With spring on the way, it’s time to start thinking about how you’re going to make the most of the sunshine, warmer weather and fresh air. Fortunately for you, Ohio is full of several beautiful state parks and other outdoor destinations to explore. The following are 13 perfect places to go in Ohio if you’re feeling adventurous.
1. Od Man's Cave (Hocking Hills State Park)
April Dray/Only In Your State
Hocking Hills State Park is arguably Ohio's most beloved state park, where waterfalls, caves and hiking trails abound. The Old Man's Cave hiking trails feature approximately 5.1 miles of sandstone gorges, breathtaking waterfalls, eerie caves and unique rock formations that will make you feel like you're living in a "Lord of the Rings" film.
2. Zaleski State Forest (Vinton and Athens counties)
For the advanced hiker who can backpack through the woods overnight, Zaleski State Forest trails are a must-do. Along the way, the trails feature vacant farms, abandoned mines, beautiful views, Indian ceremonial grounds and an old mining town. The North Loop is approximately 18.4 miles, and the South Loop is approximately 11.7 miles.
3. Ohio Caverns (West Liberty)
"America's Most Colorful Caverns" can be found in West Liberty, Ohio. The caverns were formed thousands of years ago when an underground river cut through ancient limestone and created vast rooms and passageways. These passageways are now filled with crystal stalactites, stalagmites and many other formations. Within the Ohio Caverns is one of the world's largest and most perfectly formed stalactites. Crystal King (pictured) is nearly five feet long, weighing an estimated 400 pounds, and is estimated to be more than 200,000 years old.
4. Cuyahoga Valley National Park (Peninsula)
Ohio's very own national park features stunning waterfalls (pictured: Brandywine Falls), incredible views and rugged ledges to explore.
5. Shawnee State Forest (Scioto and Adams counties
Ohio's largest state forest is known as "The Little Smokies of Ohio," and covers 63,747 acres. It features 60 miles of bridle and hiking trails, 60 miles of backpacking trails, 58 horse camp sites and an 8,000-acre wilderness.
6. William H. Harsha Lake (Batavia)
Formerly known as East Fork Lake and the site of two abandoned gold mines, this lake is well known for its beautiful falls and Ordovician fossil beds.
7. Nelson Kennedy Ledges State Park (Nelson Township)
Nelson Kennedy Ledges provides a similar (and lesser known) adventurous experience to the well known Old Man's Cave hiking trail at Hocking Hills State Park. Portage County is home to this 160-acre park, which features rugged cliffs, unique hiking trails (complete with a "Dwarf's Pass," pictured above) and diverse plant life.
8. Oak Openings (Swanton)
Close to Toledo you'll find what's considered to be Ohio's rarest ecosystem (and one of the world's rarest ecosystems) where rare plants and animals, oak forests, sand dunes, savannas, tall-grass prairies and swamp forests all thrive in harmony. The Oak Openings Preserve Metropark is located in Swanton and operated by Metroparks of the Toledo Area.
9. Buzzard’s Roost Nature Preserve (Chillicothe)
April Dray/Only In Your State
This nature preserve features a 600 ft. overlook of the Paint Creek Valley within the Ross County Park District.
10. Seneca Caverns (Bellevue)
Located in Bellevue, Ohio is another geographical wonder that was first discovered in 1872. When you venture to these caverns you will travel through "The Earth Crack" and view the Ole' Mist'ry River.
11. Mohican-Memorial State Forest (Ashland County)
This beautiful 4,525-acre forest features several hiking trails that lead to attractions such as Pine Run Creek, the Fire Tower and Clearfork Gorge. (Pictured: Big Lyons Falls, a 300-foot deep sandstone gorge with two beautiful waterfalls.)
12. John Bryan State Park and Clifton Gorge State Nature Preserve (Yellow Springs)
The calm waters of the Little Miami River and the deep limestone chasm featured at this nature destination are stunning no matter the season.
13. Bedford Reservation (Walton Hills)
Within the Cleveland Metroparks, you'll find several enchanting falls at Bedford Reservation.
Have you been to any of these places? What other places in Ohio are perfect to go to when you’re feeling adventurous?