Hit the Trails

July 17, 2014
Biking and Trails

So, you've made your way to Cleveland and now you're in search of a great place for your morning run. Or, you're in town to experience the city aboard your bike. But, you're not interested in a run-of-the-mill experience - you want those hidden gems that the locals cherish (and often keep to themselves).

Today's your lucky day, my friend.

We've compiled some of our favorite running and biking trails in Cleveland, Ohio:

Edgewater Beach

If there's one place in Cleveland that will topple your expectations, it's Edgewater Beach at the Lakefront Reservation.

Recently 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 new ownership, the park 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, swimming, windsurfing, 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 it's 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 Canal Towpath Trail

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 Canal Towpath Trail (or simply "The Towpath") takes visitors on an 84-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, retail and all that nature in Northeast Ohio has to offer.

Many folks opt to join the trail within the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, which is an astounding attraction within itself. While the path picks up in various locations within the national park, many find that the central location of Independence, Ohio is a perfect start (the entrance around Rockside Road is also where the Towpath transitions with the Cleveland Metroparks).

What's even better about traveling 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 $3 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

Ask avid runners in Cleveland where to take a jog, and you'll be hard pressed to find one who DOESN'T include Rocky River Reservation 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 runs and play music, you'll be happy to have it handy for the unfortunate (or shall we say "fortunate") number of photogenic distractions. Traveling along Rocky River, you'll see the massive shale cliffs, huge sycamore trees, numerous bird species and - if you're quiet enough - white-tailed deer.

Other trails perfect for running and biking...

Within the Cleveland Metroparks alone, there are 16 paved bike trails. There are also hundreds of acres of hiking and walking trails. Some of our other favorites include:

Ohio & Erie Canal Reservation Mountain Bike Trail: This two-mile one-directional trail is designed for intermediate-level riders of mountain bikes. It also includes a quarter-mile loop for beginner-level riders, as well.  

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.

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