Family-Friendly Fall Hikes
By Abbey Roy

If there’s one thing our family of five has learned during years of hiking in Ohio, it’s that kids are never too young (or too old!) to start exploring.

Whether your little ones are in backpack carriers or teenagers whose phones you’re confiscating for an hour or two, take advantage of this gorgeous fall season to experience the Great Buckeye Outdoors first-hand.

Here are a few of our favorite spots:

1. Mount Airy Forest. Our family recently had a great opportunity to beat the heat on a woodsy trail in Cincy’s Mount Airy Forest. The girls had fun making their way to the easily accessible Everybody’s Treehouse; we followed it up with a gentle descent that followed a creek bed through the woods.

2. Ohio State Parks. Salt Fork, Blue Rock, Deer Creek and Pymatuning State Parks are among our favorites. Make a weekend of it by staying in a lodge, cabin or campground. (Some even give discounts for good grades!)

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3. Dawes Arboretum. Make your hiking trip educational by learning about different types of trees in this nearly 2,000-acre gem of nature. Don’t forget to take your little ones through each page of the Dawes Story Trail and stop by the nature center for some Whit’s Frozen Custard.

Also in Licking County, Blackhand Gorge State Nature Preserve boasts a rich natural history with stunning views; nearby, a vast network of metroparks in the Columbus area mean numerous options for an afternoon in nature, just minutes from the metropolis.

4. Cuyahoga Valley National Park. More than 30,000 acres of rivers, falls, forests and rocks–all in one park. Whether you have a weekend or a couple hours, add this to your list of fall must-sees. (Bonus: Hop on the train if you can.)

5. Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail. Winding from Cleveland to New Philadelphia, this 85-mile trail is both scenic and family-friendly. If you’re in the neighborhood, stop for pictures and pumpkins as Szalay’s Farm Market, where fall produce and photo-ops abound.

About the Author

Abbey Roy is a Kent State University journalism graduate. She writes a weekly column entitled the Bargain Advocate for the Newark Advocate and Media Network of Central Ohio and enjoys spending time with her family - her husband, Seth, and two daughters, Analeigh and Aria - reading, being outdoors (especially in the woods, water or both), bicycling and photography. She also makes a mean zucchini bread. You can email Abbey at