Let’s face it: Cleveland has had some rough years. From the weakening of the steel industry to having a decades long championship drought, we’ve been the punching bag for comedians, media, and most of the country. Well, that’s changing.
Cleveland has many great attractions and amenities to offer, including: a number of restaurants owned by nationally renowned chefs, a free art museum which boasts works from some of history’s greatest artists, a world-renowned orchestra, world renowned hospitals, multiple vibrant neighborhoods, a National Park a short drive away, a Great Lake that provides 2% of the water of the Great Lakes, but at least 50% of the fish, an almost 100 year park system nominated for the prestigious 2015 National Parks and Recreation Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management, and of course, we have LeBron and the rest of the Cavs, taking us to the finals, in what might be the closest we’ve come to a championship in a long time. Cleveland has definitely come back, which is why one of the best times to explore the city (and especially the Cleveland Metroparks) is now. And when I say explore, I really mean explore. Go visit ALL of our parks – yes, that means crossing over the river occasionally.
East Side vs. West Side
I grew up on a suburb on the East Side and as such my family routinely visited North and South Chagrin, and a few of the other East Side reservations. If we ever went to Rocky River or another reservation on the West Side, it was perhaps once. So we enjoyed “our” parks, until I left for college. I was excited to move somewhere new, and experience new and amazing local parks elsewhere. I admit, I was foolishly naive. I grew up with Cleveland Metroparks, and believed that every city must have an equally amazing park system. It didn’t take me long to dispel that myth. While Cleveland had its faults, its park system was certainly the exception. When I returned to Cleveland, and was employed by Cleveland Metroparks, I began my journey to explore all of the parks – every nook and cranny of them (on the trails, of course). I began to ask my co-workers and volunteers their favorite parks and trails. Working at West Creek Reservation, we have quite a few west-siders who work or volunteer here, so I heard many people talk about the Rocky River Reservation. When I asked about their favorite places in the North Chagrin Reservation I was shocked to learn that quite a few of them had never been. But surely they’ve been at least to the nature center, or to Squire’s Castle – arguably some of the major draws to the North Chagrin Reservation? They had not. It turns out my family wasn’t the exception: we were the rule.
Completing the Emerald Necklace
There are so many great parks and trails within Cleveland Metroparks that it’s difficult to choose a favorite – although I’m sure we all have one. My hope though, is that everyone will take the opportunity to explore more of the parks, and discover new favorites – make that decision a little bit more difficult.
Explore the Lake to Lake Trail boardwalk in Big Creek Reservation:
Take in the majesty of the Great Falls of Tinkers Creek at Viaduct Park in Bedford Reservation: