Thursday, October 31, 2013

Run 52: Sayler Park

We visited Sayler Park on the kind of fall morning that makes you nostalgic for the moment before it’s even gone: crisp but not too cold, the smell of wood burning stoves, trees ablaze.  

We started our run at the 63-acre Fernbank Park, which stretches along the Ohio River for over a mile.  We made a loop on a meandering jogging path, passing older couples, families, and dog walkers.

Look at this park—it’s gorgeous!  You could make an afternoon of walking along the river path and looking at the foliage.  This is the kind of place to take out-of-town guests or a first date.  


And then, as if the park hadn’t already exceeded all of our expectations, we discovered these well-kept hiking trails through the woods.  Unlike the running trails we’re used to, these weren’t full of trip-hazard roots—just a wide, packed-dirt path.  


At that point, we decided that Fernbank Park is in the running for the best "never seen it before" surprise we have discovered on a Run 52.   Contenders include Fleischman Gardens in Avondale and the reservoir path in California.

We tore ourselves away from Fernbank Park to check out the rest of the neighborhood.  Sayler Park is Cincinnati’s western-most neighborhood and was annexed by the City in 1911.  It is about a 20 minute drive from Downtown, through Sedamsville and then Riverside.  The neighborhood is named after Nelson Sayler, who was an early settler who served as the community’s first Mayor.  Here is a picture of him on the side of this building.  The other gentleman is Doctor Gracely, namesake of Sayler Park’s Gracely Drive. 

Sayler Park is known for its big, beautiful Victorian homes.  Although these survived the infamous Sayler Park tornado of 1974, many others were lost:


Some of the Victorians are featured on the Sayler Park ArtWorks mural, which showcases Sayler Park’s past, present, and future:


In addition to the Victorians, I loved this one-room schoolhouse turned into a single-family house, and this adorable little barber shop:


Nearby, is the Parkland Theatre, where you can still see a movie for just three dollars!

On our loop around Gracely and Parkland, we stopped at two more parks—Stuart Park and the eponymous “Sayler Park”:

Although I snapped this shot because I thought the horse was cute, it also serves to illustrate how tree-lined the Sayler Park streets are:

Although Donnie had never been to Sayler Park before our run, I had been once before to buy litter pick-up sticks from the hardware shop on Gracely Drive.  There is a great little business corridor that includes the hardware store, a boat repair shop, and the Bizy Bees Bakery, which was advertising pumpkin donuts!


Yeah, they had me at “pumpkin.”  Although we were well aware that donuts would cancel out any calories we may have burned on our run, we stopped for a sack of them on our way out of the neighborhood.  The pumpkin donut was like a moist and spicy zucchini bread.  YUMM!



View the full route with mile markers here: 


  1. WONDERFUL ARTICLE thank you for sharing the beauty of our little town.

  2. Thank you for this great article and thank you for sharing your story and photos of our lovely little town.

  3. I grew up in Sayler Park and I don't think I have ever seen it so well represented! Thanks for a pleasant walk down memory lane!

  4. Not sure who to thank, but Thanks!!! With the exception of a baseball field and a picnic area on the west end of that area was undeveloped. The area along the river used to be overgrown for the most part. It was close to a mile and a half of prime river front just sitting there collecting trash and overgrown thickets so thick you couldn’t drive a bull dozer through it.

    A group from St. Als got together, had plan drawn up, invited a councilman from the city to come down and attend a town hall style meeting in the gym at St. AL’s. On-The-Ohio School.

    They proposed their plan to the city official…The plan include hiking and running trails, these trails would be cleared with exercise stops along the way. There were swings and areas where parents could take their kids to play.... All these thing were done in a way that the integrity of the area was intact… In short basically the exact same park in these wonderful pictures...

    This meeting took place circa 1980-84.

    It only took the city of Cincinnati another 25-30 years to bring it to fruition. If there is one thing you can say about the citizens of Sayler Park it’s that they are patient…some may call it stubborn.

    I think I still have those plans…they are drawn out on a piece of butcher’s paper 30” wide and about 6’ long. I got the paper from the grocery across the street from Parnell’s Hardware.

  5. Thank you so much, everyone! I'm glad you enjoyed reading about our Sayler Park run. And Darrell, thanks for the history lesson! We enjoyed the time we spent in Sayler Park so much--definitely one of the highlights of our entire year!

  6. Loved this wonderful trip down memory lane. Miss Sayler Park so much! Thanks for a beautiful description of it.

  7. I'm a new Cincinnati resident trying to figure out where to buy a house and your article is making me seriously consider Sayler Park. Thanks! :-)