6 Hikes Off the Beaten Path
By Meg Berno

6 Hikes Off the Beaten Path

Take a walk on the scenic side

Horseshoe Falls at Caesar Creek State Park in Waynesville

Summer is hiking season, and Ohio has hundreds of miles of gorgeous trails for you to explore. These lesser-known locations are picturesque and will have you packing your bags for your next Ohio adventure.

Read on for our list of must-see hikes for those who prefer being off the beaten path:

Rockbridge Waterfall

Rockbridge State Nature Preserve

Nestled away in Hocking County, Rockbridge State Nature Preserve is home to Ohio’s largest natural rock bridge or arch. Spanning more than 100 feet long and 10-20 feet wide, this bridge will take your hike to new heights. The trail is three miles long and rated moderate, so wear shoes or hiking boots with good traction. In the spring, enjoy an impressive display of wildflowers.

Maumee Bay State Park

It’s not technically a “hike,” but the two-mile ADA accessible boardwalk trail at Maumee Bay State Park is incredible! With Lake Erie views, beach access and marsh birds, this trail will switch on some serious #vacationmode. Be sure to check out the lodge and canoe rentals along the inland lake. A great area for birding too. Check with ODNR for more info on the boardwalk.

Swinging Bridge at Caesar Creek State Park

Caesar Creek State Park

Find your new favorite hike at Caesar Creek State Park. Take the Perimeter Hiking Trail 11.4 miles around the lake to uncover scenic overlooks, a swinging bridge and even a waterfall that looks like it came straight out of a fairytale. This trail is dog-friendly as well. More activities to enjoy at Caesar Creek include boating, mountain biking, the pioneer village, camping and more.

Overhead view of Conkles Hollow with autumn color

Conkles Hollow State Nature Preserve

Featuring sheer cliffs of Black Hand sandstone some 200 feet above the valley floor below, the three and half-mile Rim Trail at Conkles Hollow offers spectacular views. The Rim Trail reaches the highest point on a cliff overlooking the Hocking Valley. There are no railings to interview with the amazing natural views, so please exercise extreme caution. If you have small children, you may want to opt for the one-mile, disable accessible Lower Gorge Trail. Make plans to re-visit Conkles Hollow in autumn for magnificent fall color. Head into the city of Logan for lunch and stop by Hocking Hills State Park for more natural beauty! Be sure to check with ODNR on which areas and trails are open.

Little Beaver Creek State and National Wild and Scenic River

Beaver Creek State Park

Along Ohio’s eastern border in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, lies the beautiful Beaver Creek State Park. Take the short, easy overlook trail for fantastic views of the 2,722 acres of forested lands. You’ll want to bring your camera back in the fall to capture some of the most gorgeous fall foliage in the state. Also, in the area is Gaston’s Mill, abandoned canal locks and the park’s rustic pioneer village

Waterfalls at Clifton Gorge State Nature Preserve

Clifton Gorge State Nature Preserve

Located in Greene County just a short drive from Yellow Springs, this lesser-known nature preserve is perfect for your next hike. The natural limestone gorge, multiple waterfalls and huge boulders of Clifton Gorge are outstanding. Be prepared for uneven surfaces with tree roots and plenty of shade as trails go along and cross over the rapid Little Miami River. Don’t miss the small nature center with benches and picnic tables tucked into a shady grove. From the nature center, you can follow the one-mile Gorge Trail down to the river banks and into John Bryan State Park, the one-mile Rim Trail along the rim of the gorge or the one-half-mile Narrows Trail upstream where you can see the wildest portion of the river.. Stop at Clifton Mill for a wonderful meal of pancakes or other offerings before heading out to the trails. Be sure to come back in the spring for spectacular views of native wildflowers.

Lace up your hiking boots, pack your backpack — camera, water, snacks, sunscreen and bug spray — then hit the road to find these lesser-known hikes in Ohio. Always plan ahead as natural areas and preserves were created to preserve the best of Ohio’s amazing wild flora, fauna and geologic wonders, so there may not be restrooms or other facilities on the premises. Be safe, and share your amazing photos!

For more outdoor adventures and #OhioStateParks, check out #OhioFindItHere at Ohio.org.

About the Author

Meg Berno is a freelance writer and Marketing Coordinator with the Dublin Convention & Visitors Bureau. Meg graduated from Miami University with a degree in Strategic Communications. Outside of work, Meg enjoys photography, writing and finding new places to explore in Ohio.