Sometimes, you just need to connect with nature and clear your mind.
Fortunately, Ohio is full of all kinds of hidden gems, nature preserves and lesser-known parks that are perfect for doing just that. Escape to these 16 little-known, quiet oases to relax and find some peace of mind:
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Glen Helen Nature Preserve (Yellow Springs)
You'll find the small town of Yellow Springs' official "Yellow Spring" (which actually looks more orange than yellow) at the Glen Helen Nature Preserve. The nature preserve covers 1,000 acres and features a 25-mile network of footpaths that allows visitors to observe 400-year-old trees, limestone cliffs with waterfalls and overhangs and more. It is located at 405 Corry St., Yellow Springs, OH 45387.
2. 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. You can find it at 7660 Cave Rd, Bainbridge, OH 45612.
3. Conkle's Hollow State Nature Preserve (Rockbridge)
This rugged, rocky gorge is often considered one of the deepest in Ohio with 200-ft. cliffs, according to the state park's website. You can hike the Gorge Trail or Rim Trail here. The Rim Trail features breathtaking views you have to see, but the Gorge Trail is just as beautiful. Conkle’s Hollow State Nature Preserve is located at 24858 Big Pine Rd., Rockbridge, OH 43149.
4. Magee Marsh Wildlife Refuge (Oak Harbor)
Arguably the state's top bird-wathcing 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 located at 13229 West State Route 2, Oak Harbor, OH 43449.
5. Lake Hope (McArthur)
This serene lake in Vinton County is the perfect place to relax when all you really need is the tranquility that only a quiet lake can bring. You'll find it at 27331 State Route 278, McArthur, OH 45651.
6. Sugarcreek Metro Park (Bellbrook)
This metro park in the Dayton area is home to some really, really old trees. Be sure to check out the 550-year-old Three Sisters and the Osage Orange Tunnel (pictured) , which is made up of trees that were purposefully planted in rows in the late 1800s to serve as a farm fence. Sugarcreek Metro Park is located at 4178 Conference Rd., Bellbrook, OH 45305.
7. 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. It's located at 4274 Waggoner Riffle Rd., West Union, OH 45693.
8. Nelson Kennedy Ledges State Park (Garrettsville)
While most people are familiar with the beauty of Ohio’s beloved Old Man’s Cave hiking trails and the Hocking Hills State Park, less people are aware of the similar breathtaking, adventurous nature hike you will experience at Nelson Kennedy Ledges State Park. Portage County is home to this 160-acre park, which features rugged cliffs, hidden waterfalls, unique hiking trails and diverse plant life. You'll find it at 12440 OH-282, Garrettsville, OH 44231.
9. Mineral Springs Lake (Peebles)
Tucked away in Adams County, you’ll find the hidden gem of Mineral Springs Lake, a picturesque lake fed by natural spring water that’s loaded with nature’s healthy minerals. The lake covers more than 100 aces with five and a half miles of peaceful shoreline. It is surrounded by approximately 500 acres of serene nature. Mineral Springs Lake is located at 160 Bluegill Rd., Peebles, OH 45660.
10. Mt. Airy Forest (Cincinnati)
This little-known park features approximately 14 miles of hiking trails and 16 miles of bridle trails, as well as a pretty epic treehouse. "Everybody’s Tree House" (pictured) is the only public tree house in the tri-state area. (It's also wheelchair accessible.) Mt. Airy Forest is located at 5083 Colerain Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45223.
11. Dundee Falls (Beach City)
This Tuscarawas County waterfall is part of the Beach City Wildlife Area. It's best seen after heavy rainfall, but it's a gorgeous hiking area year-round. You'll find it at 96 Dundee Wilmot Road Northwest, Beach City, OH 44608.
12. Scioto Grove Metro Park (Grove City)
Part of the Central Ohio Park System, Scioto Grove Metro Park is a 620-acre park along the Scioto River featuring stunning forests and scenic bluffs overlooking the river. It is located at 5172 Jackson Pike, Grove City, OH 43123.
13. Mill Creek Park (Youngstown)
Covering approximately 4,400 acres, Mill Creek Park is a true gem amid the hustle and bustle of the city. It’s the last thing you’d expect to stumble upon in Youngstown, but if (or when) you do, you won’t want to leave. You'll find it at 2303 McCollum Rd., Youngstown, OH 44509.
14. Dysart Woods (Belmont)
Near the village of Belmont within the Dysart Woods, you will find some of Ohio's oldest and largest trees. Though the woods stretches for 455 acres, only about 50 of the 140 ft. tall, 4 ft. in diameter and 300-400 year-old trees are still there.
15. Mount Jeez (Monroe Township)
Within the Mohican Hills in Monroe Township, you’ll find one of Ohio’s most stunning summits. At 1,310 ft. tall, Mount Jeez offers a wide open, beautiful view of Ohio’s countryside. (You can find the path for Mount Jeez Overlook off of Pleasant Valley Road.)
16. Charleston Falls Preserve (Tipp City)
Charleston Falls Preserve is the perfect place to explore when you want a short hike to a beautiful destination. With more than 216 acres of prairie and forests, this park is a great place to hike and see wildlife. The preserve is home to more than 3 miles of trails, and the trek to the falls is a fairly easy hike. Charleston Falls Preserve is located at 2535 Ross Rd, Tipp City, OH 45371.
Have you ever been to any of these places? Where is your favorite place in Ohio to escape in nature? Share your thoughts and experiences with us!