The Full Cleveland is inspiring Clevelanders to hike the urban jungle, eight miles at a time

When Peet McCain takes a walk, he covers a lot of ground—around eight miles, to be exact. For more than five years, he’s been exploring what he calls “The Full Cleveland” on foot, alongside anywhere from 15 to 60 of his closest (new) friends.


“It’s less directed than a hike, more vigorous than a walk,” explains McCain of the twice-yearly group excursions. “We use the city like it’s our own personal playground.”


This Saturday, The Full Cleveland will hit its stride yet again for its 11th edition. Themed “Fire and Stone,” the route will stretch from Tremont through Detroit Shoreway. Stops along the way will include Terrapin Coffee, Hooper Farm, Western Reserve Fire Museum, St. Theodosius, Ohio City Galley, Larder, Edgewater Park, Terrestrial Brewing Company, and Stone Mad Pub—with a whole lot of urban exploration in between.


“It’s like a nature hike, but with bartenders and baristas,” jokes McCain. “The Full Cleveland is as good as any nature hike you’ve been on, only better.”


McCain was inspired to start The Full Cleveland by his experiences living in Chicago and New York City, where he used to take regular all-day walks. When McCain relocated to Cleveland in 2001, he lived in Avon initially but moved to Ohio City in 2008, and then again to Detroit Shoreway in 2011. "What I discovered was that not many people did [long urban walks] here," says McCain.

He sought to change that with The Full Cleveland.

When McCain began planning the walks in 2014, it started with just inviting a few friends to come along, but as the group grew, McCain made it “Facebook official” by creating a page and doing more formal invites. As many as 60 people have attended, though not everyone walks the full route. The walks are free, with attendees responsible for their own museum admission, food, and drinks.


So far, McCain and the ever-growing group have explored routes such as East Cleveland to Lakewood, Euclid to downtown Cleveland, Larchmere to Shaker Square, and a full exploration of downtown Cleveland’s streets. McCain estimates that each walk includes around 20 stops, with some of his favorite places to date including the Morgan Conservatory, ICA Art Conservation, the Heinen’s Rotunda downtown, and Larchmere Fire Works.

“We try to make it as fun as possible,” says McCain, adding that The Full Cleveland has inspired spinoff walks in Lakewood and Cleveland Heights. “It’s like taking a staycation—you’re experiencing the city like you would on a vacation.”


McCain’s wish list for future The Full Cleveland stops includes the Mill Creek Falls, the top of KeyBank Tower, and the AT&T building (aka the inspiration for "The Daily Planet" in Superman lore). After this Saturday's edition, he'll dive headfirst into planning the next walk, which will take place in spring 2020. It's a labor of love for McCain, who works full time for Painesville-based Active Plumbing Supply and spends about 20 hours planning each walk.

For McCain, the hard work is more than worth it. “I moved here to get married—that didn’t work out, but Cleveland worked out great,” says McCain. “I’m here on purpose.”

The Full Cleveland takes place this Saturday, Oct. 19, beginning at 8 a.m. Click here to preview the route and get more details.

Jen Jones Donatelli
Jen Jones Donatelli

About the Author: Jen Jones Donatelli

As an enthusiastic CLE-vangelist, Jen Jones Donatelli enjoys diving headfirst into her work with FreshWater Cleveland. Upon moving back to Cleveland after 16 years in Los Angeles, Jen served as FreshWater's managing editor for two years (2017-2019) and continues her work with the publication as a contributing editor and host of the FreshFaces podcast.

When not typing the day away at her laptop, she teaches writing and creativity classes through her small business Creative Groove, as well as Literary Cleveland, Cleveland State University, and more. Jen is a proud graduate of Ohio University's E.W. Scripps School of Journalism.