The warmer weather is here and we are all looking for more opportunities to get outside and get moving. Going for a hike or walk is a great way for the family to get out in nature together. There are so many beautiful places nearby for your next outdoor adventure! There are trails of all distances in these locations and they are some of our favorite places to hike as a family. Be sure to pack hats and sunglasses, sunscreen and all the snacks, and have fun exploring Columbus on foot!
Do you have favorite spots to hike that aren’t on this list? Send me an email at: [email protected]!
We love visiting Highbanks Metro Park! It is one of the Metro Parks that has a Visitors Center which is great if you need a break from the elements. There are a lot of trails at the park, ranging from easy to more difficult, so you can look at a park map and decide which one is best for your family. Highbanks also has a number of shelters, picnic tables and playgrounds once you are done hiking.
Scioto Grove Metro Park has some great hiking, and also one of my daughter’s favorite playgrounds. Some of the trails do take you down close to the river and can get very muddy after a lot of rain, so plan accordingly. We have also found this one tends to have more bugs than some of the other parks, so I recommend bringing bug spray in case you need it.
We love Deer Haven when we want a trail that is shaded. We usually do a trail that is about 1 mile through the trees, so on warm and sunny days it’s a nice way to hike, but out of the sun. There is also a small nature center here as well.
Clear Creek reminds us a lot of hiking at Hocking Hills, but it’s not quite as far as Hocking Hills is from Columbus, and not as crowded. There are a lot of hills at this park, but we find the hiking to be not too difficult and it really is quite pretty, especially in the fall and spring months. Our family loves fishing and there is a really great fishing spot at this park that we enjoy.
Chestnut Ridge is the first ridge in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. We recently hiked here and combined two trails into a 2 mile hike. The trail itself was easy, but there was a large climb which brought us great views at the top but could tire out kids quickly, especially on hotter days. It is located near Canal Winchester but worth the drive for the rolling hills and pretty scenary!
We love Glacier Ridge! There are a number of trails, and some are paved. The park also has a dog park, a few playgrounds, and the Challenge Course (which is my daughter’s favorite thing to do at the park). We like to go for a hike, and then head to the Challenge Course to try the various obstacles along the way.
Shale Hollow is a great park if you also want to do some creeking and hiking. There are some shorter hiking trails, and a lot of it is shaded. Every time we have been there, the water has been very shallow, so it’s perfect to splash in and play with the rocks. You’ll always want to double check the water levels at the time of your visit. Be sure to pack a change of clothes and water shoes, or dry shoes to change into when you are done.
This is a great option if you’re looking for some hiking right in the middle of Columbus! Located along the banks of the Scioto River just south of downtown Columbus, there is a series of trails that you can hike, as well as the Grange Insurance Audubon Center which offers a variety of programs and events. (check hours for the Center before heading out).
The highlight here is the waterfall at the end of a short walk on the boardwalk. The waterfall is very pretty after heavy rains, but it’s always worth a visit if you’re looking for a shorter walk with the family. The walk down to the waterfall is about .3 miles.
Battelle Darby has a Nature Center, and is also home to Bison. We love combining a hike with watching the Bison in the enclosed pastures. There are a lot of hiking options at this park, and both short and longer hikes available.
Blendon Woods also has a Nature Center, and has a fantastic playground that was just built in 2022. There are a number of trails, ranging from .3 miles to 2 miles.
We love Sharon Woods Metro Park, especially in the fall with the fall colors. There are a number of great hiking trails, most of which are easy or moderate and varying lengths so you can find what you are looking for. We really enjoy fishing at the lake, and there are a few playgrounds, picnic tables and shelters as well.
Gahanna Woods has 1 mile of hiking trails, so it’s a great spot for shorter hikes. It can get muddy after recent rains, so plan accordingly.
A little further out from Columbus:
Blackhand Gorge is home to a bike trail and 10 miles of trail. The Blackhand Trail is a paved trail and is a little longer at 4.3 miles, but we just usually head out and then turn around when we are ready to get back to our vehicle. Although this park is located near Heath, it’s worth the drive for some incredible scenary!
Glen Helen Nature Preserve is located in Yellow Springs and is a beautiful area to explore and hike. The parking lot at the primary trail head is $5 to park in so be sure to have cash handy. The proximity to Yellow Springs makes it a fun day trip as you can combine some hiking with lunch or shopping in Yellow Springs, or even a visit to Young’s Jersey Dairy.