Rocky River (Ohio)

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Rocky River
Rocky River Lakewood Ohio.jpg
A shale cliff along the Rocky River in the Cleveland Metroparks Rocky River Reservation, located on the boundary of the cities of Lakewood and Rocky River, Ohio.
CountryUnited States of America
Physical characteristics
 ⁃ locationConfluence of East Branch Rocky River and West Branch Rocky River, between Cleveland and North Olmsted, Cuyahoga County, Ohio
 ⁃ coordinates41°24′23″N 81°53′14″W / 41.40639°N 81.88722°W / 41.40639; -81.88722
 ⁃ elevation657 feet (200 m) AMSL
 ⁃ location
Lake Erie between Lakewood and Rocky River, Cuyahoga County, Ohio
 ⁃ coordinates
41°29′28″N 81°50′21″W / 41.49111°N 81.83917°W / 41.49111; -81.83917Coordinates: 41°29′28″N 81°50′21″W / 41.49111°N 81.83917°W / 41.49111; -81.83917
 ⁃ elevation
571 feet (174 m) AMSL
Basin features
GNIS ID1066928
Aerial view, looking southerly, of the river's mouth and surrounding area of discharge into Lake Erie, in Rocky River. At top, the Clifton Park-West Lake Bridge carries U.S. Route 6 across the river. At center is a derrick boat operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which dredges the navigation channel and maintains the breakwater.
A bend in the Rocky River and adjoining riverbanks are seen in this photo taken from a bridge on the Cleveland-Rocky River border in the Rocky River Reservation.
Low water ford bridge over the East Branch Rocky River in the Millstream Reservation.

The Rocky River[1] is a relatively short river which forms the western boundaries of the cities of Cleveland and Lakewood, Ohio. The city of Rocky River, on the west bank bordering Lakewood, is named after the river. The Rocky River was ranked by Field & Stream as one of the top steelhead trout rivers in the world, and has also been featured on ESPN.


The river itself is formed by the confluence of the East and West Branches in North Olmsted at Cedar Point Hill (unrelated to the theme park of the same name north of Sandusky), just west of Cleveland-Hopkins International Airport.

The headwaters of the larger West Branch are predominantly located in Medina County, where the north and south branches merge to form the west branch and flows and northward through, among other locales, the town of Olmsted Falls. The East Branch first begins in the Cleveland suburb of North Royalton, near State Rd. and Wallings Rd. Flow here is actually to the south, through Richfield and Hinckley Townships. The East Branch wraps around Whipp's Ledges in Hinckley Township, and begins its north-northwest journey. Hinckley Lake is actually the East Branch Rocky, impounded in the late 1920s/early 1930s. On its course back through southwestern Cuyahoga County, the East Branch is an important local feature in the cities of Strongsville and Berea.

The lower portions of both branches and the mainstem Rocky River flow through a V-shaped valley; the valley and the river are part of the Cleveland Metroparks system. The Rocky River valley is heavily forested, and a parkway along the river provides access to many different activities available in the park. Given the heavy population density of Cleveland and its older suburbs, many of which border on the valley, the valley provides a popular location for recreational activities that would be difficult in other parts of the city.


The Rocky River is largely free from industrial pollution. This is because most of its sources are in agricultural and suburban areas, which results in natural organic pollution and sewage, resulting in higher bacteria levels than rivers downstream from industrial discharges.

Crossings and tributaries[edit]

The Rocky River valley is quite deep from the confluence of the East and West Branches at Cedar Point downstream to Lake Erie, at times approaching 150 feet (45.7 m) below the ground level on either side of the valley. This depth has required several high-level and low-level bridges to cross the valley between Lakewood and Rocky River and between Cleveland and Fairview Park.

Several of the low-level bridges which cross the river within the valley are subject to closure and flooding during and after heavy storms, but these low-level bridges are mostly used by local traffic on the Valley Parkway which follows Rocky River's course, and crossing it several times.

From north (mouth) upstream to south (source):

Crossings and tributaries of the Rocky River (Lake Erie)
West Channel Rocky River 1072305 41°29′11″N 81°50′7″W / 41.48639°N 81.83528°W / 41.48639; -81.83528 (West Channel Rocky River) 581 feet (177 m)
1800639 Clifton Park-West Lake 1964 1,139 feet (347.2 m) US 6.svg U.S. Route 6,
OH-2.svg Ohio State Route 2,
OH-254.svg Ohio State Route 254[2][3]
Nickel Plate Road Norfolk Southern Railway
1801074 Detroit Avenue 1073890 41°28′57″N 81°49′52″W / 41.48250°N 81.83111°W / 41.48250; -81.83111 (Detroit Avenue) 568 feet (173 m) 1980 640 feet (195.1 m) US 6A.svg U.S. Route 6A,
US 20.svg U.S. Route 20,
OH-113.svg Ohio State Route 113[2]
Valley Parkway
1808567 1971 839 feet (255.7 m) I-90.svg I-90
1830147 Hilliard Avenue 1925 860 feet (262.1 m) former US 20.svg U.S. Route 20,
Cuyahoga County Route 69
old Valley Parkway ford
Valley Parkway
Valley Parkway
1801325 Lorain Road 1935 1,230 feet (374.9 m) OH-10.svg Ohio State Route 10
Old Lorain Road
1831623 Puritas Road 1977 195 feet (59.4 m) Cuyahoga County Route 189
1812831 1970 1,571 feet (478.8 m) I-480.svg I-480
1802046 Brookpark Road 1933 1,919 feet (584.9 m) OH-17.svg Ohio State Route 17
Abram Creek 1037303 41°25′4″N 81°51′59″W / 41.41778°N 81.86639°W / 41.41778; -81.86639 (Abram Creek) 640 feet (200 m)
Valley Parkway
1830643 Cedar Point Road 1929 62 feet (18.9 m) Cuyahoga County Route 193
West Branch Rocky River 1067044 41°24′23″N 81°53′13″W / 41.40639°N 81.88694°W / 41.40639; -81.88694 (West Branch Rocky River) 659 feet (201 m)
East Branch Rocky River 1066697 41°24′22″N 81°53′14″W / 41.40611°N 81.88722°W / 41.40611; -81.88722 (East Branch Rocky River) 656 feet (200 m)

See also[edit]

Map all coordinates using: OpenStreetMap 
Download coordinates as: KML · GPX


  1. ^ United States Geological Survey Hydrological Unit Code: 04-11-00-01-[citation needed]
  2. ^ a b "Ohio State Route 2, see diagram on page 4 of 12" (PDF). Ohio Department of Transportation.
  3. ^ "Straight Line Diagrams". Ohio Department of Transportation.

External links[edit]