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URBAN TRAILS & OFF-ROAD ROUTES: CLEVELAND’S BEST RUNNING SPOTS

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Steve Degyansky

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If you’re a runner, Cleveland has a lot to offer.

Come on, admit it — we have the perfect mix of urban places and green spaces, offering us runners more paved paths, rail trails, and off-road routes than we can possibly keep track of.

Of course, you don’t have to memorize them; leave that part to us. We’re here with the low down on the best spots for your next run.

Alright, we’re starting off this list with a monster — we’re talking about 85 miles of paved trails, ready and waiting for you. What’s that, you can’t run 85 miles? Well, no one said you had to. You could channel your inner Forrest Gump (run, Forrest!) and tackle the whole trail. But if you think that sounds a little crazy, hit the trail to run as fast and as far as you’d like. Do so by accessing the Towpath at any one of the 50+ trailheads throughout Northeast Ohio.

The Cleveland Lakefront Bikeway might have been made to make bikers’ lives easier, but it’s also a great spot to go for a run. The path travels 17 miles along the beautiful shoreline (from Euclid to Lakewood). Pass through some of Cleveland’s favorite neighborhoods (like Collinwood) and give a little wave as you cruise by the Browns’s stadium and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Obviously, there’s plenty to see on this path — all you gotta do is lace up those sneaks.

A lot of people forget about Rockefeller Park, and that’s a damn shame. This seven-mile trail will take you along MLK Dr. and Superior Ave., right near Case Western Reserve University (and all the fun things in University Circle). Run all morning before cooling down at a cafe or juice bar in University Circle.

Old train track turned trail? Check! This quick route is just over one mile, but gives runners scenic views of some of the best parts of Cleveland. Connecting to the popular Towpath trail, this trail also goes through the West Bank of the Flats, before ending at Wendy Park. One of Cleveland’s newest running paths, the Lake Link Trail also offer sights of Lake Erie and some of The Land’s historical industrial scene.

It’s not all food trucks and live music at Edgewater Park. There’s no shortage of running routes here, either. As a result, this spot is a go-to for runners of all kinds. No matter your experience or ability level, you’ll enjoy breaking a sweat just off the Shoreway. The convenient location isn’t far from downtown, and the lakefront trail and stunning green space will help you disconnect from your day to day.

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If you’re looking for a place to go long, you’ve found a winner in the Rocky River Reservation. Spanning eight communities, the reservation offers more than 13 miles of paved all-purpose trails, along with more than a dozen hiking and walking trails. Kick off your run at Emerald Necklace Marina and stay the course until you reach Strongsville at Bagley Rd. Of course, you could always head back at any point. Or, you could keep going strong, heading into Mill Stream Run Reservation once you make it to Strongsville. Whatever you do, just remember you’re going to have to turn around at some point.

When it comes to running routes, the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes delivers two in one. That’s two trails in one nature center. And those two trails happen to be nestled in and around six natural habitats, including a lake, a stream, a marsh, a field, a ravine, and a forest. Geez! That’s a lot to look forward to. Luckily, you can check it all out as you stride along the Stearns Trail. Or, you can log some steps on the All People’s Trail. Although these trails are on the shorter side, don’t let the distance fool you. The staircases around the woodland routes are an equalizer, creating one heck of a workout no matter how fit you are.

Here’s a trail that’s short and sweet. And it just might be one of the area’s best kept secrets. At minimum, this 2.1-mile trail through Broadway Slavic Village flies under some runners’ radar. Well, at least it used to! Now this rail trail, utilizing the former Wheeling & Lake Erie Rail line, connects you to Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath trail and to the Cleveland Metroparks Garfield Park Reservation. Whether you’re using the route to get a workout in or to travel about the neighborhood, you’ll enjoy the paved path and sights—like Mill Creek Waterfall—along the way.

Cross the Cuyahoga heading into Ohio City on Lorraine Ave., or run into downtown on Carnegie Ave. across the Hope Memorial Bridge. Clocking in at just over a mile, the over-and-back trip can be paired with a run around town or some additional exploring in OHC. No matter which way you run, don’t forget to look up while you’re on the bridge. When you do, you’ll see the “Guardians of Traffic.” These art deco sculptures rise 50ft into the air and have stood guard over the bridge since 1932. After passing the sculpture, turn your attention to some stellar views of Cleveland’s skyline.

A wetland and wildlife preserve? Oh yeah, count us in! But if you’re not convinced, how about dropping by for a run along any one of the trails among 300 plus acres of pure outdoor awesomeness. As if that wasn’t reason enough to stop by North Ridgeville’s Sandy Ridge, consider this: you might just see a bald eagle and other wildlife during your run. Yeah, now you’re definitely on board. And rightfully so. This spot doesn’t disappoint.

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Get Fitt delivered to your inbox.

Stay up to date on what’s happening in Cleveland’s health and fitness scene.