Photo courtesy of Metro Parks Serving Summit County.
SUMMIT COUNTY -- It was a record year for Metro Parks in Summit County with nearly 5.4 million visits in 2012, marking the third straight year with attendance in excess of 5 million.
According to park officials, attendance figures include visitation at 14 parks, the paved 34-mile Bike & Hike trail, 22.4 miles of the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail and the visitor's center at F.A. Seiberling Nature Realm.
The most-visited area was Sand Run Metro Park in Akron, which brought in more than 2 million people.
The numbers are tallied from traffic counts, pavilion and shelter reservations, event participation, swim pass sales at two parks and attendance estimates from special-use permits for non-park events, like cross-country meets.
Spokesperson Nathan Eppink said visitors who arrive on foot have never been accurately counted, but new trail counters began tallying people entering the Metro Parks via walk-in points and "wildcat trails," or unofficial paths.
Metro Parks, Serving Summit County manages 11,000 acres, including 14 developed parks, several conservation areas and more than 125 miles of trails, with 22.4 miles of the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail.