About Paine Falls
Paine Falls was a very attractive wide waterfall that seemed to be tailor made for seeing it with fall colors as you can see in the photo at the top of this page. Indeed despite its modest size, where Paine Creek dropped some 25ft over a pair of sloping tiers fanning out to nearly 80ft, the foliage surrounding the waterfall was what made this experience memorable. It was kind of our introduction to the Metroparks system, which were surprisingly beautiful pockets of Nature near the greater Cleveland area. During our visit in Autumn 2015, the falls seemed to have exhibited a pretty healthy flow. I’m not sure if this waterfall would have year-round flow, but we did know that it had rained quite a bit on the day before our visit. Its highest flow typically would occur in the late Spring and early Summer months when the snow and ice from the bitterly cold Winters around the Great Lakes would thaw.
Paine Falls was very easy for us to visit as a short set of steps from the car park (see directions below) led down to a viewing platform where we were able to peer through an opening in the foliage looking right at the attractive falls backed by a road bridge (i.e. Paine Road). It only took Julie, Tahia, and I a half-hour away from the car to take it all in, and most of that time was spent taking photos as maybe less than 5 minutes were spent walking. Perhaps the only thing that reminded us that we were still close to urban developments was the noisy I-90 freeway next door to the park. Another thing that we noticed was that the restroom facility also doubled as a tornado shelter as apparently tornados can occur in this region.
A sign at the picnic area next to the car park said that this park and waterfall was named after Colonel Hendrick Paine who was the founder of the nearby Painesville. They settled into the valley containing this falls in 1818 where it was known as “Paine’s Hollow.” Apparently Paine and some relatives began several industrial developments in the Hollow aided by the water power from this waterfall. The activity was said to have peaked in the 1840s then declined in 1850 after the lumber supply was depleted and water power was trumped by other forms of energy (most likely fossil fuels). This park was only dedicated as a public park under the Lake Metroparks system in 1974 after nearly a century of neglect, but the falls and surrounding area seemed to have recovered nicely in the 40+ years since.
We visited Paine Falls as one of a handful of waterfalling day excursions from the city of Cleveland so we’ll describe our route from there. Given its proximity to the interstate, I’m sure there are many other ways to get here, but we’ll just focus on what we’ve done.
From downtown Cleveland, we took Superior Ave east for about 1.2 miles to the I-90. We then headed east on the I-90 for about 32 miles to the Vrooman Road exit. We then turned right onto Vrooman Road and went south for about 0.5 miles. Then, we turned left onto Carter Road, which we took for the next 1.7 miles. At the next junction, we turned left onto Paine Road and followed it for the next 1/2-mile (going past what appeared to be a handful of farms) to the signposted Paine Falls Park, which was on the left right after the bridge above the falls and right before the I-90 overpass. This drive took us about 45 minutes.
For some additional geographical context, Cleveland, Ohio was 39 miles (under an hour drive) north of Akron, Ohio, 169 miles (over 2.5 hours drive) south and east of Detroit, Michigan, 133 miles (over 2 hours drive) northwest of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and 142 miles (over 2 hours drive) north of Columbus, Ohio.
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