Make the Most of Your Cleveland Summer
There is almost nothing else in the world that gets me excited in the way that summer does when it starts to rear its head in our beautiful city. As a person who equally appreciates the outdoors from the perspective of activity as well as relaxation, on top of years of experiencing the place we call home in this way, I want to share my newest and most favorite experiences in the hopes that others will take advantage of the wealth of options at our doorstep.
As a perosn who has used a bicycle as a means of transportation (and of course enjoyment) over the years, I never saw the appeal of mountain biking until I was encouraged to attend a huge mountain bike festival in Raystown Lake, Pennsylvania four years ago. Unexpectedly, I found it to be one of the most enjoyable athletic experiences of my life. I can most closely associate it with the exhilirating feelings of the outdoors in my youth; you reach an almost euphoric physical experience. Since then, the sport has become a defining element of summer; as soon as the trails are dry enough, I get out there on my bike as often as possible.
Surprisingly, the greater Cleveland area offers a wide range of mountain bike trails that range in accesibility of skill levels. My favorite (because of said accesibility, as well as proximity), is the Ohio and Erie Canal trail, which you can find at the CanalWay Center, which is the Nature Center off of the Towpath Trail at East 49th St. The trail is a quick 2-mile loop that you can ride once, or repeat to develop your skill. I highly recommend it if you are "getting your feet wet" on the bike.
Next up are the Royalview Trails, located off of the Cleveland Metroparks trail in Mill Stream Run Reservation in Strongsville. There you will find two trails, one for beginners (or those looking for a relaxed ride), and a more challenging trail for those who like to push their boundaries. This location has also hosted events where varoius companies bring their best bikes in for you to try out on the trails.
If you're up for a little drive and want a bigger challenge, you can hit up the West Branch State Park Full Tour Mountain Bike Trail in Ravenna, Ohio. It's a difficult 11.4 miles of rocky and rooty trail that will give even seasoned bikers a good workout.
Additionally, we have many bike shops in the area where you can get more suggestions for trail riding, as well as advice on getting your first (or tenth!) mountain bike. You can, of course, always check out the Cleveland Metroparks website for trail information.
For a more relaxed way to enjoy summer in Cleveland, over the past few years two free music festivals have popped up right in our backyards. The first being CMA Ohio City Stages in Hingetown. The Cleveland Museum of Art arranges concerts of groups from all over the world to perform every Wednesday night in July, right in the middle of Hingetown. The intersection of West 29th and Church streets is taken over by a stage that brilliantly comes to life from about 7:00 until 9:00 or later. You can bring a chair with you, post up on the grass and enjoy the food and beverage vendors, or dance the night away in front of the stage.
If you're looking for a little more rowdy way to enjoy free outdoor music, check out Edgewater Live, where rock bands take the stage right on the beach, every Thursday night starting June 9th through August 11th (minus July 21st), from 5:30-8:30pm. The backdrop is beautiful, the people-watching is superb, and it seems the cold beer tastes even more delicious with your toes in the sand.
Lastly, my newest toy (and newest obsession) has been an inflatable kayak I bought on the internet. For a cool $130, you can own a vessel that allows you to get some of the best views of our city, directly from the Cuyahoga River. You can drop in at Whiskey Island and paddle your way to the mouth of the river, or for a more chill beginning you can start at the boat docks at Merwin's Wharf in the flats. Merwin's Wharf is located on the North side of the Columbus Road Bridge, near the new skate park, the Cleveland Rowing Foundation, and the Ohio City Bicycle Co-op.
No matter how you enjoy your summer, I hope you do just that: enjoy it! You can also share all of your summer adventures with your neighbors, by submitting your stories at www.ohiocityobserver.com.
Erika Durham is the Editor in Chief of the Ohio City/Tremont Observer. She is the owner of Canopy Collective in Ohio City. Although she holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Classical Saxophone, she has largely worked in counseling and small business management.