Best Places to Hike in Ohio
In this post we present you the best places to hike in Ohio. A while back, I was travelling. I’d brought a decent amount of gear with me (It’s just something I do. Don’t judge.) so when I had any extra time, I used it to get out there, hike into whatever wilderness was nearest. I ended up having a pretty great time, considering it was all unplanned.
I decided knowing where to hike no matter where you go is crucial. Like what if someone invites you to Ohio? Where do you find the best hiking in Ohio? I’m glad you asked. Here are 7 fantastic hikes in the Buckeye State. Hey, maybe you live there already. Well good on you, because you live in an awesome state for hiking.
Best Northwestern Ohio Hikes
Oak Openings Preserve Metropark – Oak Opening Hiking Trail
Just outside of Toledo, this metropark clocks in at around 5,000 acres. It’s big enough that you feel like you’ve left the city but really it’s only a half hour from Toledo. Oak Openings has more than 50 miles of trails for walking, horseback riding and hiking. The Oak Opening Hiking Trail is a whopping 16 miles long and goes all around the park, so you see everything the park has to offer, wetlands, sand dunes, pine forests and meadows.
Best Northeastern Ohio Hikes
Mohican State Park – Lyons Falls to Hemlock Gorge Trail
Technically, this is three hikes stitched together. Start off doing the Lyons Falls hike, where you’ll get to see the Big and Little Lyons Falls. Then pick up the Pleasant Hill trail heading south, hike through the picnic area and pick up the Hemlock Gorge Trail, which follows the Mohican River. Combined, you get about 8 miles of trail under your feet. You’ll see red, white and black oak, red maple and white pine as well as some ash, hemlock and yellow birch. The Mohican Lodge at the north end of the park has 96 rooms and a restaurant and cocktail lounge. Nice place to end up after a good hike.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park – Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail
This hike is more like a flat walk, but it’s as long as you want it to be (many getting on and off points) Sometimes easy is nice. We can’t be trail beasts all the time. This hike follows along the Erie Canal and is sort of like a mini history lesson about 19th century transportation. You’ll see the old locks in the canal and the paths that mules used to tow boats. But don’t worry, you’ll also enjoy forests and wetlands flanking the trail as it makes its way through the Cuyahoga River valley. Keep an eye out for beavers who are being, you know, busy.
Best South Central Ohio Hikes
Wayne National Forest – Vesuvius Backpacking Trail
This 17 mile trail winds through some of the best landscapes Ohio has to offer.
You’ll go through open fields, along a the Vesuvius lakeshore, into mature forest, and across brushland. And take a look at the limestone formations along the way—downright awe inspiring. This is pretty rugged terrain and the vegetation can get pretty thick, so plan accordingly. Vesuvius is real backpacking, where you’re bringing everything you need, including water. The rivers and lake aren’t suited for drinking so it’s BYOW. (Just a quick FYI Wayne NF is divided into three parts. This hike is in the Ironton Unit.)
Best Southeastern Ohio Hikes
Zaleski State Forest – Backpack Trail
Zaleski State Forest is the second largest in Ohio (the biggest is Shawnee State Forest, with 60 miles of backpacking trails all its own, but I digress…) The trail is a 23 mile loop with three primitive campsites along the way, as well as drinking water. If you’re not feeling like overnighting there’s a good 10 mile day loop trail. Highlights of the hike include remnants of old mining and quarry operations and the old, but restored, Hope Schoolhouse.
Ash cave at Hocking Hills State Park
Hocking Hills has many awesome hikes. This is one of them. The hike to Ash Cave is not long, only about a half mile, but the payoff is big. You’ll see the largest, most impressive cave in the state. For the short time you’re on the trail you’ll see hemlocks, cool rock formations and waterfalls. It’s mildly rugged, but not difficult.
Best Southwestern Ohio Hikes
The park itself is 752 acres and surrounds Clifton Gorge (which has its own Nature Preserve, also worth checking out). All the trails in the park are under 2 miles, so hiking a number of them in a day is definitely doable. Most follow along the Little Miami River.
Look for impressive dolomite/limestone formations, one is called Steamboat Rock. You’ll also see small waterfalls and cascades. Some of the hikes have observation decks where you can see parts of the gorge and the rapids.
These are just a few of the hundreds of miles of hiking trails that Ohio has to offer. State parks, national parks, state forests, they’re all teeming with beautiful places to get out of town. Next time you’re in Ohio, or if you’re there already, do as the Ohioans do, take a HIKE! I hope you like this about the best places to hike in Ohio.
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