unique and so is our store”

Nature Store Gift Shop at Penitentiary Glen Nature CenterThe Nature Store is here to inspire, nurture and educate visitors through its unique selection of nature-related merchandise for children and adults.

9 am to 5 pm daily

Gift ideas

  • Regional field guides, “how-to” and nature books for people of all ages.      
  • Educational toys, games, discovery kits and hand puppets.
  • Nature-themed gift items, jewelry, stationary & apparel.
  • Accessories for the garden & field; bird feeders, wildlife homes, bat houses, walking sticks & compasses.
  • Vortex optics featuring Audubon and Stokes binoculars for adults and children.  
  • Locally produced honey and maple syrup when in-season.
  • Lake Metroparks/Penitentiary Glen merchandise including: mugs, pins, patches, magnets and apparel.

Other information

  • 440-256-1404 x2128
  • Visa, MasterCard & Discover accepted
  • Lake Metroparks Gift Cards available

The Nature Store at Penitentiary Glen supports Lake Metroparks mission of conservation, education, and stewardship.

Wildlife Center

Kevin P. Clinton Wildlife CenterThe Wildlife Center is home to 25 animal ambassadors ranging from reptiles, mammals, to a variety of birds of prey. These animals assist the staff in educating the public, groups, and students about wildlife issues and conservation.

Get an up-close look at all of our amazing ambassadors in our Wildlife Center Yard!
Open 9 am to 5 pm daily. Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas

Note: The Wildlife Center's phone number is now 440-256-1404 x2131.

Naturally fun seasonal programs and special events
Fall nature programs (September through November 2014)
Certain programs and evening events and require registration and/or fee.

Download flyerRegister

2014 Events Schedule

FREE Special Events

Lessons Learned…the Legacy of the Passenger Pigeon
Penitentiary Glen Reservation
September 28, 2014 • Noon to 4 pm

Can you imagine a flock of a million birds, darkening the sky for days? This September marks the 100th anniversary of the extinction of the passenger pigeon. Join us for a free afternoon of family-friendly activities that celebrate the legacy of this bird.

FREE Art Shows

Fall Art Show - Nature of Art from Three Perspectives
August 23 through October 12, 2014 • FREE • 9 am to 5 pm

Open through October 12, 2014 • FREE • 9 am to 5 pm

Discover the nature of art from a feminine perspective in this multi-media show featuring Jaymi Zents, Britta Franz and Lisa Ruschman; three talented local artists, each with her own unique interpretation of the world around us. This show is a journey of creative expression you won’t want to miss.
Select artwork is available for purchase.

FREE Nature Center Open Houses

Autumn Open House
Penitentiary Glen Reservation
October 5, 2014 • FREE • Noon to 4 pm

Enjoy the sights, smells and tastes of autumn in Northeast Ohio. Journey through fall colors on miniature steam trains, 1 to 3 pm weather permitting, get creative with a craft, learn how wildlife prepares for the coming season and hike one of the many park trails. The Nature Store will be open.

FREE Concerts ‘n More at the Glen:

A Summer Evening Entertainment Series

Enjoy a summer evening surrounded by nature at Penitentiary Glen Reservation’s outdoor amphitheater. Bring a lawn chair. Snacks and beverages are available for purchase. Indoor facilities are available in case of inclement weather. Alcoholic beverages permitted on site for the concerts and Shakespeare Festival only. Free admission. No registration necessary.

Concert: Boy = Girl (Paul Kovac & Jen Maurer)
Bluegrass to traditional Americana music
Friday, September 19 • 7 to 8:30 pm

The Nature Center and Wildlife Center yard will be open during these performances. Visit native Ohio wildlife ambassadors in the Wildlife Center yard. Watch and listen to birds and other wildlife through the award-winning “Window on Wildlife.” Also open will be The Nature store with snacks, beverages, and nature-related gift items for sale.

While at the park, take a hike on more than 8.5 miles of trails. Park is open 6 am to 11 pm. year-round.

Special Programs


FREE Train Rides

Miniature steam-powered engines pull passengers through the woodlands of Penitentiary Glen Reservation to the rim of the gorge. Trains sometimes run in conjunction with a special event. The railroad is operated by the Lake Shore Live Steamers Club.

Lake Shore Live SteamersRides run 1 to 3 pm, weather permitting, on the following Sundays in 2014:

  • September 28 (Legacy of the passenger pigeon)
  • October 5 (Fall open house)
  • December 6

Safety Rules for the Glen Meadow & Orchard Railroad

NOTE: Some of our trains are steam powered and emit smoke, soot and cinders which add to the experience. As an alternative, guests may ask to wait and be placed on a non-steam powered train.

For your safety, please...

  • Children ages 10 and younger must be accompanied by an adult.
  • All passengers must be seated in a designated seat.
  • Pregnant women are not permitted to ride the trains.
  • Remain seated and facing forward with hands & feet inside train.
  • Sit still and do not lean.
  • Photography and videotaping are prohibited.
  • Follow instructions of railroad crew at all times.
  • Boarding may be denied any person due to safety reasons.
  • Any unsafe action or violation of above regulations may result in
    removal from train.

Thank you for your cooperation and have a pleasant journey.
All engineers and train crews operate under strict safety rules.

