Thursday, August 25, 2011

10 Great Ohio Hiking Spots

We walk because we have to. We hike because we want to.

Get ready to embark on some fantastic hikes throughout Ohio! I have compiled a list of 10 Great Ohio Hiking Spots, most from my own personal experience, and others by asking readers for their favorites! If you're a hiking fiend like me, you will have no trouble tackling each trail on this top ten list! Let's get started!!

Jackson Bog - Photo by OHventures

1. Jackson Bog State Nature Preserve (7984 Fulton Dr NW, Massillon): This bog is really a sight to see! It is preserved here to keep the ecosystem in tact as well as to educate people about the great importance of bogs. There is a 1.25 mile-long boardwalk trail encompassing the bog as well as a few miles worth of forested dirt paths, which are rather hilly. Coming here, be sure to pack the bug spray, as the bog attracts a great deal of insects. It's well worth it to see the lily pads and other botanical wonders along the paths, many of which have informative markers to help you identify them. Click here for a list of the 89 preserves throughout the state, courtesy of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Mill Creek Park - Photo by OHventures

2. Mill Creek Park (123 McKinley Avenue, Youngstown): At 4,400 acres, this is the largest metropark in the entire state!! There are 14 hiking trails, two of which are right by the majestic landmark in the park, Lanterman's Mill. The best are Trails 7 and 8 (East Gorge Walk and West Gorge Trail) which together create a 2 mile loop along Mill Creek. While part of the trail consists of a boardwalk, the majority of the trail is rather challenging terrain with hills, twists and turns. There are massive rocks that exhibit Ohio's geology at its finest (above). I would highly suggest embarking on this trail! It would take a very long time to tell you in detail about each of the hiking trails offered at Mill Creek Park, so be sure to grab a trail map and explore! Click here to read about Lanterman's Mill, The Cinderella Bridge, and other attractions at Mill Creek Park.

Hocking Hills - Photo by OHventures

3. Hocking Hills State Park (19852 State Route 664 S, Logan): There are 4 "sections" in Hocking Hills State Park. These include: Ash Cave (pictured above) & Cedar Falls, Old Man's Cave, Rock House, and Cantwell Cliffs. They are all based on rock formations that are so unique, you can't find anything like it in the rest of Ohio. Waterfalls, stone stairways, cliffs, and even what is referred to as the "Devil's Bathtub" are just some of the highlights. This scenic hike was not strenuous at all, so it was perfect to pack a light backpack of snacks and water and soak in the scenery to clear your mind. The trail is also marked, as it is owned and maintained by the state, and there are plenty of other tourists at any given time (no 127 Hours business here!). Click here for my photos from Hocking Hills and click here for a map and directions for each section of Hocking Hills! 

Quail Hollow - Photo by OHventures

4. Quail Hollow State Park (13480 Congress Lake Avenue, Hartville): Located in Stark County (not far from the aforementioned Jackson Bog State Nature Preserve), Quail Hollow State Park is a multi-functional park that has a variety of trails (14 miles total) accessible to handicapped individuals and experienced hikers alike. There is also a designated horse trail (5 miles) and mountain bike trail (4 miles). One of my favorite aspects of the park is the herb gardens and the Carriage House Nature Preserve, which has educational exhibits and interactive elements. It's a beautiful old house that the hiking path wraps around.

Gorge Trail - Photo by OHventures

5. Gorge Trail Metropark (1270 Front Street, Cuyahoga Falls): This northeast Ohio hiking hot spot has beautiful views and everything from gentle to strenuous hiking paths that are approximately 2-3 miles in length. Aside from the picturesque waterfall (above), the best part of the trail was definitely hiking in between the large canyons and over intricate root patterns.

Prairie Oaks - Photo by OHventures

6. Prairie Oaks Metro Park (3225 Plain City-Georgesville Road, Harrisburg): This is a very nice location for hiking, fishing, picnicking, and horseback riding. There are long and winding paths for hiking, and some designated specifically for horseback riding. There are also two big ponds, one of which is specifically for dogs to swim in (or for them to frolic on top of when it is frozen over in the winter). The scenery is fantastic here...the lakes make everything look and feel calm and serene, and the trails have great views (none of which involve can't complain about that). The path crosses over the Big Darby Creek via a pretty impressive bridge...and the paths wind through open fields and forested areas alike.

Clear Creek - Photo by OHventures

Clear Creek Metro Park (185 Clear Creek Road, Rockbridge): This is by far the most strenuous and advanced paths on the list! Perhaps the fact I hiked here during the icy, snowy winter contributed to its difficulty, but regardless, there are plenty of extremely steep hills that will prove challenging. Be sure to pack appropriately before heading here for the 12 miles of trails!

8. Wildwood Preserve Metropark (5100 W. Central Avenue, Toledo): While Toledo has many metroparks, The Wildwood Preserve is a favorite to locals who come here often to utilize the many trails for walking, hiking, running, or biking. There are many open areas for throwing around the Frisbee or just relaxing in the grass. Charcoal grills and picnic tables are also provided so you can have a picnic. On the grounds of the park is The Manor House, a former mansion with beautifully landscaped gardens.

9. RiverScape Metropark (111 East Monument Avenue, Dayton): Since I have started OHventures, the great folks at Five Rivers Metroparks have contacted me about all of the awesome events that have and will take place at the metroparks in and around the Dayton area.New in 2011 is the opportunity to rent kayaks!! And, the park also offers great hiking and biking paths!

10. Caldwell Preserve (430 West North Bend Road, Cincinnati): I have yet to go to this southwest Ohio locale, but I have heard tons about it from readers of the blog. Cincinnati Parks web site says it: "features a Nature Center, an amphitheater, and 3.5 miles of nature trails, including a level-paved trail that makes it possible for wheelchair users to go into the woods, see the flowers, and hear the birds"

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