Spring is here! And what better way to enjoy the warmer weather and blue skies than a trip to one of the 75+ state parks throughout the state of Ohio. After all, wherever you are in Ohio, you’re just a short drive from an Ohio State Park, where you can participate in all the programs offered by the parks for FREE!
Ohio State Parks offer a variety of ways to connect with family and friends while discovering the outdoors. Open every day and always free, Ohio’s 75+ state parks provide a refuge from daily life with something new to do with every visit. Choose from 1,000 miles of trails to explore, beaches and boating facilities for fun on the water, cozy campgrounds, cabins and lodges for comfortable stays, and special events and nature programs to make your stay memorable.
Here are just a few of our favorite activities to help you celebrate spring at your Ohio State Parks:
Take a Hike
Ohio’s wide-open spaces, where grasslands meet woodlands, bursting with color in spring. Take a hike and look for brightly-colored wildflowers or try your hand at birdwatching. Among the most popular parks for hiking in Ohio according to AllTrails include:
- Hocking Hills State Park – Located in southeastern Ohio, Hocking Hills State Park has received national and international acclaim as a top park to visit. Stunning in every season, the park features towering cliffs, waterfalls, and deep, hemlock-shaded gorges for hikers and nature lovers to enjoy. Be sure to look for the wildflowers adorning the forest floor this spring!
- Caesar Creek State Park – There are multiple trails at Caesar Creek that are specifically designated for hiking, rated moderate to difficult. They include scenic waterfalls, a swinging bridge, and views of the lake.
- Mohican State Park – Mohican State Park’s wild landscape offers truly stunning views from both land and water. Clear Fork Gorge, Lyon’s Falls, and the Mohican State Scenic River are just a few of the must-sees for adventurers. Named “Trail of the Month” by Runners World Magazine, Mohican State Park is the home to one of the oldest ultra marathons in the U.S., The Mohican Trail 100, and also hosted the first-ever US Track and Field Ultra Marathon National Championship in 2005.
Bonus: In addition to AllTrails, you can download the Ohio State Parks app, DETOUR. The DETOUR app prepares you for every twist and turn of the trail with useful, authoritative information that gets you there and back again!
Fishing isn’t just a great way to spend time with friends and family outdoors, it’s also an inexpensive and ethical way to eat fresh, wild-caught fish. Fishing is allowed in all Ohio State Park lakes, with a valid Ohio fishing license required for anyone age 16 years or older. Non-residents may opt for a tourist license rather than buying a license for the full year.
Ohio offers many fantastic locations for the public to fish, including 124,000 acres of inland water, 7,000 miles of streams, 2.25 million acres of Lake Erie water, and 481 miles of the Ohio River. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) provides fishing forecasts and maps for every lake in the state that are updated regularly. Additional resources available include lake maps, fishing tips by species, and the online interactive fishing map that allows you to select features to customize your own fishing maps for Ohio’s inland lakes.
Camping or ‘Glamping’
Campgrounds like Alum Creek, East Harbor, Indian Lake, Paint Creek, and West Branch offer a range of outdoor recreational options such as marinas, boat ramps, nature centers, archery ranges, and disc golf courses, within a short drive of the campground. Most Ohio State Park campgrounds are open year-round for four seasons of fun, and camping options include family camping, equestrian camping, and group camping.
Camping not your thing? Then Ohio’s state park resort lodges are your go-to destination for an overnight getaway with family or friends. They’re also great for group events such as conferences, weddings, reunions, and weekend retreats.
There are nine properties in unique Ohio state park locations, paired with the natural beauty of surrounding mountains, lakes, and wildlife. Each features well-appointed lodge rooms, dining options, indoor and outdoor pools– all just a short drive away from a variety of park activities such as hiking, biking, boating, golfing, and more.
Hit the Storybook Trails
Ohio’s Storybook Trails bring books to life for children and families. Storybook Trails are lined with pages from a children’s book to blend the fun of outdoor exploration with reading. The trails offer a whimsical story with a focus on nature, a free little library, and a free adventure for the whole family.
You’ll see posted signs that tell the story and present challenges that will keep your little ones fully engaged during the hike. Each trail is roughly half a mile long and there are 5 Storybook Trails in Ohio at Dillon, Burr Oak, Findley, Great Seal, John Bryan, Mary Jane Thurston, Maumee Bay, Shawnee, Sycamore, Wingfoot Lake, and Alum Creek State Parks.
Ohio is one of only seven in the nation where park admission remains free. Because of this, everyone can enjoy the benefits of our parks—whether it be by wandering trails, attending community events, spending time with friends, or simply finding moments of quiet respite in the outdoors.With your support, the Ohio State Parks Foundation can continue to care for and enrich the parks we love. We are excited to celebrate Ohio’s 75+ parks and encourage our community to help us maintain our beautiful parks to enjoy year-round by donating today.