With the days getting shorter and winter just around the corner, many nature lovers have only one thing on their mind: hiking. Winter showcases Ohio’s natural beauty particularly well, with frozen waterfalls and the recess caves and natural bridges all in white. If you love breathtaking landscapes of trees and rocks covered in freshly fallen snow, this is definitely the place to be.
Ohio plays host to many organized hikes throughout the winter season. Here are some of our top picks:
Hocking Hills Annual Winter Hike
If you can make only one hiking trip this year, this is it. Now in its 49th year, the Hocking Hills Annual Winter Hike is the grandfather of all winter hikes in Ohio. In 2013, more than 5000 people participated in this five-hour excursion through Hocking Hills State Park. The 2014 hike takes place on January 18, starting between 9 and 11 a.m. Naturalists are available for those interested in an educational experience, and refreshments including bean soup, doughnuts, and hot drinks are provided. The hike is free, but donations are suggested.
You can also take your special someone for a romantic walk through Hocking Hills during the annual Sweetheart Hike, which in 2014 will take place on February 15.
Buckeye Trail Hikes
The Buckeye Trail stretches 1445 miles, forming a large loop around Ohio. By hiking this trail, you can literally explore every corner of the state—just follow the blue blazes! The Buckeye Trail Association has three winter hikes planned for 2014: Hueston Woods on January 20, Findley State Park on February 4, and Burr Oak State Park on February 8. Learn more about these hikes and the trail in general on the Buckeye Trail Associate website.
Central Ohio is home to seventeen Metroparks that cover more than 27,000 acres and contain roughly 200 miles of hiking trails. In most of the parks, the trails are open all winter, and some of them are plowed. If you have any energy left after your hike, you can also sled, ice skate, and cross-country ski. Click here for more information about visiting the Metroparks in winter.
Other Scheduled Hikes
Many other scheduled hikes take place throughout Ohio in winter. Keep your eyes open for more info about hikes in these picturesque locations:
As you head out to play in Ohio’s winter wonderland, be prepared—it can get cold! Be sure to wear warm clothes in plenty of layers and bring water and snacks. If you are hiking with your family, bundle up the kids and check in advance to see if the parks allow dogs (some do, some don’t).
Every year, Ohio denizens and visitors put on their parkas and take to the trails. Join them this year, and discover the unmatched vistas of this stunning region.