Guided park walks begin May 20

A walking path at Lower Lake.

Many Heights residents and visitors are surprised to learn that there are 140 acres of nearby parks offering accessible trails and a rich history. Friends of Heights Parks, a nonprofit organization, will present a monthly free Walk in the Park at 10 a.m. on the third Saturday of every month, May through October, to remedy this.

Some people have an innate fear of walking in the woods, as if the Big Bad Wolf or Hansel and Gretel's Wicked Witch is lurking behind a tree. However, if poison ivy is identified and avoided (“leaves of three, let it be”), and walkers remain on the trail, any lingering fear can be replaced with pure enjoyment.

All of the one- to two-hour walks will encompass both human and natural history, and will feature exploring more than hiking.

The first walk is at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 20, at Lower Lake in the Doan Brook watershed. Park management is shared by Shaker Heights and Cleveland Heights, with a group of volunteers from several cities coming together every Sunday to remove invasives and plant native species at this popular regional park. Armed with historic maps and colorful stories about the Canoe Club (1907–1976) that was a longtime fixture at the lake, veteran volunteer John Barber will lead the one-mile walk, with additional comments from the motley group of volunteers who will enthusiastically point out work they've done over the past six years.

Four of the walks will wend their way through the west branch of the Dugway Brook, largely culverted to create the connected park system.

The parks that will be explored are Cain Park, Schoolhouse and Cumberland parks, Forest Hill Park, and Lakeview Cemetery. An especially interesting walk through nature will be at "Area 51"—an undisclosed location along the Doan Brook.

The walks will be led by residents well-versed in park history, including Elsa Johnson (Forest Hill Park) and Kara Hamley O’Donnell (Cumberland Park).

To view the full schedule of walks, and to register for one or more, visit

Peggy Spaeth

Peggy Spaeth is co-chair of the Friends of Lower Lake; president of the Friends of Heights Parks; and a guide for the Heights Native Pollinator Path.

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Volume 16, Issue 5, Posted 9:34 AM, 05.02.2023