Ohio’s Best Hiking Destinations

Ohio might not be the first state that comes to mind when you think about hiking, but its diverse landscapes offer some of the most enchanting trails in the Midwest. From the lush, verdant forests of the Hocking Hills to the historical pathways of the Cuyahoga Valley, Ohio’s trails provide a rich tapestry of the natural and cultural heritage waiting to be explored by those who dare to venture off the beaten path. This guide aims to shed light on Ohio’s top hiking destinations, each offering unique experiences that cater to both beginners and seasoned hikers alike.

The Hocking Hills Region: A Mystical Escape

The Hocking Hills region, located in southeastern Ohio, is a sanctuary of natural beauty and serenity. This area is home to several must-visit trails that lead adventurers through dense forests, alongside rushing waterfalls, and into deep, recessed caves.

Old Man’s Cave Trail

Old Man’s Cave Trail is perhaps the most iconic in the Hocking Hills State Park. This relatively easy hike combines the rich history of the area with stunning geological formations, including the massive recess cave known as Old Man’s Cave. The trail also connects to several other notable paths, making it a versatile starting point for a day of exploration.

Distance: 1.5 miles

Address: 19988 OH-664 Scenic, Logan, OH 43138

Ash Cave Trail

Ash Cave Trail offers a shorter, more accessible hike that is perfect for families or those looking for a less strenuous journey. The trail culminates at Ash Cave, the largest recess cave in the state, surrounded by a horseshoe-shaped cliff and a spectacular waterfall, especially awe-inspiring after a rain.

Distance: 1/2 mile

Address: Creola, OH 45622

Cuyahoga Valley National Park: A Blend of Natural and Historical Landscapes

Nestled between the cities of Cleveland and Akron, Cuyahoga Valley National Park boasts over 125 miles of hiking trails that meander through varied landscapes—from wetlands to forests—and past historical sites, offering a glimpse into the area’s rich past.

Ledges Trail

Ledges Trail is a highlight for many visitors, featuring remarkable rock formations and a stunning overlook that offers panoramic views of the valley below. The trail is especially popular in the fall, when the foliage transforms into a vibrant palette of autumn colors.

Distance: 1.8 miles

Address: Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Peninsula, OH 44264

Brandywine Falls Trail

For those looking for a shorter hike, Brandywine Falls Trail provides an easy walk to one of the park’s most spectacular sites, the 65-foot Brandywine Falls. The trail has several vantage points, including boardwalks and platforms, allowing for unobstructed views of the waterfall and the gorge it has carved out over millennia.

Distance: 1.5 miles

Address: 8176 Brandywine Rd, Northfield, OH 44067

Wayne National Forest: An Adventurer’s Playground

Covering a quarter million acres of Appalachian foothills, Wayne National Forest is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. The forest is crisscrossed with hundreds of miles of trails, catering to hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrians alike.

Archers Fork Trail

Archers Fork Trail is a challenging loop that takes hikers deep into the heart of the forest, past natural bridges, rock shelters, and the historic Great Western Schoolhouse. This trail is recommended for more experienced hikers seeking a rugged adventure.

Distance: 14 miles

Address: T411, Matamoras, OH 45767

Lake Vesuvius Trail

Lake Vesuvius Trail encircles the scenic Lake Vesuvius, offering a range of difficulty levels across various segments. The full loop is a moderate challenge, but shorter sections can provide an easier experience, with several picturesque spots to rest and enjoy the tranquil waters of the lake.

Distance: 8.35 miles

Address: Co Rd 29, Pedro, OH 45659

John Bryan State Park: Where Nature Meets Recreation

John Bryan State Park is known for its scenic beauty and recreational opportunities. The park features a limestone gorge cut by the Little Miami River, creating a dramatic landscape that is a delight for hikers and nature photographers.

North Rim Trail

North Rim Trail offers stunning views of the gorge, with several overlooks along the way. This trail is relatively easy, making it accessible to hikers of all skill levels, and connects to other trails for those looking to extend their journey.

Distance: 2.7 miles

Address: 3790 OH-370, Yellow Springs, OH 45387

South Gorge Trail

South Gorge Trail, in contrast, takes hikers closer to the river, providing a different perspective of the gorge’s natural beauty. This trail is also known for its spring wildflower displays, adding a splash of color to the already breathtaking scenery.

Distance: 1.2 miles

Address: Miami Township, OH 45387


Ohio’s hiking trails are a testament to the state’s natural diversity, offering something for everyone—from tranquil walks through historic sites to challenging treks across rugged landscapes. Each trail not only connects hikers to the great outdoors but also to the rich tapestry of Ohio’s natural and cultural heritage. Whether you’re a seasoned explorer or a weekend adventurer, Ohio’s trails await to reveal their secrets and provide a respite from the hustle and bustle of daily life. So, lace up your hiking boots, pack your essentials, and set off on a journey to discover the untold stories and hidden gems of Ohio’s great outdoors.

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