Urban hiking was born during an inspiring moment by a man in Los Angeles. Several times a week he drove forty minutes to walk wooded trails. One day in frustrating LA traffic, he asked himself, why don’t I just walk in the city instead? He took to the streets, trekking through alleys, up and down staircases, on sidewalks, on trails, on roads. This daily cardio routine is how urban hiking was born.
Mr. LA hiker found the juxtaposition of landscapes intriguing as he strolled through green areas and abandoned infrastructure, rivers, and rusted railways, city parks followed by bricks and steel..
My friends, we are living in a city with all of the ingredients for a perfect urban hike. The Cleveland landscape is bursting with diversity. We have sports arenas, forgotten steel yards, revitalized bridges, revitalized neighborhoods and historical landmarks. Among all of that lies a heavy dose of green space, community gardens, and a stunning lake! Luckily, our city planners have taken notice of the potential and provided several urban hiking trails just waiting to be explored.
The Lake-Link Trail is a Cinderella story at its finest. This path is part of the ongoing Towpath Trail extension. Lake-Link occupies 1.3 miles of the west bank of the flats. The Cleveland Metroparks transformed this piece of property from a literal dump with swampy features into a breathtaking urban hiking destination.
Lake-Link features river views near Merwin’s Wharf, a modest cafe with outdoor seating. After you catch a glimpse of the Cleveland rowing team practicing on the water, you will pass under the historic Superior Viaduct bridge. I should specify, this portion of Towpath is on the shorter side, with the entire trail will soon reach 101 miles through Cuyahoga, Summit, Stark, and Tuscarawas counties.
The Lakefront Bikeway stretches nearly 20-miles along our city’s greatest asset – Lake Erie. This path does not take sides in the great east vs. west battle; all have access from Euclid to Lakewood. Through connecting trails, it even reaches into University Circle and the heart of downtown.
Walkers and joggers are welcome on the trail, in addition to bikers. Be warned, as with all urban hiking, there are unexpected detours and creative throughways, but all with excellent signage. The bulk of the shoreline path is wide and paved allowing you to glance at boaters and seagulls while burning calories. And with any urban hike, make sure you bring plenty of water to stay hydrated.
Although I did not know it at the time, I have driven along the Harrison Dillard Bikeway dozens of times; and I bet that you have, too. This 3-mile cement path runs parallel to Rockefeller Park on Martin Luther King Jr. drive.
In addition to being one of the most scenic areas in Cleveland, the bikeway is functional. This urban hiking trail leads to the cultural heart of University Hts – Wade Oval. With the additions of the Lakefront Bikeway, this also provides a route from the lake to Case Western Reserve University.
Want to see the tallest waterfall in Cuyahoga County? Venture out into Mill Creek, and the Morgana Run Trail will take you there (don’t worry, you can walk). Morgana is an easy 2-mile trek that starts at Broadway/Ackley Avenues or Broadway/Miles. Look for the giant purple weed sculpture and you will know you are in the right place! It’s easily one of the most scenic urban hiking destinations the city has to offer.
Ohio City and Edgewater are neighborhoods that have been on the rise over the last couple years. Now the two spots are so HOT that they had to be connected by a bike trail. Take in the refreshing lake breeze as you explore everything this urban hiking trail has to offer.
All paths lead to Edgewater, and Westshore Way is no exception. This new trail meanders from Ohio City to Edgewater in 2.5 enjoyable miles. I am told that Hingetown Coffee is a necessary stop along the route – cheers!
Cleveland is just the type of city for a trend like urban hiking to thrive, I anticipate that more paths will pop up as we continue to grow but, for now – these five should keep us busy for a while!
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