The medieval English surrounded their castles with moats of water to ward off enemies. If anything, though, the ring of parks surrounding Cleveland, Ohio only serve to make the city more appealing, as if their beauty and serenity were beckoning outsiders to come closer. Spread out over 22,000 acres, the Metroparks system offers plenty of trails for Cleveland hikers to investigate. There are 16 different reservations in all, five of which encircle the citythe rest speckle the landscape around the ring.The Cleveland Metroparks were officially named before the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. In 1917, engineer William Stinchcomb achieved the first step toward his long-standing vision of an interconnected system of parks. This was when the General Assembly appointed a park board expressly for developing the new system. However, the buildup of the parks themselves was slowby 1930, 9,000 acres had been purchased across nine different sites, but they were not connected. By 1970, the board had purchased 16,000 acres. The park has grown 6,000 acres since then.Each of the sixteen reservations includes trails for hikers and bikers, with most offering cross-country skiing areas as well. The largest park, Brecksville, covers 3,494 acres, and includes seven gorges, the Squire Rich Historical Museum, and is also part of the National Audobon Society’s Bird Area Program. Next biggest is Mill Stream Run, which covers 3,189 acres. Visitors will find golf courses, sledding sites, and an education facility at this beautiful location. These two parks, together with Rocky River, Bedford, and South Chagrin, make up the Emerald Necklace.With such a large area, it’s almost impossible to ever uncover all of the Metroparks’ secrets. If you’re a local, make it a point to regularly visit the parks and discover something new. If you’re just visiting, make sure you don’t leave without stopping by at least one of the locations.