I recently splurged on a new pair of hiking boots at Rookwood Commons for a wellness retreat and, if I’m being honest, they haven’t gotten much use since.
I thought all was lost—I’d never get to use my new footwear until next season. But, thanks to the unpredictability of autumn in Cincinnati, I took to the trails to find the best spots for everyone in the Tri-state, from runners to walkers, from seasoned athletes to families, all within 30 minutes of Downtown.
Just because it’s the middle of November, doesn’t mean we have to hunker down and stay indoors. With our incredible parks, and reliable hiking boots, we can work toward our health and wellness goals in the great outdoors.
11450 Lebanon Road (45241)
25-minute drive north of Cincinnati
At the top-most point of the 275-loop sits Sharon Woods Park. This 730-acre park is centered around a beautiful lake. Even when it isn’t boating or fishing season, Sharon Woods welcomes all fitness levels with three unique trail routes.
For those with a specific goal in mind, take the 1-mile Fitness Trail. Along the wide trail, you’ll find exercise stations for everything from stretches to pull-ups.
The .7-mile Gorge Trail, on the other hand, is perfect for a Sunday stroll or cool-down walk, as it’s a designated State Nature Preserve. You’ll enjoy the sights of shale, limestone, and fossils along the way, so take the time to take it all in.
My favorite is the 2.6-mile Shared Use Trail around the lake. It was perfectly paved, wide enough to share the road (with those far faster than me), and had gorgeous views no matter what part of the path I was on.
1201 Park Drive (41011)
9-minute drive south of Cincinnati
This 700-acre park just south of the city has it all: a natural getaway with all the urban perks. For example, even when the weather is too cold, you can give your brain a workout at the onsite Behringer-Crawford Museum. On this particular day, I came for a little bit of everything.
Their paved trails are perfect for anyone looking for a smooth running trail or baby stroller route. The paths wind through the entire park, from Prisoners Lake to the Memorial Overlook, both of which are perfect places to get in some cross-training with a gorgeous (and motivating) view.
For a more classic trail run, the “backcountry trails” as they’re known at Devou Park, are a haven for hikers and bikers alike. Given the uncertainty of our fall, be sure to check in on conditions on their website. But the trails at Devou Park are some of the best-kept in the city, thanks to Cincinnati Off Road Alliance (CORA).
5963-6005 Given Road (45243)
22-minute drive northeast of Cincinnati
This hidden gem located in the Village of Indian Hill is a natural route for all skill levels. There are no steep hills or challenging routes here - just a serene forested path alongside Redbird Creek.
A designated Ohio Natural Landmark, this 54-acre tract is an incredible retreat for regular runners and casual walkers with an out-and-back hike that totals three miles with additional side trails.
Be ready to share these paths with families with children and plenty of pets. You’ll all be enjoying this east-side oasis with natural inhabitants including deer, foxes, and coyotes! If you do take kids on this family-friendly trail, consider entering through Stephan Field for a little pre-and-post-hike playtime on the park playground.
Mt. Airy Forrest
5083 Colerain Avenue (45223)
12-minute drive northwest of Cincinnati
This park may be less than 15 minutes from Downtown, but with 1500 total acres, exploring Mt. Airy feels like stepping into a forested sanctuary, hours away from any kind of civilization.
I love how everyone can enjoy Mt. Airy, thanks to Ohio’s only wheelchair-accessible public tree house, an enclosed dog park, and bridle trails for horseback riders.
For me, I had miles of trails to choose from, from a short .7-miler to 4.1 miles, some even reaching 859 feet above sea level. On every path I explored, I felt fully enveloped by the forest, reminiscent of all the “forest bathing” from my aforementioned retreat.
Keep in mind, many of the trails are closed or have irregular hours to sustain the park’s natural resources and wildlife within the parks in winter months. Check for trail closures before starting your journey.
The remaining, colorful leaves won’t hang on forever—get out there and enjoy a healthy, seasonal outing whenever the weather permits. See the gallery above to check out some views from the trails.