Ohio is beautiful—and we have the national and state parks to prove it. From secret/not-so-secret caves to hidden waterfalls, nature parks in Ohio showcase some of the best outdoor scenery you may ever encounter. (Unless, of course, you’re fortunate enough to visit the Grand Canyon or something—but that’s not a fair comparison.)
1) Hocking Hills State Park (Hocking County)
With a total of six parks that stretch across the entire county, this destination is arguably Ohio's most beloved place to hike, explore, and take inspiring photos at. Old Man's Cave, Cedar Falls. the Rock House, and Ash Cave are just a few of the gems this nature getaway has to offer.
Hocking Hills was also rated number 7 out of "America's 10 Best State Parks" by Fodor's Travel in 2014.
2) Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Ohio's only national park preserves 33,000 acres along 22 miles of the Cuyahoga River between Cleveland and Akron.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park is home to Ohio's beloved Brandywine Falls.
3) Mohican State Park (Ashland County)
Surrounded by the 4,525-acre Mohican-Memorial State Forest, this beautiful state park sits just outside of Loudonville.
4) Indian Lake State Park (Lakeview)
In addition to lake access for boating, swimming and fishing, several picnic spots, hiking trails, and playgrounds abound at this 800-acre state park.
5) Alum Creek State Park (Delaware County)
Alum Creek Reservoir holds 3,387 acres of water and is open to fishing, boating, ice fishing, ice boating, and swimming. Alum Creek Lake was constructed in the 70s as part of the Flood Control Act of 1962.
6) Nelson Ledges Quarry Park (Garrettsville)
Camping, swimming, hiking and cliff diving are just some of the things you can do at this park, known for its quartz and sandstone cliffs.
7) Shawnee State Park (Portsmouth)
This popular park is tucked away in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains near the Ohio River.
8) Paint Creek State Park (Bainbridge)
In addition to the usual outdoor activities, this park features an amphitheater and even mini golf.
9) South Bass Island State Park (Clinton)
This park features the serene shores of Lake Erie and a quiet wooded campground for those looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of Put-In-Bay.
10) Lake Hope State Park (Vinton County)
Surrounded by the Zaleski State Forest and centered on Lake Hope, is this 2,983-acre state park, (and legend has it that the historical Hope Furnace is haunted.)
11) Strouds Run State Park (Athens County)
Over 2,000 acres of this state park features multiple hiking trails, cabin getaways, and swimming and boating on Dow Lake.
12) Quail Hollow State Park (Hartville)
In addition to multiple hiking trails, this state park features herb gardens and the Carriage House Nature Preserve.
Grab a back pack, water bottle, and a friend, but keep the smart phone packed away until it’s only absolutely necessary to have it. Nature’s calling—and a smart phone isn’t the way to answer her.