The best hiking trails in Cincinnati can often be found in one of the city’s the many tranquil nature preserves. Get lost in the beauty of ancient tree groves to taking in sweeping views of the Little Miami River. While Cincinnati offers a variety of parks with great hiking, it is in the city’s nature preserves that it feels like an escape from the urban metropolis.
The nature preserves are often not crowded as there are not playgrounds present or an abundance of neatly paved trails. A few do offer amenities such as picnicking and restrooms, while others do not. We developed a list of seven of our favorite nature preserves in Cincinnati that offer great hiking trails.
Cincinnati Nature Preserves With Great Hiking Trails
California Woods Nature Preserve
California Nature Preserve is located off of Kellogg Ave in the eastern portion of Cincinnati. Lick Run Creek snakes its way through the middle of this 113-acre nature preserve. There is a one-lane road that will take guests into the preserve and out, so be mindful of other cars.
Once parked in one of the designed parking areas or parking lot, guests will enjoy exploring the variety of trails. A favorite is the scenic 2.5 miles California Woods Trail, which is a moderate level trail. The nature center is a great spot to explore with kids and offers nature programs.
Tips For Visiting California Woods
- While on the main trails, there are quite a few trails that will branch off, leading to nowhere. Try to stay on the main path.
- Keep in mind there are no pets allowed at this preserve.
- The trails tend to be muddy after rain.
- Check for trail closures before visiting, as specific paths do close during winter months and need maintenance.
- The one-lane road going into the preserve is tight. Take caution while passing oncoming traffic.
Address: 5400 Kellogg Ave. Cincinnati, OH 45230
Caldwell Nature Preserve
Located near Finneytown, OH Caldwell Preserve has been a favorite hiking spot for locals as it is the ideal nature retreat. A variety of wildlife is found throughout the park. Bird watchers don’t forget those binoculars as many species have made their home here on the preserve. Three hiking trails interconnect throughout the preserve allow hikers to shorten or lengthen their hikes. The trail that leads to the nature center isn’t marked well, and you can miss the turn easily.
There are over 3.5 miles of trails that include a wheel-chair accessible trail to allow everyone access to the great outdoors. The paved trail is located next to the Nature Center and leads to the Amphitheater and a scenic overlook of a ravine. Picnic tables are also available.
Tips For Visiting Caldwell Nature Preserve
- Trails are not well labels, which can be challenging to navigate.
- The path does have wooden steps and bridges throughout.
- Check for trail closures at Cincy Parks.
- Dogs are allowed on the Caldwell Nature Preserve Trail.
Address: 430 W North Bend Rd, Cincinnati, OH 45216
LMC Ruthven Nature Preserve And The South 80 Trails
The LMC Ruthven Nature Preserve and the scenic South 80 Trails are tucked away in the charming town of Mariemont. The South 80 acreage is over 75 acres that consist of 7 miles of trails, community garden plots, Little Miami River frontage, and a campsite.
Getting to this particular reserve and trails can be tricky as google maps will take you a business located near the preserve that does not have parking available.
Parking for the LMC Ruthven Nature Preserve and the South 80 Trails is located at the Mariemont Community Pool. Then a walk down a hill, under a one-way bridge, over a set of railroad tracks, and along the road that will take you to the trails and community gardens. It may seem like a lot, however, it is worth it.
Our favorite trail was along the South 80 Trail that branched off into the Ancient Trail. A famous archeological dig took place near here called the Madisonville Site from the 1800s to 1970s. During this dig, they uncovered remains of Fort Ancient Indians dating back from 1400 to 1600. Along the bluffs of the South 80 Trial, there is a serpent mound.
The Ruthven Nature Preserve is on the western side of the community gardens with trails leading into the reserve.
Tips For Visiting:
- Be mindful of the community gardens, and do not deposit your trash in the compost piles.
- Parking is at the Mariemont Community Pool.
- Bring sunscreen as the trails are not entirely in the shade.
- The majority of the path is flat and easy to navigate.
- There was a port-a-potty near the gardens during my recent visit.
