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Welcome to Cincinnati Nature Center. Let the adventure begin. [Image: Leyla Shokoohe]

It's Kinda Ridiculous How Much Fun We Had At The Cincinnati Nature Center

Guys, this article is going to start immediately. No long introduction. No big song and dance. I was assigned to visit the Cincinnati Nature Center and write about it, and so I did. It's not important how I got here. What IS important is a) how awesome this place is, and b) that you get yourselves there. As fast as humanly possible.

Cincinnati Nature Center is the largest member-supported nature center in the country. Though the majority of this gorgeous slice of Mother Nature is situated in Milford, Ohio, there's a sizable chunk located in good ol' Goshen. Hosting more than 150,000 visitors per year, CNC is contains more than 1,500 acres of land, including 65 acres of old-growth forest.

What the heck is old-growth forest?

Good question. Seriously cool answer. Old-growth forest is a forest that has attained great age without being significantly disturbed. (Basically, it's like Fern Gully, before the oil drills invaded and that gross goblin-y thing took over.)

We're talkin' historical forest, guys. SUPER old. Super cool. Between the pristine forest, the center's 16 miles of hiking trails, the Krippendorf Lodge, and a sweet Visitor's Center, there's more than enough to get you headed in the direction of Milford/Goshen.

The forecast called for rain on the gray-but-warm Saturday I made my way to the Milford swatch of the Nature Center. I perused the many trails on a map and settled on the Edge Trail. It was labeled "easy" (good for newbies and seasoned hikers alike) and only .66 miles long -- perfect for an first dip into the CNC experience. There are a total of ten trails, each with varying levels of difficulty. I set off on the Edge Trail under a lovely, nature-made arch of tree branches.

A few runners dashed past me as I began my trek. (In total, I saw at least five runners, one very elderly lady hiker, two couples, and one family as I walked the trail.) And then, suddenly I was all alone.

I had walked far enough past the entryway that no ambient noise was present -- no rushing of cars on the highway, no sirens from ambulances, no loud voices, no electric hum, no anything. It was beautifully quiet and I could hear so many things. The hollow echo of two trees rubbing against each other twenty feet above me was spooky at first, until I realized what I was hearing. I felt so utterly peaceful. I saw cardinals, funky fungus patterns on tree trunks, a tree that had become completely entwined with another tree. I saw all kinds of awesome stuff.

Depending on the season you visit, you'll find even more coolness waiting. There's the large Powel Crosley Lake, smaller ponds spread throughout, Oak Allee, the Visitor Center (with a great nature library and a huge viewing window, complete with binoculars for a closer look at all the flora and fauna). And more.

There's so much to explore, in fact, that Cincinnati Nature Center is open year-round. That means I'll see ya out there. Soon.

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Want to find out more? Visit Cincinnati Nature Center's website or Facebook page. Or, better yet, head to Milford for an in-person adventure (4949 Tealtown Rd, 45150).