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Five great Central Ohio hikes NOT in the Hocking Hills

Five great Central Ohio hikes NOT in the Hocking Hills

Melinda Green

Looking for a great fall hike, but want to avoid the masses at you-know-where? Heidi Hetzel-Evans, spokesperson for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, told us about some of ODNR’s favorite fall trails. Check out their recommendations and if you really want to get a jump on planning your trip, download the free DETOUR app that contains maps for trails all over Ohio.

Not far from the quaint town of Clifton and its famous mill is Clifton Gorge State Nature Preserve in Yellow Springs. The one-mile, natural Gorge and Rim trails—plus the short Narrows trail—provide different levels of challenge, along with different views of the Little Miami River and its unique dolomite and limestone features. 

Bonus: The adjoining John Bryan State Park


For an adventure, hit the paved Blackhand Trail at Blackhand Gorge State Nature Preserve in Heath. It’s the only state nature preserve trail that allows pets, skateboards, and bicycling. Although erosion from the Licking River sometimes closes a portion of the trail, spending time along the river and in the deep woods and seeing the Black Hand Sandstone formation is a beautiful experience.

Bonus: Nearby Dillon State Park 

Have little ones in tow? Try the Alum Creek Story Book Trail at Alum Creek State Park in Delaware. It’s smooth gravel, accessible to strollers and wheelchairs. At just a half mile, it’s manageable for almost everyone. There’s a “Little Library” for book trading. And it introduces little visitors to the joys of reading, combining pages from a children’s book with fun outdoor exploration.

Bonus: Take a walk on the beach nearby!

Of course, we have to mention Mohican State Park in Loudonville. The two-mile, natural trail to Lyons Falls is moderately difficult and near a scenic covered bridge. Want more? Like, a lot more? Bring water, keep going, and hike the entire, challenging, 11-mile Hemlock Gorge loop, with great views of the Mohican River.

Bonus: A new swinging footbridge connecting the Hemlock Gorge and Gorge Overlook trails

Finally, for a hike of a different sort, try the new access path at Buckeye Lake State Park in Millersport. This 4.1-mile trail along the water is wheelchair- and bicycle-friendly, with views of the dam, boating areas, marinas, and the historic Yacht Club. Pack a picnic lunch and make it a day trip!

Bonus: Bring your rods and go fishing on the ADA-friendly fishing pier. 

Of course, check park and trail hours and policies beforehand (pets are not always permitted), and always stay on marked trails for safety. For more information, visit

If you like this, read: This Central Ohio pumpkin festival is one of the biggest in the entire world


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