You did it. You put on your hiking shoes. Grabbed your water. Maybe brought along a friend, kiddo or furry companion. You made the trek, and embraced Nature in one of the ways she loves best—you simply got outside … and took a hike.
And there was that moment, remember? When you were deep in the shady, sun-dappled woods. At the top of a steep vista you’d huffed up to climb. Rounding that long, lazy bend or finally emerging from a copse-laden path—you stopped and stared ... and smiled. You could hear the birds trill, maybe a bee’s buzzy mm-hmm, or a creek murmuring its sweet water song. Your shoulders relaxed, your brow softened. You could hear your own breath, made louder with a sigh of contentment. And you thought, yeah, this was a great idea.
For some of us, hiking out among the wild (wild-ish for this part of Ohio) is food for the soul. Others prefer a more tamed (paved) path, enjoying flora and fauna while still in proximity to restrooms and refreshment. Fortunately for us, we’re surrounded by both.
Find your moment—your yeah, great idea moment—at any (or all) of these six local trails. Each is ideal and idyllic in its own way, whether planning an all-day family outing or a simple solo trek. No matter the choice, your road awaits.
Little Miami Scenic Trail, #1
This rare gem can boast its path prowess as the third longest paved trail in the nation, covering just over 78 miles and “the sounds and ‘feel’ of a forest,” Eric Partee of the LMC says. The trail itself is dotted with numerous nature preserves, restrooms, restaurants, shops, parks and vistas—best of all, it runs parallel to the Little Miami. “Dedicated wood-chip trails lead you down to the river’s edge for more breathtaking views and the river experience—a real treat!” Free and open year-round; maps and more: LittleMiami.org
The Grailville Trails, #2
Located just up the hill from historic downtown and nestled among 75 acres, this natural, unpaved oasis is a bit different from the rest. “The Trails include a changing terrain and meander—versus a set loop,” Terrie Puckett of the Grail offers. “Many find the loop by O’Bannon Creek to be one of the most beautiful, still and serene areas around.” Birdwatching, butterfly gardens, an edible forest (oh yes) and outdoor labyrinth—perfect for meditating—round out this distinctive three-trail hiking escape. Leashed dogs welcome; free and open during daylight hours. Grail-US.org/Where-We-Are/Grailville/
Camp Dennison Nature Trail, #3
Just outside the heart of the town of Camp Dennison (north of SR28 and inside the 275 loop) lies 12 acres of verdant, lush forest and one stellar trail. Find yourself surrounded by woodlands and yet still somewhat off the beaten path—a half-mile loop that’s tucked away and marked by its signature crushed limestone trail base. Family friendly, free to use and open year-round, it’s a short, sweet getaway that shines between March and November. Nature trip, anyone? Directions: SymmesTownship.org/Departments/Parks-5/
Cincinnati Nature Center, #4
Two properties. More than 1,700 acres. Nearly 20 miles of trails for all levels, all ages. “It’s an outdoor experience for everyone!” Marian Perkowski of the Nature Center says. An experience indeed—consider it your hometown hiking mecca, complete with opportunities to hike at night and other guided events hosted by their experienced staff. “Trails wind through fields and forests, by ponds and streams … incredible vistas at every turn.” You can even participate in their Hike for Your Health challenge—stamp your passport after completing each of the 17 trails. Whether you’re up for serious, strenuous trekking or easy-going ambles, the Nature Center has it all. Member/nonmember registration and hours: CincyNature.org
Fort Ancient, #5
From downtown Loveland, Oregonia is only about a 30-minute drive up 71 … and this one’s worth the trip. Boasting a museum with 9,000 square feet of exhibitions, 18,000 feet of earthworks and a prehistoric hilltop enclosure, Fort Ancient is a 2,000-year-old monument—and a phenomenal place to hike. More than 2.5 miles of trails coincide with an up-close brush with history—hikers and history buffs unite! Plus, it’s perfect for families to explore—the Connector trail is an easy-going (and educational) quarter mile, just right for little legs. Admission fees and open dates: FortAncient.org
Sharon Woods Trails, #6
It’s a trifecta of trails—pick your path and get moving at this 730-acre park near the heart of Sharonville. First up, the Gorge Trail—a moderate hike at .7 miles (one way), it’s also a haven for rockhounds, budding geologists and avian enthusiasts. Or, explore the Shared-Use Trail—a mellow 2.6-mile loop teeming with nature. Look for sunning snakes, wood ducks and maybe a beaver or two! Or try the Fitness Trail—a wide, one-mile choice that loops back on itself and follows the park’s boundary. Open year-round; maps and more: GreatParks.org/Parks/Sharon-Woods