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Three people paddleboarding on Mosquito Lake State Park in Cortland Ohio

Explore Ohio's Nature Trails

By Ann Fazzini

Mosquito Lake State Park in Trumbull County

Walk on The Wild Side

Get ready to have your mind blown: Ohio boasts 7,680+ miles of trails across its 75 beautiful state parks. Yep — that's literally thousands of miles to hike, bike, boat and explore. All you need to do is pick your mode of travel and get moving!

Whether you're looking for a leisurely stroll or a climbing challenge, Ohio offers a gorgeous variety of hiking trails for all ages and abilities. Ohio's 75 state parks are filled with miles of hiking paths leading past waterfalls, amazing rock formations and beautiful fall colors.

For the ultimate Ohio hiking experience, the 1,444-mile Buckeye Trail is the crown jewel of Ohio's hiking paths, looping the entire state and traversing mountains, valleys, small towns, cities and waterways — all the best Ohio has to offer. It's easy to hike portions of the trail in multiple outings, jumping on and off whenever you'd like. Ohio is filled with beautiful scenery. Here are a few suggestions for shorter treks past amazing natural wonders.

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Richard P. Eastman Covered Bridge on the Little Miami Scenic Trail

Go Full Cycle

Ohio has more U.S. Bicycle Route System trails than anywhere else. The Buckeye State boasts more than 1,500 miles of trails that wind through bustling cities, charming small towns and wide-open spaces. One of the longest — the 326-mile Ohio to Erie Trail — takes cyclists from Cleveland to Cincinnati on a network of former railroad and canal paths. Here are a few more favorite bike trails to get your wheels turning.

 

Paved Paths


The Miami Valley Trails network, featuring more than 330 miles spanning the lush southwest portion of the state, offers up the nation's largest paved trail network. The 78-mile Little Miami Scenic Trail, one of the network’s most popular routes, takes bikers into two state parks including Little Miami State Park. It also goes near the fascinating historical Fort Ancient Earthworks & Nature Preserve in the Miami Valley, and through quaint countryside, cool forests and colorful small towns.

In the same trail network, the 93-mile Great Miami River Trail travels from Piqua to Middletown along the Great Miami River. Make a day of it and stop in Dayton for lunch. Try Basil's on Market for upscale bistro fare and a lovely river view, or Lock 27 Brewing for craft sips and hearty pub eats.

Travel to the southeast portion of the state to tackle the 21-mile paved Hockhocking Adena Bikeway, which connects Athens and Nelsonville in the Appalachian foothills. Work up an appetite? Stop by Casa Nueva for tasty Mexican food in Athens or Rhapsody Music & Dining in Nelsonville, a teaching restaurant for future chefs attending Hocking College.

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Moving Mountains

Ready to take your trail experience to the next level? Take a thrilling trip off the beaten path by riding Ohio's many mountain biking trails. Whether you're new to off-road biking or a seasoned rider looking for a challenge, there's a trail for you.

 

Beginner


For those just starting out, the trails at John Bryan State Park are a good place to get your feet wet — literally. Try the Power Line Loop trail to sample some twists and turns, along with creek crossings and a small ramp. While you're there, head into the charming nearby town of Yellow Springs to check out the galleries and grab a bite and a craft brew.

Mountain biking newbies will also love Beach Ridge Singletrack at the Oak Openings Preserve Beach Ridge Area, part of the Metroparks Toledo park system. The 12-mile biking path offers optional obstacles along the way so you can choose your level of difficulty as you gain confidence. Stay the night in the park's Cannaley Treehouse Village, a collection of treehouses and tent/hammock platforms that is the only one of its kind in the country.

 

Intermediate


Mountain bikers looking to take on new challenges shouldn't miss the Baileys Trail System that runs through the hills, gorges and meadows of Southeast Ohio. Try the Gorges Curves trail if you're looking to step up from beginner level. Once complete, the system will boast 88 miles of trails.

For more stunning vista views and exciting terrains, hit the East Rim Trail System at Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Northeast Ohio. Try your hand at higher speeds, obstacle navigation and jumps, then take some time to hike to the park's scenic waterfalls. You can even hop aboard the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad with your bike, ride the train one way and then bike back.

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Water Wonderland

Climb aboard your favorite watercraft and chart a course down one of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources' 16 water trails around the Buckeye State.

The popular Great Miami River Watershed Water Trail gives boaters, paddlers and anglers nearly 300 miles of splashing good fun along three rivers in Southwest Ohio. Take to the water or the paved biking trail and cruise into Dayton for some more river fun at Surf Dayton, where you can learn to surf whitewater rapids. Extend your trip upriver with a pit stop in Troy to check out the local shops and restaurants. Try a truly unique camping experience: an overnight in a floating tent with Float Troy.

In the southeast portion of the state, take a paddle on the Muskingum River Water Trail, which runs from Dresden to Marietta. This waterway has long been a transportation corridor for the state, and the historic hand-operated locks still work exactly as they did in the past. Pick up a Lock Pass at any lock or through the mail from the regional park office at Dillon State Park.

Ohio's many water trails will keep you cool this summer.

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Saddle Up

There's nothing quite like riding through nature on horseback. Equestrians have 800 miles of paths to explore in Ohio’s state park system, and 18 parks and five state forests feature horse-friendly campgrounds that include posts, tie-ups and roomy trailer parking.

Follow four bridle trails through meadows and forests at Caesar Creek State Park in Waynesville, and don't miss the six bridle trails at East Fork State Park in Bethel, which vary from 2 to 33 miles. Travel along the lakeshore trails at Alum Creek State Park in Delaware, or explore the scenic trails at Mohican State Park and the surrounding Mohican-Memorial State Forest near Loudonville. Try any of the six picturesque trails at Salt Fork State Park in Lore City, follow 20 miles of trails to the reservoir at West Branch State Park in Ravenna or explore the rolling hills of Shawnee State Forest from the saddle in West Portsmouth.

Don't have a horse of your own? No problem. Take a trail ride with the family-friendly human and horse crew at Uncle Buck's Riding Stable and Dance Barn. Guided tours trek the beautiful Coal Bucket Trail through Zaleski State Forest and the historic Moonville Tunnel. For horse rides through the Hocking Hills, book a visit to Blue Moon Acres stables in Laurelville. Call in advance for information on rider experience requirements and reservations.

With its wide range of bridle trails, Ohio is a premier location to go riding.

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Maumee State Forest

Get Your Motor Running

Rev up your off-highway vehicles and head for the 145 miles of motorized vehicle trails in Wayne National Forest, the largest OHV path network in the state. The trails offer fun terrains for a range of skill and difficulty levels — plus the great views and rich nature of the Appalachian foothills.

Nearby Pike State Forest in Latham offers 20 miles of winding trails along hollows and ridge tops for motorbike and OHV enthusiasts. There's also a small novice area for youngsters.

Ride the all-purpose vehicle (APV) trails at Maumee State Forest in Swanton. They're a big draw in the winter — the trails are open to snowmobiles when weather permits. Contact the state forest for snow condition updates.

Get off the highway and have fun on four wheels on Ohio's motorized trails.