Cleveland Lakefront Bikeway – Ohio

While our plan was to bike the Cleveland Lakefront Bikeway, we got a bit diverted by a narrow strip of land called Rockefeller Park, located just beyond the sprawling campus of the Cleveland Clinic. We rode through the park on the Harris Dillard Trail, which goes mostly downhill for about 3.7 miles to Lake Erie. Riding through this beautifully landscaped oasis amidst otherwise, urban commercial neighborhoods, we passed the Museum of Natural History, the Maltz Center for Performing Arts (a former synagogue) and the campus of Case Western Reserve University. 

Rockefeller Park is known most for its “cultural gardens” that are at least 100 years old and represent countries from all over the world.  Some of these quarter-acre plots contain fountains, flowers and statues of dignitaries – like Ireland, Serbia and India, which has a life-size statue of Ghandi.  But Mexico, Germany and Uzbekistan were among the barren gardens, marked only by signs.  (What, in 100 years, the diaspora from these countries haven’t been able to raise enough money to plant a few bushes?!)  

Once we reached the actual Waterfront Trail, we decided, rather than head left and west toward downtown Cleveland, we turned right and east toward the charming hamlet of Bratenahl. Here we rode on a broad, but quiet, street past several great gated estates, likely dating back to the early 20th century.  Most of the homes were situated on 2–3-acre wooded lots, surrounded by high wrought iron fences, imposing brick pillars and ornate gates. Visible beyond each house and its beautifully maintained grounds was the vast expanse of Lake Erie.

After a few miles, the neighborhood and woods ended and we entered Euclid, a community of smaller, post-WWII homes, strip shopping centers, and one large hi-rise housing development. We persisted along this busier on-road portion of the trail to the Euclid MetroPark, where ample signage pointed us to a winding trail through the park to a marina.  Here we were rewarded with striking views of Lake Erie and the skyline of Cleveland in the distance.

Determined to find the eastern trailhead, we continued past the marina and through a small nature preserve which promoted the return of a coyote habitat. Fortunately, we did not encounter any of the beasts. 

The Waterfront Trail at this end was a combination of sidewalks, a paved path, roads and shoulders with painted lanes. Jim, coming off an injury (face plant on paved trail in Indiana – note bandage below) and riding gingerly over the many roots and ruts on the trail, was content with just a 20-mile ride, so we didn’t venture toward downtown.  But the reviews we’d read and the drive we’d taken to scope it out the night before suggested that there would be much weaving through road traffic and industrial sections of town.

While we typically try to find the brewery nearest to the trail upon which we ride, in this case, Jim was excited to go to Great Lakes Brewing Company on the western side of downtown in the bustling and hip Ohio City neighborhood. This is one of the best known and most widely distributed Midwest breweries, established in 1986.  Kellie is typically the flight tryer, but this time, Jim joined her for a monster tasting of all 12 of their beers on tap.  This turned out to be an excellent choice and only $30! Initially, we each took the six beers that appealed to us most – Jim going with the IPAs and lagers, and Kellie going with the hefeweizens and oddball beers. Then, we shared the ones we thought the other might also enjoy. 

The Dortmunder Gold Lager is their best seller – it’s sort of like a heavy Budweiser.  Jim liked the Great Lakes IPA (it reminded him of one of his favorites – Cigar City Brewing’s Jai Alai) and the Hazecraft IPA, which he described as a refreshing West Coast IPA.  The Edmund Fitzgerald Porter reminded him, in a good way, of the coffee he forgets to drink until it gets cold each morning. Kellie liked the Oktoberfest, a delicious amber ale, the Grapefruit Imperial Ale, which was light and very grapefruity, and the Cleveliner Weisse which had a surprisingly tart finish.  

Got tips for riding in Cleveland? Share them in the Comments below. 

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