The Metro Parks Fall Hiking Spree, the largest and longest running event of its kind in the nation, kicks off later this month with a one-day sneak preview event, and then runs Sept. 1 to Nov. 30.

Get an early start on the 50th annual Fall Hiking Spree on Aug. 31 at five of the Metro Parks included in the first spree half a century ago. From noon to 3 p.m., a naturalist will be on hand and spree T-shirts will be for sale at Firestone Metro Park / Tuscarawas Meadows (2620 Harrington Rd., Akron). From 1 to 3 p.m., Metro Parks mascots will be at the following four locations: Deep Lock Quarry Metro Park (5779 Riverview Rd., Peninsula); Gorge Metro Park (1160 Front St., Cuyahoga Falls); Goodyear Heights Metro Park / Pioneer Area (550 Frazier Ave., Akron); Sand Run Metro Park / Wadsworth Area (1400 Sand Run Pkwy., Akron).

First-year hikers who complete at least eight designated trails will earn a hiking staff and shield. Veteran hikers will earn the hiking shield. Rewards are free to Summit County residents. Out-of-county residents pay to receive their awards ($10 for first-year hikers, $5 for veteran hikers).

Beginning Aug. 15 hiking forms will be available online at, the visitors center at F.A. Seiberling Nature Realm (1828 Smith Rd., Akron), the park district's administrative offices (975 Treaty Line Rd., Akron) and all Acme Fresh Market stores.

On average, more than 12,000 hikers complete the spree and earn rewards each year. Call 330-865-8065 for more information.