WES-28Trail1

An early draft of the proposed water trail. Details may be subject to change.

Cleveland Metroparks has hundreds of miles of foot trails in its 23,000 acres in Cuyahoga, Lake and Medina counties.

Now planners are looking to add a new trail. But this one will be on water.

The park district is considering creating a 25-mile water trail following the Lake Erie shore from Bay Village to Euclid.

The Metroparks will hold an open house to discuss the proposed trail and access points at 6:30 p.m.Thursday at the Don Umerley Civic Center, 21016 Hilliard Blvd. The Metroparks will have first-draft map and will seek public input.

“Public interest in paddle sports has really been increasing,” said Kelly Coffman, senior strategic park planner for the Metroparks. “State registration of kayaks has more than doubled since 2006. So we thought to supplement our educational programs that teach people how to use watercrafts, we’d try to broaden the effort to all across the county.”

Project organizers want public input so they can organize maps, signage and brochures before submitting an application to the state. Costs for the project vary depending what is needed. Estimates for a trail like this run between $5,000 and $40,000, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

The trail is expected to open next year and could include 13 trailheads where paddlers can enter the lake. These entryways include Bradstreet’s Landing in Rocky River, the Emerald Necklace Marina in Lakewood and Huntington Beach and Columbia Park in Bay Village. Hazards such as submerged rocks will be marked so paddlers can avoid them.

Water trails, much like hiking trails, are recreational routes with strategically located access points and signage that provides information along the way. Ohio has 12 water trails, with eight others planned. The first trail was established in 2005 in the Kokosing River in Newcastle Township in Coshocton County.

The water trail closest to the Westshore region is the Lorraine-Vermillion water trail.

“What we’re trying to do when we develop a water trail is put more information in the people’s hands that will help them be safer on the water,” said Tom Arbour, ODNR trails coordinator.

The idea for a Lake Erie water trail arose during discussion about a water trail opening in October on the Cuyahoga River which spans the rivers entire length from Cleveland to Burton in Geauga County, Coffman said.

“We felt really strongly that Lake Erie water travel should be a separate trail because the water conditions are so different,” she said, including water temperatures, wind conditions and terrain.

Cleveland Metroparks officials introduced plans for the water trail in June and held their first open-house discussion Aug. 13 in Euclid. Every city involved, including Rocky River, Bay Village and Lakewood, has shown interest in the project.

“I think it’s a great idea,” said Kathryn Kerber, a project manager for Bay Village. “If anything, I think it will get more people involved in paddling.”

Once a water trail is established in Cuyahoga County along Lake Erie, officials aim to work with bordering counties to make water trails that connect to theirs and create 1,200 miles of water trail along the lakeshore.

Contact this reporter at akamczyc@westlifenews.com or 440-871-5797

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