If you are an outdoor enthusiast like me, you will certainly be looking forward to enjoying some hiking trails in Columbus, Ohio.
Located along the Scioto River, the city is home to numerous parks with water fountains and walking trails. I love a good city break but love nature trails even more.
You may have already read my adventure on the Norweigian hiking trails of Trolltunga, Mount Ulriken or even the Walsh mountain of Snowdonia so while I was in Columbus I was not going to miss out on some of the hiking in Ohio. So, are you curious to learn more? Keep reading and check our list with the best trails for hiking near Columbus.
- 1 The Best Hikes In Columbus Ohio
- 1.1 Ash Cave – Hocking Hills State Park
- 1.2 Highbanks Metro Park – Overlook and Dripping Rock Trail
- 1.3 Blacklick Woods Metro Park – Beech Trail
- 1.4 Alum Creek State Park – Rocks and Roots Trail
- 1.5 Scioto Trail State Park – The DeBroad Vista Trail
- 1.6 Salt Fork State Park – Stone House Loop Trail
- 1.7 Rising Park – Mount Pleasant
- 1.8 Gahanna Woods – Gahanna Woods Loop
- 1.9 Cuyahoga Valley National Park – Brandywine Gorge Trail Loop
- 1.10 Denison Biological Reserve – Woodcock Trail
The Best Hikes In Columbus Ohio
I love the easy access Columbus has when it comes to nature trails and jus places to unwind and escape the city. Also, you dont necessarily have to live in Columbus to enjoy these.
They are accessible from other cities too not just those looking for hiking around Columbus, so if you are looking for the best hiking spots in Ohio, these will very much be appearing on many lists for trails in the state. Ohio’s trails are among America’s best day hikes.
Ash Cave – Hocking Hills State Park
Situated just over an hour away from Ohio, Hocking Hills State Park is a must-see for anyone looking for a quiet escape in the wilderness.
Home to 25 miles of hiking trails, numerous stunning waterfalls and unusual caves, the park will allow you to recharge your batteries while admiring the beautiful natural surrounding.
Ash Cave is by far the most popular and spectacular tourist sight in the park. The half-mile hike is relatively easy, yet absolutely stunning as you are going through a narrow gorge before reaching the largest recess cave in the state park. This was definitely one of my favourites as we also did horse riding nearby.
Highbanks Metro Park – Overlook and Dripping Rock Trail
If you do not have much time and would like to stay within Columbus, you should go to Highbanks Metro Park.
Covering a total territory of 1000 acres, the park is home to approximately 10 trails. You will find it difficult to believe that you are still in the city, while hiking through the deep forest and enjoying the scenic views of Olentangy River.
One of the most popular paths in the park is the 5-mile Overlook and Dripping Rock Trail. Start at the visitor center and follow the meandering trail to reach the Overlook Deck located on a 100-feet-tall-cliff above the river.
Blacklick Woods Metro Park – Beech Trail
Located on the outskirts of Columbus, Ohio, Baclick Woods Metro Park is particularly convenient for people staying on the eastern side of the city. The park covers only around 650 acres, but it is a great spot for a nature escape away from the busy city life.
Most trails are very short and easy, which makes the park a perfect family-friendly picnic area. Follow the Beech Trail as it winds through the forest, enjoy the beautiful fields of spring wildflowers and find a quiet spot for your picnic lunch.
Alum Creek State Park – Rocks and Roots Trail
Regardless if you are looking for a beach spot, place to try some outdoor activities or some hiking trails, Alum Creek State Park has it all.
Spreading on a territory of around 4630 acres, the park has a large water reservoir, which is widely visited by fishermen, boat owners and swimmers.
Besides the water activities, though, the park has a system of hiking trails, the most popular of which is the Rocks and Roots path.
The moderate 6-mile hike will take you through the forests, while offering beautiful views of the lake. If you enjoy bird watching, make sure to bring your binoculars as well.
Scioto Trail State Park – The DeBroad Vista Trail
Are you looking for an off-the-beaten-path location that is close enough to Columbus, Ohio, but at the same time it will provide you with a less touristy and more secluded nature experience?
Scioto Trail State Park is the place for you! Situated within the Scioto state forest, the park covers just 218 acres, which makes is a little hidden oasis perfect for a picnic or a short hike.
As the area is quite popular among bikers, you should certainly follow the hikers only The DeBroad Vista Trail.
Admire the stunning vistas of the Scioto River Valley on this 2.5 hiking trail through the peaceful and quiet state park. The scenery alone was enough to add this on the list of the coolest hiking trails near Columbus.
Salt Fork State Park – Stone House Loop Trail
Approximately an hour and a half away from Columbus, Ohio, you will find the biggest state park in the state. Spreading on a territory of almost 17,300 acres, Salt Fork is the place to be if you are a sport enthusiast.
From kayaking to fishing, the large water reservoir is the best place to have a fun day filled with activities in the area.
Additionally, the park has around 11 trails to choose from. If your furry friends are visiting with you, make sure to head to Stone House Loop Trail, which is dog-friendly.
Rising Park – Mount Pleasant
Enjoy the breathtaking mountain scenery as the sun is setting behind the hills at Rising Park. Located in the town of Lancaster, the park is approximately 45 minutes drive from Columbus.
Rising Park offers a number of hiking trails as well as tennis courts, ponds and caves, however, the main attraction is the highest point – Mount Pleasant.
Make sure to head in the late afternoon to be able to admire the panoramic sunset views of green hills rising high above the town of Lancaster underneath. There is plenty on offer and among the best hiking spots in Ohio.
Gahanna Woods – Gahanna Woods Loop
The green nature and the colourful fields of wildflowers at Gahanna Woods will transfer you into a fairy tale world, while still being in the middle of the city.
This city park is a very popular urban getaway especially among families with small children. Visitors can choose between numerous shorter trails or they can follow the entire Gahanna Woods Loop for around 3 miles.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park – Brandywine Gorge Trail Loop
One of the most spectacular natural areas near Columbus, Ohio is Cyahoga Valley National Park. The massive park covers more than 32,900 acres and is a real hiking paradise.
Home to a huge diversity of flora and fauna, the park features deep green forests, beautiful winding rivers and stunning waterfalls.
Visitors can choose between 125 miles of hiking trails, however, the Brandywine Gorge Trail Loop is the one that deserves your attention the most. The moderately difficult 1.4 miles rocky trail will take you to a peaceful refreshing creek where you can even swim. Keep in mind that the park is 2 hours away from Columbus, though, so make sure that you plan your visit in advance. For more inspiration grab a copy of Moon’s guide to the best USA National Parks.
Denison Biological Reserve – Woodcock Trail
If you are an animal lover, you should certainly plan a visit to Denison Biological Reserve. The park spans across 350 acres of quiet ponds, green forests, old plantations and colourful orchards.
All trails around the reserve are known to be extremely scenic with a high chance to take a quick glimpse of deer. Get a map at the entrance to easily navigate your way around the park.
If you are looking for an easy path, you can follow the Woodcock Trail, which has a boardwalk for a large portion of it and makes it conveniently accessible for the entire family.
Would you like to visit any of these 10 Best Hiking Trails in (or near) Columbus, Ohio? Which one is on top of your list?
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