Address To Mariemont Community Pool For Parking: 6000 Mariemont Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45227
Kelley Nature Preserve
The Kelley Nature Preserve is located in Clermont County in Loveland, OH. The preserve has over a mile of hiking trails along the Little Miami River, Canoe/Kayak access to the river, and picnic tables. Scenic views of the river are throughout the park, including benches that overlook the river near the canoe launch.
The hiking trails are ideal for little hikers; however, keep a close eye as there are always spots that they may need an extra hand to stay safe. There is a trail that leads to a beautiful open field that comes alive with summer wildflowers. It is not gorgeous. Rumor has it that during the winter months, it is easy to spot bald eagles as they hunt for fish in the Little Miami River.
Tips For Visiting Kelley Nature Preserve
- There is a parking lot with ample parking.
- Watch your step. We noticed a lot of small stumps and roots along the trails.
- The labels on the trail are not easy to spot, however, the trails are short; it is relatively easy to navigate.
Address: 97 Center Street (State Route 126), Loveland, OH 45140
Johnson Nature Preserve
A small nature preserve in the middle of Montogemy is a hidden gem in the city. After being hit by the 1999 tornado, the preserve is still recovering. The majority of mature trees were uprooted during the catastrophic event, including the native plant life and animal habitats. Today new trees have infiltrated the preserve with fresh foliage. Plantlife has returned, and animals can frequently be seen throughout the preserve.
There is a small .35 mile paver walkway that goes into the preserve. The .35 miles is perfect for little hikers, while those seeking a more adventurous hike can continue into the 65-acre, Harris M. Benedict Nature Preserve. The Harris M. Benedict Nature Preserve is owned by the University of Cincinnati, which carries out biological studies in the preserve.
Tips For Visiting The Johnson Nature Preserve
- There is a small parking lot that allows access to both preserves.
- A pergola and benches make this preserve a great spot to bird watch, read a book, and enjoy nature.
Address: 10840 Deerfield Road in Montgomery
Camp Dennison Nature Trail
The Camp Dennison Nature Trail is our favorite nature trail to bring children or for those looking for a relatively flat, quick walk through nature. This small preserve offers visitors a one-half mile crushed limestone base hiking trail that is full of surprises. During our recent trip, there were fairy doors, trolls, and other fun surprises hidden throughout the path to make it a delight for those who like a little whimsy during their hikes.
There is an easy geocache that was fun to find along this nature trail as well. Many of the preserves have geocaches hidden within them. Geocaching is an excellent activity for those who love scavenger hunts, nature, and mind games. Best of all, it is free! Download the geocache app to find the geocaches that are near you!
There is a side trail that leads to the nearby subdivision. Some steps led down into a ravine that looks as if it may go to a creek; it does not. It goes to the neighborhood.
Tips For Visiting The Camp Dennison Nature Trail
- There is a small parking lot for the nature trail.
- A port-o-potty is located in the parking lot of the trail.
- There is not a creek in along this nature preserve.
- The Camp Dennison Nature Trail is open to the public while nearby Grand Valley Preserve is not.
Address: 10199 Campbell St, Camp Dennison, OH 45111
Farbach-Werner Nature Preserve
The 22-acre nature preserve located roughly a mile south of the Northgate Shopping Center is an excellent spot for a casual walk in the woods. It is ideal for children, pets, and beginners. The preserve has a cute gift shop, a barn used for special exhibits and nature programs, and restrooms.
The Pin Oak Trail is a .06-mile accessible trail that includes a beautiful butterfly garden, ponds, and wildflowers’ gardens. The path is ideal for all ages and is popular among dog walkers. Keep in mind that dogs must be on a leash while on the trail.
Tips For Visiting Farbach-Werner Nature Preserve
- This park is part of the Great Parks of Hamilton County and will require a day pass or permit to visit, however, the parks do offer days when admission is free.
- The area near the park is busy; however, once you have entered the park, it is a lovely retreat.
- The gift shop is the perfect spot to find a gift for an outdoor enthusiast. They offer a great selection of unique items.
Address: 3455 Poole Rd, Colerain Township, OH 45251
Cincinnati Nature Preserves With Great Hiking Trails