Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Fall Hiking and Backpacking in the Cincinnati Area

Now that fall has arrived, hiking and backpacking are back on the agenda again! With the cool weather and beautiful foliage of the trees, fall is the perfect time to get out into the woods before the cold settles in for good. Thinking about planning a hike or an overnight trip? Here are some great ideas to help get you started.
  • Mt. Airy Forest (OH) - This municipal forest, one of the largest in the country, has several trails worth trekking. Perfect for a free afternoon or weekend outing.
  • Hueston Woods State Park (OH) - Situated around a reservoir, this park has several trails fitting for fall day hikes. The colors of fall are most attractive next to the scenic lake.
  • East Fork State Park (OH) - Only a 30 minute drive from Cincinnati, this park is centered around a reservoir. Although the forest is young, a large network of hiking and backpacking trails exist. If backpacking for one night, there are several camps available with 3-walled shelters.
  • Caesar's Creek State Park (OH) - Travel north on I-71 to Caesar's Creek, a state park situated around a reservoir less than an hour's drive away. The park is large and the hiking opportunities are numerous. Backpacking options also exist, but camping is limited. Beautiful scenery and great terrain.
  • Twin Valley Metro Park (OH) -Located near Dayton, this metropark recently opened a backpack trail perfect for those last minute getaways.
  • Shawnee State Forest (OH) - If you want challenge, this is the place to be. Although views and scenic areas are limited, the backpack trail is the best in the state and can be traversed in one large loop or two small loops. Best for multiple night trips. (special notice)
  • Knobstone Trail (IN) - This trail is best for overnight backpacking trips, but must be done as either an out and back or with two cars. The knobstone rivals Shawnee's terrain.
  • Red River Gorge (KY) - A favorite for Cincinnati hikers and backpackers for years, Red River Gorge, located in the Daniel Boone National Forest, is the perfect place to catch fall foliage. If you're into rock climbing, this is the spot to experience some of the best in the country. Since RRG can be crowded on the weekends, plan an overnight trip during the week for optimal solitude.
  • Cave Run Lake (KY) - Slightly north of RRG, Cave Run Lake offers several hiking trails that can easily be made into overnight treks. Catch the Sheltowee Trace Trail nearby, visit the site of an old fire tower and camp by a lake with open skies.
  • Mammoth Cave National Park (KY) - As a three hour drive, it's definitely not a day jaunt but perfect for overnight and multiple day treks. The terrain is varied, but never too strenuous. A variety of trails intertwine allowing you to choose your own route. Some trails are frequented by horses, so watch your step! Camping opprotunies abound, many in very scenic locations. After you've had your share of the forest, explore one of the many underground cave systems the park was made for.
  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park (TN) - For high wilderness adventure, it doesn't get any better than at GSMNP. As the second closest national park to Cincinnati (a 5 hour drive), it makes the perfect weekend getaway for the hard-care backpacker or hiker. However, remember to bring a bear bag and rope!
*Photos by Rachel Campbell; Left: Hueston Woods State Park/Right: Mammoth Cave National Park

1 comment:

  1. Very helpful, im from the dayton area so these are great for me to. I love the twin valley trail.


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