A Look at Hiking Trails in and around Cincinnati

Robert S. Castellini
3 min readJul 27, 2022

The Cincinnati area boasts numerous hiking trails for outdoor enthusiasts of all ages and fitness levels. Bender Mountain Loop Trail is in Bender Mountain Nature Preserve. Open year-round, the 2.3 mile loop is popular with hikers and bird watchers, and it offers outstanding views of the Ohio River. Rated moderately challenging by All Trails, the loop allows dogs on leashes.

Gilmore MetroPark sits on 260 acres in southeast Hamilton, just north of Cincinnati. Designated by Audubon Ohio as an “important birding area,” the park’s hiking trails include the Wetlands Trail with a floating boardwalk for optimal wildlife viewing.

Located in the Winton Woods, the Kingfisher Trail meanders in a loop along a creek and up a moderate incline for 1.1 miles. Rated moderately difficult, the trail comprises well-packed dirt with some roots and steps to navigate. Many points along the trail allow for dipping feet in the water or enjoying a picnic along the creek’s banks.

Another hidden gem, the Caldwell Preserve offers a trail system spanning 3.5 miles. Winding through a heavily wooded forest, the trails interconnect and follow ridges formed by Mill Creek Watershed. Hikers can enjoy the shade of oak, walnut, and beech trees, as well as some moderate elevation gain.

Glenwood Gardens comprises 335 acres with numerous trails for all ages. Beginning with a one-mile loop suitable for children and strollers, the trail connects to the Wetland Loop nature trail through more densely wooded areas. After their hike, visitors can check out the Highfield Discovery Garden, a 12-acre attraction that features an enormous tree play structure and a model trail.

The Miami Whitewater Forest occupies 4,438 acres, making it the largest park in Hamilton County. Shaker Trace trail is the area’s longest paved trail, taking hikers through 7.8 miles of wetlands and prairies. For hikers with less time, the park’s 1.7-mile Badlands Trail or 1.4-mile Timberlake Trail offer ideal alternatives.

In addition to its scenic gardens, Ault Park in Cincinnati offers several shaded hiking trails with substantial climbs. The trails pass over hills and creeks, and even allow hikers to cross over an old railroad bridge.

The largest park in Cincinnati, Mt. Airy Forest features 1,450 acres with multiple hiking and mountain biking trails. The mountain bike trails required thousands of hours of volunteer work by 80 individuals who cleared foliage, installed new stone drainage crossings, and built stone retaining walls. Hikers and cyclists can also take advantage of covered picnic areas and lookout views.

Many locals consider the Sharon Woods Gorge Trail one of Cincinnati’s best. The 2.6-mile paved trail around the lake connects to the 0.7-mile Gorge Trail, which passes along a rushing stream within a wooded area. Particularly lovely when the fall leaves change color, the path comprises dirt, gravel, and mulch. Hikers can also explore the connecting fitness trail.

Another popular city park, French Park in Amberly sits on 275 acres and offers several trails that go in and out of forested areas. The outermost loop trail is three miles, but hikers can combine multiple trails to spend as long as they would like among the scenic woods of the park.

Finally, hikers can check out the trails on the grounds of the Cincinnati Nature Center, whose 1,000 acres include 65 acres of old growth forest and more than 16 miles of hiking trails.