The Cleveland Metropark reservations are linked together to form the giant green (emerald) necklace around the outskirts of the city. This Emerald Necklace has a paved “all-purpose trail” totaling about 70 miles and nearly 20,000 acres. Unlike the Towpath Trail, described below, this all-purpose trail is not a rail-trail and therefore it is not a flat or straight. The trail winds its way, frequently along rivers and creeks, taking you up and down small hills. Some sections might be narrow or rugged for running. The highest recommended reservations are described below but more information about the other Metropark reservations can be found here. This is basically a series of linear parks that run into one another — a series of “reservations”.
- Big Creek Reservation. Closest to downtown. Start at traihead at Brookpark Rd.
- Rocky River Reservation: Northern Section/Southern Section
Located on the west side of Cleveland about 20 minutes away from downtown, Rocky River Reservation is a must see! The all-purpose trail runs for 13.9 miles and is best for out and back runs. Traveling along Rocky River, you’ll see the massive shale cliffs, huge sycamore trees, numerous bird species and possibly white-tailed deer. Conveniently, this Reservation is located directly next to the International Airport. If you are stuck in an Airport Hotel, this run is accessible from your doorstep.
North Chagrin Reservation
North Chagrin Reservation, located in Mayfield and Willoughby Hills, is about a 25-minute drive west from downtown Cleveland. The reservation is a member of the Cleveland Metroparks and includes a nature center, a multipurpose trail, many gravel and dirt trails, and playing fields. The park is also home to Squires Castle, a common attraction for many. The multipurpose trail offers 4.2 miles of paved trail. This is a good option for trail running. Be warned that North Chagrin Reservation is known for its hills.
Also about 25 minutes south of Cleveland, the Brecksville Reservation borders Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The park includes horse stables, the Sleepy Hollow Golf Course, a nature center, many picnic areas, and a myriad of trails on which to run. This park has a very hilly geography. With some hills up to a mile in length, you’ll get a great cardiovascular workout. The all-purpose trail extends 9.3 miles and passes Chippewa Creek Gorge scenic overlook. Additionally, the park includes the Dear Lick Cave, which makes for an interesting stop on your running route.