Here in Ohio, we’ve got several little-known parks and nature preserves that are perfect when you need a little adventure in your life but don’t have the entire weekend to explore a state park. The following are some of our favorite little-known parks in the Buckeye State.
1. 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.
2. Hell Hollow Wilderness Area (Thompson)
Explore rugged slopes, little-known waterfalls and a deep ravine at this underrated park in northeast Ohio. With more than 200 steps leading down into the ravine, it feels like you're temporarily traveling to another world. Hell Hollow Wilderness Area is located at 14437 Leroy Center Rd., Thompson, OH 44086.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. Glenwood Gardens (Cincinnati)
Glenwood Gardens in Cincinnati is another one of Ohio’s hidden gems just waiting to be explored. It features a Discovery Garden, a motorized train display and a pretty epic treehouse to play in. Glenwood Gardens is located at 10397 Springfield Pike, Cincinnati, OH 45215.
8. Topiary Park (Columbus)
Few people know about the quaint, seven-acre park in Columbus that features one of Ohio’s most unique gardens, where art and plant life blend. It is a "landscape of a painting of a landscape," according to the park’s website. Specifically, the topiary garden depicts Georges Seurat’s famous painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Isle of La Grand Jatte—and it is the only known topiary representation of a painting. Topiary Park is located at 480 E Town St., Columbus, OH 43215.
9. African Safari Wildlife Park (Port Clinton)
April Dray/Only In Your State
Port Clinton is home to a unique park that’s perfect for a family day trip. The African Safari Wildlife Park is a walk and drive-thru park that features exotic animals―many of which you can feed yourself. It is located at 267 S Lightner Road, Port Clinton, OH 43452.
10. 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. The park recently opened a 50-ft. coastal observation tower that features 360-degree breathtaking views of the lake and bluffs. It is located at 2901 Clark Rd., Perry, OH 44081.
Have you been to any of these parks before? What’s your favorite little-known park in Ohio? Let us know!