Do you enjoy being out in nature? There’s nothing like being able to hear yourself think and capturing the perfect photo of wildlife. From well known parks and waterfalls to little-known nature preserves and state forests, the following are 12 of our favorite destinations to visit in Ohio nature. See which ones you’ve explored and which ones belong on your bucket list for future adventures:
1. Edge of Appalachia Nature Preserve (West Union)
The Edge of Appalachia Preserve in Adams County is best known for its biological diversity, steep cliffs and the Wilderness Trail; a 2 1/2-mile loop that's perfect for a one-day hike.
2. The Wilds (Cumberland)
Nomad Ridge at The Wilds in Cumberland is arguably one of Ohio’s best kept secrets. It’s a hidden gem tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the city and miles away from the small town life. This glampground features several private yurts that provide all the comforts of home just steps away from open pastures, breathing views and exotic animals.
3. Hocking Hills State Park (Logan)
If you’ve yet to hike the Old Man’s Cave trail at Hocking Hills State Park in Logan, you’re truly missing out. It’s arguably the most beautiful hiking trail in Ohio—and it will make you feel like you’re temporarily living in a "Lord of the Rings" film. At approximately one mile in length, this gorgeous trail takes about an hour to complete, so it’s perfect for a day hike you can take your time exploring.
4. Shawnee State Forest (West Portsmouth)
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.
5. Holden Arboretum Canopy Walk (Kirtland)
The Judith and Maynard H. Murch Canopy Walk at Holden Arboretum in Kirtland, Ohio features a 500 ft. long elevated walkway suspended 65 ft. above the forest floor. It gives visitors a truly unique perspective of the forest and the animals that live among the trees. And as an added bonus, there’s an observation tower on site that takes you up even further up—so much further that you end up above the trees.
6. Oak Openings Metro Park (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—and it will truly make you feel like you’re not in Ohio anymore.
7. Highlands Nature Sanctuary (Bainbridge)
Once a sacred spot to the Shawnee and Iroquois tribes, this 2,200-acre tract in Ross County is one of only a few privately owned state nature preserves in Ohio. Peaceful and serene, this is a rare spot where you can hear yourself think.
8. Magee Marsh State Wildlife Area (Oak Harbor)
Magee Marsh Wildlife Area is arguably the state's top bird-watching spot—featuring more than 300 species of birds. You can find this peaceful refuge along western Lake Erie, between Toledo and Port Clinton. It's a peaceful refuge and a bird watcher's paradise.
9. Wayne National Forest (Multiple locations)
Have you ever wondered where the most remote, isolated spot in Ohio is? Southeast Ohio is home to some breathtaking scenery and Ohio’s only national forest. Encompassing more than a quarter million acres of Appalachian foothills, Wayne National Forest stretches across 12 counties in southeast Ohio.
10. Brandywine Falls (Sagamore Hills Township)
Cuyahoga Valley National Park in northeast Ohio is home to a breathtaking 65-foot waterfall that flows from Brandywine Creek. Known as Brandywine Falls, these easily accessible, beautiful falls are a must-see highlight within the park.
11. Lake Erie Bluffs (Perry)
This stunning beachfront metropark features 600 acres, including 40-foot-high beach bluffs, 9,000 feet of shoreline and perfectly picturesque beaches. You'll also find a 50-ft. coastal observation tower that features breathtaking views of the lake and bluffs.
12. Zaleski State Forest (Zaleski)
Ohio's second largest state forest covers 26,827 acres. 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.)
Have you explored all of these places before? What other parks or forests would you add to this list? Let us know!
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Richard and Lucile Durrell Edge of Appalachia Preserve System, 4274 Waggoner Riffle Rd, West Union, OH 45693, USA
The Wilds, 14000 International Rd, Cumberland, OH 43732, USA
Hocking Hills State Park, Logan, OH, USA
Shawnee State Forest Headquarters, 13291 US-52, West Portsmouth, OH 45663, USA
The Holden Arboretum, 9550 Sperry Rd, Kirtland, OH 44094, USA
Oak Openings Preserve Metropark, 4139 Girdham Rd, Swanton, OH 43558, USA
Highlands Nature Sanctuary, 7660 Cave Rd, Bainbridge, OH 45612, USA
13229 OH-105, Oak Harbor, OH 43449, USA
13700 US-33, Nelsonville, OH 45764, USA
Brandywine Falls, 8176 Brandywine Rd, Northfield, OH 44067, USA
Lake Erie Bluffs, 2901 Clark Rd, Perry, OH 44077, USA
Zaleski State Forest, OH-278, Zaleski, OH 45698, USA