Cuyahoga County Lakefront Is Now Officially The Lake Erie Water Trail

Cuyahoga County’s lakefront is now a water trail, as designated by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources in a ceremony Friday. The trail stretches from Huntington Beach in Bay Village to Sims Park in Euclid.

The Lake Erie Water Trail features more than a dozen official access points to the water with a variety of amenities, as well as safety information and difficulty levels for a variety of routes. The goal, said ODNR Director Mary Mertz, is to get people out onto the water while helping them remain safe.

“To pick those trails so they understand the difficulty levels, they understand what’s ahead of them, they feel some sense of safety and comfort when they hit the water,” Mertz said. “There should be some sense of adventure, but you want to be safe.”

Paddleboarding, kayaking and similar recreational activities have grown in popularity in recent years, Mertz said, with registration of personal non-motorized watercraft at about 250,000 in the state. That’s more than quadruple the number in 2006.

The water trail designation also brings opportunities for environmental awareness and stewardship, Mertz said, by encouraging more people to visit the area and learn to appreciate and use it.

The designation is part of a broader effort by Cleveland Metroparks to connect local communities to Lake Erie and the Cuyahoga River, said Metroparks Board of Park Commissioners member Debra Barry.

“We’re not just stopping with the city of Cleveland, we’re expanding that access all the way across Cuyahoga County,” Barry said. “That’s why we’re here today.”

Park and state officials signed the official designation and cut a ribbon as part of the ceremony. They and several residents then went out onto the water in kayaks and on paddleboards to take advantage of the new trail.

Paddlers and kayakers are encouraged to check the weather and other measures to evaluate whether it's safe to go on the water. [Taylor Haggerty / Ideastream Public Media]

For Berea resident Nancy Mencke, the ceremony was a great reason to get out on the water. The signage and other information on safety and difficulty make it more exciting, she said.

“It gives you something to work toward, like, I want to do this trail. We go out and we go down the river, now next time we’ll say we can start at another point and have a new destination,” Mencke said. “It’s not hard. If I can do it, anybody can do it.”

The nice weather provided an opportunity for Rocky River resident Mary Holtz. She’s learning to use an inflatable kayak she got earlier this year, and saw the event as a chance to practice.

“It was good. I was little shaky, a little nervous, I didn’t want to be the one to fall in,” Holtz said. “But it was good.”

Holtz has done some paddleboarding in inland lakes and explored portions of Lake Erie on the West Side. But the water trail offers the opportunity to get out and see new areas, she said.

“We’ve explored a little of that part [on the West Side],” Holtz said. “So I’m glad we’re looking at the area close to Downtown Cleveland.”

The Lake Erie Water Trail – Cuyahoga County is the 16th trail in the state to receive a designation. Ohio now has nearly 1,000 miles of water trails.

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