By far one of the most beautiful hiking locations in the Tri-State area is Clifty Falls State Park and Clifty Canyon Nature Preserve. It just also happens to be one of the most difficult, with a brief tunnel and incredible waterfalls.
The hikes in '60 Hikes Within 60 Miles' cover three states and 25 counties. I've divided them here into smaller sections of hikes that are located close together: Around I-125, the Little Miami River, the edge of Appalachia, Brookville Lake, Southern Indiana and Northern Kentucky.
Selmier State Forest includes a pleasant stroll along the West Vernon Fork of the Muscatatuck River, through pine stands and mixed hardwood forests. In 2008, portions of the forest were harvested to remove trees damaged or destroyed by a shearing windstorm and Hurricane Ike.
If you like fossils, you are going to love this hike. The 475-million-year-old Ordovician limestone, rich in fossils, is exposed in some locations. In those areas, one can easily see fossilized brachiopods, bryozoans, horn corals, and crinoids. Collecting fossils in the state park is not permitted. (Bummer.)
Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge offers adventures for everyone, including eight hiking trails. Bring your bird identification guides, as there are a multitude of wetland-loving species in the refuge on any given day.
A gem in the middle of suburbia, Gilmore Ponds Interpretive Preserve offers wetland-dependent creatures a safe haven and wildlife watchers opportunities to view songbirds, turtles, kingfishers, butterflies, and waterfowl.
Kincaid State Park is a wonderful family-friendly park encompassing 850 acres of Kentucky’s rolling terrain. Multiple playground areas, a swimming pool, paddleboat rental, a recreation center, campground, and trails offer plenty of recreational opportunities. The 183-acre lake has fishing opportunities for both the avid and novice anglers.
Expect the unexpected along the trail at Fort Ancient. An elaborate array of earthworks and a stone serpent grace the trail through the woods. Enjoy the many displays in the museum and visitor center. The children’s discovery area is full of opportunities for hands-on learning.
Sharon Woods Park offers a variety of activities, including playgrounds, a harbor, and a marina that rents paddleboats. The trail system is well maintained and has a fair amount of traffic. This park is also well known for an incredible holiday light show.
Located on Dayton’s lower east side, Sugarcreek MetroPark is part of the Five Rivers MetroParks system. With 618 acres, complete with 550-year-old oak trees, creek crossings, a fossil-collecting area, tallgrass prairie, woodlands, and an Osage orange–tree tunnel, you’ll find several places to lose yourself.
Caldwell Park is a great place to take your family hiking. Several beautiful valley overlooks are peppered throughout the preserve. The Ray Abercrombie and Ravine Creek trails are very scenic, and the Paw Paw Ridge Trail provides some solitude. Be sure to venture behind the nature center to the platform overlooking the valley.
Nestled into Cincinnati’s lower east side, California Woods Nature Preserve offers a variety of trails, from easy to moderate, through valleys, hillsides, meadows, and forests. Your children will love exploring the hands-on displays at the nature center.