Lower Lake is one of two lakes in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, created in the 1820s by the damming of Doan Brook by the Shakers to operate mills for lumber and flour. Subsequently in 1895 The Shaker Heights Land Company conveyed the land to the city of Cleveland for the express purpose of parklands. Cleveland leased the areas of the parklands that lie within the municipal boundaries of Shaker Heights and Cleveland Heights to those cities in 1947. As part of the Shaker Parklands, Lower Lake is today under the care of these two cities.
Humans have impacted this site for the past two hundred years, first for commercial purposes by the Shakers and then for recreation. The natural habitat has been compromised for two centuries, with the woods transformed into building materials by the Shakers and the land lightly managed by mowing and blowing in more recent times.
The most notable exception to habitat degradation was when the Shaker Lakes Garden Club, established in 1915, created a woodland garden at the east end of the lake in 1921. Remnants of the garden exist today.
The Shaker Parklands is on a globally important migratory bird route. Each spring and fall wood warblers and other migrants stop over at Lower Lake to feed on insects and berries before continuing on their journeys of thousands of miles. Many kinds of ducks nest at Lower Lake, and herons, egrets, osprey, and eagles are common visitors.
The trail around Lower Lake is actively used year round as people walk, run, and bicycle.
Friends of Lower Lake (FLL), a volunteer program of The Doan Brook Watershed Partnership (DBWP),is restoring Lower Lake’s habitat that has been overtaken by aggressive invasive vegetation. The goal is to create a more diverse native environment that is beneficial to the insects, birds, and mammals, including humans, who thrive in a healthy environment.