Ohio is home to some of the most beautiful natural scenery in the Midwest. Between vast forests and serene rivers and lakes, rolling hills and striking rock formations, Highland County in particular is a treasure trove of geographic features. As the heat of the summer slowly begins to fade and make way for the hushed tones of autumn, hiking season reaches its peak, and explorers have many local options to choose from.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many public facilities have been shut down. The outdoors, however, are a safe haven for families to escape the stress of working during a pandemic. Now is a better time than ever to get out and explore nature. Some of the best Highland County hikes are listed below, all family-friendly and perfect for a relaxing getaway.
From the Highlands Nature Sanctuary, maintained by the Arc of Appalachia, there are many trails to explore. The easy to moderate trails are great for adventure-seekers up for a challenge.
At the sanctuary there’s the 2.2-mile-long Cedar Run Trail and Barrett’s Rim, a 2.1-mile creek view hike. The 2-mile Kamelands Trail even boasts a natural arch. The Ridgeview Farm Restoration Trail is a 2-mile long path through woods and rolling green hills, and a short spur leads to a thriving forest marsh, where hikers can spot huge “skunk cabbages,” a rotten-smelling plant with leaves that can grow to be more than two feet in diameter.
Another well-hidden hiking gem is the Miller Nature Sanctuary. This well-maintained park is one of the most kid-friendly in Highland County. The trails there are short, all of them less than two miles long, but each is filled with educational panels on the history, wildlife, and vegetation of the area.
The Fort Hill trail system is home to one of the oldest forests in Ohio, and a trip through the impressive woodlands is enough to leave any visitor in awe. Native American culture has been preserved in mysterious 2,000-year-old earthworks. Trails there are remote and primitive, the perfect challenge for experienced hikers.
Rocky Fork and Paint Creek state parks also have several trails for hiking, horse riding and bicycle riding.
Highland County’s hiking trails have something for everyone, from children to experienced explorers. This fall, get out and explore nature in Highland County. It’s free, it’s safe, and it’s a much-needed distraction from the chaotic world we live in.
Some of the information for this story came from https://arcofappalachia.org/.
Isabella Warner is a stringer for The Times-Gazette.