Ditch the Hotel Gym
Running and Bicycling Trails Throughout Cleveland
By Lexi Hotchkiss, Image by Larry Highbaugh Jr.
Want the ultimate buzzkill? Then, head to your hotel gym for a mind-numbing workout on a stationary bike or treadmill.
But, if you're jonesing for a fitness jolt that's as unique as the destination you're visiting, Cleveland's the place. We know you're not interested in a run-of-the-mill experience, so pack your gear and head to one of these loved-by-locals trails in the Cleveland region.
If there's one place in Cleveland that will topple your expectations, it's Edgewater Beach at the Lakefront Reservation.
Acquired by the Cleveland Metroparks, Edgewater Beach is one of those places that out-of-towners - whether the outdoorsy type or not - must experience. As the name suggests, the park is located on Lake Erie about three miles west of Downtown Cleveland (6500 Cleveland Memorial Shoreway).
Since it's come under the ownership of Cleveland's beloved park system, Edgewater underwent a series of safety and aesthetic improvements that has transformed it into a beautiful escape from the city, while providing a rather incredible skyline shot of Cleveland.
During warm-weather months, you'll find locals and visitors at Edgewater soaking up the sun on the 900-foot swimming beach, kite-flying throughout the huge park, fishing along the 200-foot pier, tipping back a few craft beers in the beach house, swimming, boating, picnicking and, of course, running and biking.
The paved trail is a part of the 17-mile Cleveland Lakefront Bikeway. But, if you're looking to stay within the confines of the park, you'll do just as well. The park offers trails connecting both its lower and upper levels - each offering stunning views of Lake Erie.
Added bonus: On Thursday nights throughout the summertime, experience Edgewater LIVE, a refreshing new take on happy hour with food trucks, live music, summer beverages and gorgeous Lake Erie sunsets.
The Ohio & Erie Canalway Towpath Trail
Image by Cody York
A nearly 100-mile trail - perfect for biking and jogging - just minutes from a major U.S. city? Cleveland has it.
Traveling north to south, The Ohio & Erie Canalway Towpath Trail (or simply "The Towpath") takes visitors on an 87-mile journey through the park systems in the counties of Cuyahoga, Summit, Stark and Tuscarawas.
Along the trail, you'll find historic buildings, museums, niche little villages, restaurants, pubs, incredible wildlife and Insta-worthy natural landscapes.
Many folks opt to join the trail within the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, which is a captivating attraction within itself. While the path picks up in various locations within the national park, many find that the central location in the town of Independence, is a perfect start (the entrance around Rockside Road is also where the Towpath transitions with the Cleveland Metroparks).
What's even better about bicycling through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park is that riders can bike in one direction and then head back aboard the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. This vintage railroad runs through the park and charges only $5 per person with a bike as part of their "Bike Aboard!" program.
So, how'd we get so lucky with all this natural green space? The Towpath is built along a former canal that was built between 1825 and 1832 to transport goods between Cleveland (where goods came in through Lake Erie) and Portsmouth, Ohio along the Ohio River.
Rocky River Reservation
Image by Cody York
Ask avid runners in Cleveland where to take a jog, and you'll be hard pressed to find one who DOESN'T include the Rocky River Reservation All-Purpose Trail on their list.
Owned by the Cleveland Metroparks and spanning through eight communities, Rocky River Reservation offers close proximity to downtown Cleveland and is still far enough away to feel totally immersed in nature.
While the reservation has more than a dozen hiking and walking trails, Rocky River Reservation also plays host to a beautiful 13.6-mile paved, all-purpose trail perfect for cyclists and runners.
And, while we know you use your smartphone to religiously track your activity and play tunes, you'll be happy to have it handy for the unfortunate (or shall we say "fortunate") number of photogenic distractions - like the massive shale cliffs, huge sycamore trees, numerous bird species and - if you're quiet enough - white-tailed deer.
Other trails ...
Within the Cleveland Metroparks alone, there are more than 100 miles of shared-use, paved trails perfect for cycling and jogging. Some of our other favorites include:
Cleveland Metroparks Mountain Biking Trails: Whether you're a beginner looking for a short half-mile loop or an intermediate-level rider just wanting to off-road it, the Cleveland Metroparks offers three distinct mountain bike trails.
Lake to Lake Trail: A rather scenic paved bike trail exists within the Big Creek Reservation. The 2.4-mile trail and boardwalk connects between Lake Isaac and Lake Abram.
NEOCycle: A Biking & Beach Party
Want to experience the nation's largest urban cycling fest featuring a velodrome race, cyclocross, fundo and even a night ride? Register now for NEOCycle happening Sept. 7-9.
But it's not all padded bike shorts and helmet hair. After you're done burning all those calories, head straight to Edgewater Beach for a NEOCycle beach party with bands and beer. Get going here.