Winter Hiking in Ohio
I’ll be honest: I love hiking, but I actually prefer hiking in the winter. It’s hard to beat the liveliness of springtime and the dense greenery of summer and yes, the beautiful colors of fall… but I feel most at home hiking and roaming the woods and fields when the world is colder and covered with snow.
I just love the quiet that comes from a layer of snow muffling the sound. I love getting to see farther through the woods between the bare trees. And I especially love how it all looks when there’s a blue sky peaking through the background.
Our state is full of parks that just beg to be explored during the winter. The silence brought on by snowfall lets you hear different species of birds, or small animals darting around, or just the soft babble of a stream running under a thin layer of ice. On my last little hike, which I took with our Yellow Lab, I spotted a trio of chickadees darting along the tops of nearby trees, loudly chirping their names (chick-a-dee-dee-dee-dee) to each other. Their voices were clear as day, accompanied only by the crunch of snow underfoot and the slight creaking of trees.
Close to us we love climbing around Highbanks Metro Park north of Columbus, although spots like Inniswood Gardens and Scioto Audubon metroparks are great options, too. In fact, the area is cut by a surprising number of ravines. It’s easy to take a short walk and find yourself in a ravine that makes you feel miles away from the city.
Many friends have recently loved climbing around Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Oak Openings Preserve in Swanton, and Rising Park in Lancaster. In fact, Hocking Hills hosts an annual Winter Hike. This year is the 52nd year for the hike; it’s being held on Saturday, January 21 starting in the morning. The six-mile trek runs from Old Man’s Cave to Ash Cave, with a shuttle to bring you back to the start. They said in 2015 that over 5300 people hiked the trail.
I’m considering taking the family on more winter hikes this year. There doesn’t seem to be a shortage of options, from easy to intense trails, sunrise or moon hikes, snowshoe hiking, family hiking, and everything in between. I actually found this great calendar with a schedule of hikes in January and February. It’ll be a great way to use my new walking stick and keep to that New Year’s resolution of exercising more outdoors.