These are the last days before my 5K race, so it is time to get serious. Come on Angel, you better work (B****)! Having this race as a goal has really motivated me to keep running during late spring, a time I usually allocate to bike rides. It may have been the realization that my race was coming up, or the eating “out of control” while at our friends’ party the night before, but I had a strong desire to go running this weekend. And running I did; I went for an outdoor run along one of my favorite places to do so: the Shaker Lakes.
Four manmade (dammed) lakes actually make up the “Shaker Lakes”. The ones I like running around are the Horseshoe and the Lower Shaker Lakes. These are located between North Park and South Park Boulevards, and go from west to east from Coventry Rd to Park Dr. (respectively) and they separate the cities of Cleveland Heights and Shaker Heights. It’s an area about 2 miles long if you go straight from one end to the next. However, there are many trails that will provide additional area for your run or hike; some are close to the road, and others go all the way down to the lake. Along the way, you’ll see the people who visit the park by foot or bike, and of course, you’re bound to see a few dogs taking their “me-time” along the trails. The trails are a combination of paved trail, dirt trail, and boardwalk (thankfully not all at once), with a very short segment that’s loose gravel, and it’s clearly labeled as such (in case you ride your bike).
Around the Lower Lake, there’s the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes. Beyond the building that houses an educational center, a gift shop, and restrooms, the center has nice boardwalk trails where you can see, and hear the birds that call this area home, and a beautiful marsh. If you go towards the north side (right side if you are walking from the building), there’s a gate that allows you to go out to the street, to the intersection of North Park, South Park and South Woodland Boulevards. Across S. Woodland lies the Lower Shaker Lake Park. The north side of the park is mostly an “upper” level paved trail that goes parallel to North Park, and a “lower” dirt trail that’s really close to the water. I personally worry about tripping on a root and falling into the lake while running, but I’ve been known to be overly cautious sometimes. The south side of the park has dirt trails only, but this side is mostly at the street level. The south side is wider than the other side, and there are benches where some people go to read, to rest, or just to enjoy the beautiful scenery.
There’s another park around the Horseshoe Lake, called the Horseshoe Lake Park (of course). Once again, the north side is narrower than the south side, and it’s mostly a paved trail at street level. As of June 2014, there’s construction at the Belmont School so there’s a bit of what I’ll call “construction smell” while you are by the intersection of North Park Blvd. and Lee Rd., but as soon as you pass the construction site it fades away. The trail turns into a dirt path as you intersect Shelburne Rd (where you start going south). At some point, the trail narrows dramatically, and many people choose to walk on the road (opposite to traffic, with caution), but you can technically still fit on the trail. You’ll quickly reach the entrance to the Horseshoe Lake Park. This park has a few barbecue and picnic areas, it has restrooms, and there are areas for kids to play. There are some short trails that loop around and take you very close to the lake (great views), and some of the trails can take you to towards the south side of the park. At this side you’ll find benches, gardens, and a beautiful path along the lake that connects back to North Park Blvd. Across from South Park Blvd. you can see the Shaker Historical Society Museum, and there are other shaker landmarks along the park as well.
There’s ample parking at the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes, and also some street parking around the entrance to the Horseshoe Lake Park. Some people park on the bicycle lanes along North Park, but that’s just not nice. Bicycle parking (a few racks) is available at both parks. The two parks also have nice, clean restrooms and water fountains. Both the Shaker Historical Society Museum and the Nature Center have bicycle oriented activities during the summer that are worth considering!