X-Plorer Packs

Sign out an X-Plorer pack and use the tools inside to identify birds, plants, insects, and more. Plus you get to fill out and keep your own nature journal!Want to learn more about what can be found at Penitentiary Glen Reservation?

Sign out an X-Plorer pack and use the tools inside to identify birds, plants, insects, and more. Plus you get to fill out and keep your own nature journal!

The tools, activities and journal change seasonally.

What a great way to spend a day with your family, scout group or class!!

For more information, please call the front desk at 440-256-1404.

  • ID required for borrowing packs.
  • No registration necessary
  • X-Plorer Packs are available on a first-come, first served basis.

The Gorge

How the gorge got its name

Penitentiary Glen is known for the deep gorge that divides the park in two. Settlers in the early 1880s called the gorge "Penitentiary Glen," because it was difficult to get out of the deepest part, much like a prison or penitentiary. (Imagine trying to climb straight up a 100 ft. wall!) The gorge is a sensitive area and has restricted access because of its steep walls, exposed rock, and fragile vegetation. Naturalists lead guided hikes throughout the year. Ask staff in the Nature Center about our hikes or call the Registration Department at 440-358-7275.

Gorge Hikes

The great gorge that gives Penitentiary Gully its name is always a magical place to hike on a summer afternoon. Be prepared to walk in the creek bed with your naturalist guide. Shoes that you don't mind getting wet are a must! The place is leisurely, but the terrain is rough.

Come and explore this unique place that is not normally open to the public. Instructor: Volunteer Guides and Pat Morse.

Call the Registration Department at 440-358-7275 for dates and more information.

Park History

In 1912, the Halle family, owners of the Halle Bros. Co. in Cleveland, bought this property for their summer estate and working farm. The farm was managed by the Burnett family, who lived here year-round. The only remaining structure is the horse barn, which now houses the Nature Center. Wise use of the land has preserved this special area for today and the future.

The Halles' lifestyle was typical of many wealthy Cleveland families who lived in the city and spent summers in the country. Sam and Blanche Halle had a deep respect for nature and wanted their children to have the same. They hired Maude Doolittle, a school teacher from Massachusetts who loved nature, as a governess for the children during the summer months.


The horse barn at Hallefarm, circa 1930sA professionally designed and installed educational interactive exhibit highlighting the ‘hey-days” of Hallefarm and demonstrates land use changes over time.  This new exhibit explores the Halle family summer estate from historic local agricultural trends, to the present day 400 acre natural area preserved by Lake Metroparks. 

The rich heritage of the Halle family while present on the property will be featured along with that of the Burnett family, caretakers of the estate.

The Hallefarm exhibit includes:

  • A large photo album with over thirty early black and white photographs of Hallefarm.
  • Ten touch boxes featuring artifacts from Hallefarm, i.e. Ann Halle’s spats, a draft horse shoe, hay hooks, and ice tongs.
  • Large aerial photographs showing land use patterns over time.
  • An interactive computer kiosk featuring past and current photos, audio and video. Visitors will be able to compare “then” and “now”.
  • Exhibit counter tops with Corinthian capital bases, replicas from the cottage site.
  • A companion map/trail guide offer a self-guided tour down memory lane featuring twelve stations along the Hallefarm trail with information about the history of the property.
    • Stations include The Horse Barn (now the Nature Center), Apple orchard (Miniature Railroad), Rose Garden (Wildflower Garden), Swimming pool (Stoney Brook), and the Tack Room (Heritage Library)
  • Hallefarm will be a permanent addition to the interactive exhibits at The Nature Center. Admission is free to all ages. 


Clubs that meet at Penitentiary Glen Nature Center

Blackbrook Audubon Society

Lake Shore Live Steamers

Western Reserve Photographic Society

Biological Diversity of Ohio

Ohio Ornithological Society

Northern Ohio Assoc of Herpetologists

Ohio Mushroom Society

Ohio Odonata Society

Spiders in Ohio

ODNR Division of Natural Areas and Preserves

ODNR Division of Wildlife

General Nature


Wildlife Center


Buckeye Trail Association


Penitentiary Glen Reservation offers over 8.5 miles of trails with varying terrain and difficulty. Experience the Peppermint Trail, a quarter-mile loop that is just right for beginners and families and includes a complimentary peppermint stick for all.

For current conditions at Penitentiary Glen Reservation, call the Nature Center at 440-256-1404 (9 am to 5 pm daily).

  • Snowshoeing at Penitentiary Glen ReservationSnow accumulation and conditions will determine snowshoe rental availability.
  • Snowshoe Lodge in the Nature Center. Come in to relax and enjoy a cup of steaming hot chocolate, coffee or tea.
  • Snowshoe rentals are available 9 am to 4 pm daily beginning early November through early March on an hourly and daily basis (weather dependent).
  • Rentals are available on a first-come basis and cannot be reserved; rentals end one hour before closing.
  • Rentals on Christmas Eve and New Years Eve are from 9 am to 3 pm and the Nature Center is closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
  • For more information or availability, call

Rental Fees:

Ages Snowshoes
  per hour per day
Adult (13 years & older) $3 $12
Youth (12 years & younger) $1.50 $6