After being out of town last weekend and dealing with getting back to reality this week, we decided to stick fairly close to home and celebrate Cleveland this weekend. We headed to the Ohio & Erie Canal Reservation, which is part of the Cleveland Metro Parks system and the start of the Towpath Trail that stretches nearly 100 miles connecting Cleveland to Akron.
It seems only fitting that our very Cleveland hike would feature temps in the 20s, a bit of snow on the ground and some biting wind. We layered up, headed out and started off at the trail head off of Harvard Avenue. It’s a multi-use, two lane paved path that’s very clearly marked along the way. The start of the trail is surrounded by quite a few factories and old industry, but we knew we weren’t going to be immersed in nature on this hike. (I made sure to temper Casey’s expectations so there’d be less disappointment this time!)
The trail is really representative of the city. I like to call it “steelyard chic.” To me, there’s beauty in the rusting railroad tracks and brick smokestacks, and that’s exactly what this trail followed along – industry on one side, the canal and trees on the other.
For being centrally located, the trail was surprisingly quiet. We saw a few other joggers, but mostly had the place to ourselves. There was a slight hum of the factories, but mostly just the sounds of birds and geese overhead.
Placed along the path are remnants of the industry that used to make its home along the canal. We saw an old railroad car, different wheels and large fixtures that the Cleveland Metro Parks has done an excellent job of turning into educational art along the way.
I was feeling a bit under the weather (I swear it happens every time I return from vacation…like the coming back to a snow storm after being on a beach isn’t hard enough, my body also decides that it’s time for a sinus infection), so we decided to walk two miles down and back. The first mile down seemed to blow past, but the second mile was dragging a little bit. I pointed out a train trestle bridge in the distance and told Casey that I’d like to turn around once we got there. It just so happened to be our two-mile mark anyways.
When we turned around, however, we were immediately hit by a bitter wind. I had just warmed up as we were walking into the sun, but the walk back would be into the wind. I was beginning to feel worse and dreading the walk back a bit. But then Casey and I got to talking about our past relationships and future together and all of a sudden we were back at the car. It’s like our surroundings and time kind of disappeared, and it was just the two of us lost in conversation. I didn’t actually mind the cold one bit.
We fittingly ended celebration of Cleveland walk with a trip to the West Side Market. It’s just a few miles from the trailhead, so if you’re out that way, I highly recommend making a stop and stocking up on amazing local food. It’s a Cleveland staple, so we naturally stocked up on bacon, Irish pasties and plenty of pierogis.