Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have a very limited number of entertaining options, and lucky enough, Cincinnati is full of nature centers, forests and public parks that offer miles of hiking trails just waiting to be enjoyed. There is nothing quite like going on a hike with a few friends, where you can get some good old-fashioned, free and social distant fun. In this post, I will share my top 5 favorite hiking spots worth checking out around the city.
Mount Airy Forest- Beechwood, Quarry and Red Oak Trail
Mt. Airy Forest is about 10-minute drive to the North of UC Main Campus. It’s Cincinnati’s largest park and the lush wooded ridges and valleys, which make it hard to believe that downtown is only a few minutes away. Mt. Airy has Ohio’s only wheelchair accessible public tree house. I love coming here because it is not too far from campus, and there are lots of different loops that I can pick and choose from.
The most recent loop I walked through is the Beechwood, Quarry and Red Oak Trail, which is a 4.2 mile heavy trafficked loop trail that features lots of wild flowers and is rated as moderate. Dogs are allowed on trail as long as they are kept on leash.
For more information on each trail in Mt. Airy Park and to get map/directions, see this link here.
It’s the best view in town.
I have been there only once with my roommates, and we took a very short hike. So, not so much to review about the trails but more about the view. At the park’s highest park, you could see the whole Cincinnati and Covington area, and it is very beautiful. There are different things that you can try out here, such as backcountry trails, paved trails, renting a bike, or going for a tour at the Behinger-Cawford museum.
Learn more about Devou park here!
Ault Park- Valley Trail
Ault Valley Trail (see link) is a 1.3 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located about 5-6 miles to the East side of Cincinnati. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, running, and nature trips and is accessible year-round. The interesting part about this trail is the abandoned railroad bridge spanning the trail carried trains running between Cincinnati and Portsmouth, a route established in 1878.
Big Bone Lick State Park
This park was once home to mastodons, giant sloths and mammoths. They have an outdoor and indoor museum, a natural center, an actual herd of buffalo and of course, great trails. One down side is the distance- it’s a 30-40min drive instead of 10.
Check out this link for more information on different activities that you can do there:
Red River Gorge- Natural Bridge Trail
Well, to be fair, Natural Bridge Trail is not technically in the Red River Gorge area but rather in the Bridge State Resort Park. However, it is probably the best known site in the area, and many people mistakenly think it is actually part of the Red River Gorge Geological Area. There are approximately 7 different trails plus a Skylift to reach the top of Natural Bridge.
Best time to come here is early spring, when flowers are blooming, and autumn, when you can catch the leaves changing colors.