Running and walking in Southeast Tennessee just can’t be beat! With a great mix of slight hills, gorgeous views, mild weather, and the current changing fall leaves, southeast Tennessee has some of the best places for outdoor activity anywhere! Here are some of our favorite places to run and walk in and around the Cleveland area:
- Downtown Cleveland: Whether you’re a runner or walker, taking in the sites of downtown Cleveland is an outdoor activity you won’t want to skip. Downtown Cleveland was built to be walkable, so it’s easy to see the entire area on a short stroll. From the historic Craigmiles Hall where John Phillip Soussa played, to the birthplace of Cleveland at Taylor Springs Park, there is so much to see in such a small area! (Don’t miss a landmark with the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce’s Historic Downtown Walking Tour. Guides are available at Terra Running Company, the Chamber offices, and the Museum Center at 5ive Points.) If you want to venture further out, head into the Downtown Historic District. The grid of streets between the Greenway and Ocoee Street are impossible to get lost in. The houses are beautiful and decorated amazingly at Halloween! Lee University’s campus is in the downtown area as well, and the perfectly manicured lawns and safe sidewalks are perfect for pedestrians. Parking is readily available downtown and free any time! If you are looking for a parking lot, check out the city park and public lot at First Street Square.
- Johnston Woods: Privately owned by Broadstreet United Methodist Church, the trails at Johnston Woods in McDonald, Tennessee will make you feel like your lost in the Smokies instead of mere minutes from I-75! There is a great 4.2 mile trail system that is well marked, safe, and relatively flat. The leaves look beautiful in the fall! Mountain bikers, hikers, dogs, and trail runners are all welcome. There is a great map of the trails at here: https://www.alltrails.com/explore/trail/us/tennessee/johnston-woods-trail?mobileMap=false&ref=sidebar-view-full-map and a printed version in the parking lot. Be aware that the trails boarder private property and be sure to adhere to all trail rules! Us locals really appreciate Broadstreet United Methodist Church for letting us enjoy these trails year round!
- Ocoee Whitewater Center: If you are looking for some more remote trails outside of town, don’t miss the trail system at the Ocoee Whitewater Center in Polk County. It’s an easy and beautiful 20-minute drive from Cleveland and has some amazing sites! The Whitewater Center is where the kayaking was held during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. There are miles of trails easily accessible from the parking area, and you’ll feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere! If you’re looking for an easy loop, check out the 1-mile loop called the Rhododendron Trail. The trails are open during daylight hours year-round. These trails are great for hikers and trail runners, but they are a bit more challenging than those at Johnston Woods. Learn more about the Ocoee Whitewater Center and trails here: https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/cherokee/recarea/?recid=35096
- Cleveland Greenway: Cleveland is blessed to have a 4.2 mile continuous paved Greenway that doesn’t have to cross any roads! The Greenway passes by lots of Cleveland landmarks. There are lots of beautiful art sculptures, 21 uniquely painted large ducks, water fountains, pavilions, and benches. It’s a perfect path for walking, running, biking, dogs, and kids! The Greenway connects neighborhoods and shopping centers, giving us all a great tour of all that Cleveland has to offer. Check out a map and the access points all over town here: http://www.cbcgreenway.com/maps/access-points-2/
To learn more about running or walking in the area, check out Terra Running Company, Cleveland’s locally owned specialty running store, located at 90 North Ocoee Street in downtown. We have free lockers that are available to the public to be used for personal items when you head out for a run or walk from our store! Info about group runs, races, and local shopping can be found at TerraRunning.com.
Brittany Katz is the owner of Terra Running Company and Cleveland Coffee & Market located in downtown Cleveland. She serves on the board of the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce and Girls on the Run of SE Tennessee. She loves to run, read, walk her dog Rocky, and drink coffee.