Exploring the state parks of Ohio is one of the best ways to embrace the beauty of Ohio. However, there are several other little known parks, nature preserves and metro parks that are just as beautiful to explore—many of which have some pretty cool features you won’t find in state parks. Explore castles, overlooks, tree tunnels and more within these 11 underrated parks in Ohio that will bring out the adventurer in you.
1. Scioto Grove Metro Park
Park 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.
2. Mt. Airy Forest
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.
3. Cantwell Cliffs
A remote park within the Hiking Hills, Cantwell Cliffs will most definitely bring out your adventurous side. It features a deep valley, steep cliffs and even a rock shelter that visitors can explore. Although the trail is only a 1-mile loop, it isn’t for the faint of heart―but the scenery you’ll encounter along the way makes the journey more than worth while. Cantwell Cliffs is located at OH-374, Rockbridge, OH 43149.
4. North Chagrin Reservation
Part of the Cleveland Metro Parks, this particular park is home to the beloved Squire's Castle. North Chagrin Reservation also features a nature center and nature education building, numerous trails and picnic areas. It is located at 3037 Som Center Rd,, Willoughby Hills, OH 44094.
5. Sugarcreek Metro Park
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.
6. Lake Erie Bluffs
This stunning beachfront metropark features 600 acres, including 40-foot-high beach bluffs, 9,000 feet of shoreline and perfectly picturesque beaches. The park just 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.
7. Rocky River Reservation
The All Purpose Trail at Rocky River Reservation (pictured) features scenic views of the Rocky River and a total of 13.6 miles for cycling, walking, skating, etc. Along this trail you'll encounter others, such as the 1.3-mile Rockcliff Springs Fitness Trail, (which we also recommend.)
8. Glen Helen Nature Preserve
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.
9. Mill Creek Metro Park
Youngstown's metro park features some beautiful scenery and landmarks. The 1.5-mile asphalt surface East Cohasset Hike/Bike Trail features a scenic route above Lake Cohasset. It's perfect for a leisurely day hike. Mill Creek Park is located at 2303 McCollum Rd., Youngstown, OH 44509.
10. Oak Openings Preserve Metropark
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. Oak Openings is operated by Metroparks of the Toledo Area and is located at 4139 Girdham Rd., Swanton, OH 43558.
11. Clear Creek Metro Park
Part of the Columbus & Franklin County Metro Parks System, this metro park features 5,300 acres, blackhand sandstone cliffs, ravines and creeks to explore. It is located at 185, Clear Creek Rd., Rockbridge, OH 43149.
Have you ever been to any of these parks before? What other parks in Ohio are underrrated?