Clarence Darrow MetroPark
Clarence Darrow MetroPark is a popular recreation spot located across from the Kent State University Trumbull Campus in Champion Township. The park exhibits a surprisingly diverse landscape ranging from grassy fields and rolling hills to wooded flatland and deep stream banks, leaving several little environments to explore and study. Visitors to the park will find forested walking trails, stream side park benches, the Young’s Run 18-hole disc golf course, open lawns, and picnic areas with grills. Wildlife abounds throughout the park, from small aquatic animals at the stream’s edge to woodland creatures. The park is also a home and foraging ground for a rich variety of bird species, making the site a favorite location for the annual Trumbull County’s Audubon Christmas Bird Count. The park is particularly popular with disc golfers, bicyclists seeking to utilize the Western Reserve Greenway located about one mile northeast of the park, and birdwatchers.
The eastern portion of the park, which features a 32-space parking lot, hosts the starting disc golf tee for the Young’s Run Disc Golf Course. Located nearby are two picnic tables, a park kiosk, and a Young’s Run Disc Golf Course message board.
The park’s neighbors include Fairhaven School for the Developmentally Disabled, Delphi Corporation’s Engineering Division, a residential subdivision, and Kent State University’s Trumbull Campus. Additional residential communities, the Western Reserve Greenway, and a traditional golf course exist nearby. Many development proposals have recently surfaced for the general area, including a research and industrial park, Phase III of the Western Reserve Greenway, and Kent State University’s Health and Wellness Center, which would be located immediately south of the park. Moreover, new roads to connect the area to an industrial park south of the Warren Bypass and to Park Avenue are possible.
Clarence Darrow MetroPark is among the oldest parks in MetroParks’ inventory of leased and owned properties. Although MetroParks did not effectively acquire Clarence Darrow until 1984, the park district worked with a variety of other county agencies to maintain and develop the site into what it has become. According to the park’s recorded deed, the eastern portion of Clarence Darrow was originally acquired by the Trumbull County Commissioners in 1837 and made part of the Trumbull County Infirmary Farm. The eastern portion of the property had been known as the North Warren Heights Townsite. Throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s, Champion Township developed into a suburb of Warren, the Warren Bypass was constructed, and Kent State University constructed a regional campus immediately south of the site. In the wake of such development, there was interest in creating a park nearby the university campus, as indicated by correspondence from the University to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) in 1968. The Trumbull County Commissioners, through a Land and Water Conservation Grant offered by ODNR, purchased the property’s eastern portion of the park in the 1970’s in order to establish a park. Clarence Darrow was officially dedicated as a county park in 1975 when the Trumbull County Commissioners placed the 50 acre property under the supervision of the Metropolitan Park Board with the intention of creating nature trails and opportunities for recreation. It was the second park managed by MetroParks, the first being Anderson Park which was later sold by the park district to Lordstown Township (now a village), and the oldest in its current inventory of leased and owned properties. It was also the first memorial in the county to defense attorney Clarence Darrow, a native of Kinsman Township who went on to defend a high school biology teacher in the Scopes Monkey Trial in 1925, the result of which worked toward disallowing prohibitions against teaching evolution in schools.
In 1981 the Trumbull County Commissioners leased Clarence Darrow to MetroParks so that the park district could utilize license tax revenues from Ohio’s Park District Highway Fund to build a 10-car parking lot west of Young’s Run. In 1984 MetroParks received full ownership of Clarence Darrow when the county commissioners signed a real estate deed to donate the approximately 28 acres of parkland. By that time, the remainder of the original 50 acres had been utilized or reserved for other county projects. Plans for MetroParks spanned from preserving the land as a field laboratory along Young’s Run to creating a recreation area equipped with restrooms and from building a large museum and to constructing an outdoor amphitheatre along the eastern end of the park. Overtime, however, nature trails were built along Young’s Run, and benches were set in place to allow visitors a place to relax and watch the park’s abundant wildlife.
In 1992 a Trumbull County resident submitted a proposal for a frisbee golf course at Clarence Darrow. Frisbee golf, or disc golf, had been a popular sport for decades prior and was played similarly to golf with discs in place of balls. As disc golf was a low-impact and low-cost sport, it was a natural addition to the park. In 1995, MetroParks wrote a successful NatureWorks Grant to attain funds to install 12 disc golf baskets and accompanying tee cement pads throughout the eastern end of the park. The Trumbull County Commissioners also granted MetroParks an easement to use approximately four acres of adjacent meadowlands for part of the course. Later, an additional two disc-golf baskets were purchased for the area west of Young’s Run, and a bag book guide was printed to promote the course. Most recently in order to provide space to accommodate a possible dog park along the park’s western end, the Trumbull County Commissioners donated to MetroParks the four acres of meadow adjacent from the park’s eastern boundary.
Clarence Darrow remains one of MetroParks’ most visited parks, attracting nature watchers and disc golfers throughout the year. Disc golf, of course, is the park’s most popular feature, as evident by the weekly disc golf events and games held nearly every weekend throughout the year. There are many opportunities for regional and state tournaments at the site, particularly when used in combination with the newly constructed nine-hole disc golf course at the adjacent Kent State University Trumbull Campus.
Disc golf is played similarly to golf, only with the use of discs in lieu of a ball and baskets instead of holes, although the baskets themselves are often referred to as “holes” and the starting points, which may be a simple marker or cement pad, as “tees.” Players throw discs toward the golf holes, attempting to make as few throws as possible before reaching the destination. Disc golfers may select from many types of discs at any time while playing a disc golf hole. A driver, generally flat and designed to travel long distances, is typically the first type of disc used when tackling a new disc golf hole. Mid-range discs tend to be thicker than drivers, offer a bit more control to the user, and are best used for moderate-throwing distances. The bulkier putters are designed for short tosses, offering better maneuverability in place of distance.
Clarence Darrow features one of the MetroParks’ two maintenance garages and also provides a portable lavatory year-round for visitors. The park is dotted with park benches as well as picnic areas with tables and cooking grills. With the help of Youth Build, a kiosk was installed at the park in early 2008. The message board near the western end of the main parking area will offer disc golfers and other members of the public a place to post notices for special events.
A 75 person Pavilion was built on site for use by the disc golfers and visitors alike. Events that have taken place there have ranged from Birthday Parties to Disc Golf Events. If you would like to reserve this pavilion please follow this link and fill out the form and send to the address on the form.