Some of my favorite urban spaces are those that emphasize nature, and growing up in Cleveland I was lucky to have thousands of unspoiled acres to explore in the nearby Metroparks. Still, I’ve only seen a fraction of what the Metroparks have to offer. Fortunately, Clevelanders Mark Beltavski and Brian Grady have created a new podcast to highlight the Metroparks called Explore the Cleveland Metroparks.
The Cleveland Metroparks is a 23,000-acre system of nature preserves in Northeast Ohio. Nicknamed the “Emerald Necklace,” the reservations circle Cleveland with parks, trails, picnic areas, golf courses, fishing holes, and nature centers. The Metroparks spans six counties and even includes the region’s most-visited year-round attraction, the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. The Metroparks are beloved by Clevelanders who were among the system’s 45 million visitors last year.¹
The idea for a Metroparks podcast began with Beltavski’s desire to launch a radio show highlighting news and events in Cleveland. A Metroparks explorer since he was a kid, Beltavski makes an effort to go beyond the beaten path in these parks. “I’m always going off of the trails and finding unique things, like waterfalls, that visitors don’t usually see,” he said.
The expanse of the Metroparks system makes it a great candidate for curious Cleveland natives and visitors. A recent photojournalism project led Beltavski into parks he hadn’t previously explored. “I believe there are 18 reservations, so if you live in Euclid you might not even know about the Rocky River Reservation,” Beltavski said. “For example, I was photographing Sulpher Springs in the South Chagrin Reservation and started following the creek. I stumbled on awesome areas off the trail that I would have never known about.”
Rather than encompassing an entire reservation, Explore the Cleveland Metroparks will focus on individual spots within them, such as waterfalls or picnic areas. Park news and special events, like live music at Edgewater Beach, is also mentioned. Each episode is accompanied by photography on the podcast web pagepodcast web page. “I want to document these places so people know where to go and what to do in each area,” said Beltavski.
“I want to document these places so people know where to go and what to do in each area.”
Beltavski and Grady chose the Bedford Reservation’s Viaduct Park to kick off the podcast because they spent many hours in the park while growing up nearby. “In high school, we would go there after school for hours to swim and explore off the trails. We could have talked for hours about it,” said Beltavski.
While I am very familiar with the Bedford Reservation, I have never visited the Rocky River Reservation nor Monarch’s Bluff, the subjects of episode two and three respectively. I’m excited to keep listening and learning more about my hometown, and I’m looking forward to exploring more reservations on my next visit.
As Beltavski said, “Brian and I both thought we had been so many places in the Metroparks, but we realized how many sites we still have to explore.”
Enjoy episode one of Explore the Cleveland Metroparks below.
Cleveland Metroparks. “Cleveland Metroparks by the Numbers.” clevelandmetroparks.com, N.p., Web. 25 July 2016.