20 Best Hiking Trails in Columbus, Ohio

Explore the top 20 hiking trails in Columbus, Ohio, perfect for families and pets. From scenic city parks to challenging gorges, find your next outdoor adventure.

Tobi Miles
July 16, 2024
Explore the top 20 hiking trails in Columbus, Ohio, perfect for families and pets. From scenic city parks to challenging gorges, find your next outdoor adventure.

Are you looking for a fun travel destination with tons of outdoor activities? Believe it or not, Columbus, Ohio, is a great city for outdoor enthusiasts. I know what you’re thinking, “Ohio? Outdoors?” Yes, Columbus, Ohio, offers outdoor experiences for the whole family.

Picturesque scenery makes hiking trails in Columbus a nature lover's dream. The hiking trails in and around Columbus attract hikers of all skill levels. Columbus has several trail networks that weave through the city parks, river corridors, gorges, and downtown buildings. Explore Columbus and the many hiking trails that connect to more extensive trail systems in Ohio.

Columbus is a great city to hike, with more trails than you might think. From the scenic trails in the city's parks to the more challenging but rewarding hikes in the surrounding gorges, there's something for everyone to enjoy. Here are 20 of the best hiking trails in Columbus.

1. Alum Creek Trails

Alum Creek Trails are a network of hiking trails along Alum Creek and the river corridors in Columbus, Ohio. The hiking trails are accessible from different parks in and around the city, including Three Creeks Metro Park, Westerville, and Wolfe Park.

Alum Creek is a popular trail for hikers and joggers because of its beautiful scenery and easy access. It also offers hiking through busy suburban areas. If you're looking for a fun hike in Columbus, consider checking out one of the Alum Creek Trails.

The trails wind through dense forests along Alum Creek. The path provides a wonderful opportunity to explore the many different types of trees found in Central Ohio.

Alum Creek Trails are pet-friendly and easy to hike with kids. If you are looking for a long, scenic hike, the Alum Creek Trail is an excellent option.

Location: Alum Creek State Park

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: varies 1 mile to 17 miles

2. Big Walnut Creek Trail

Photo Credit: Experience Columbus

Big Walnut Creek Trail offers a great hiking experience in Columbus. Start at Hoover Reservoir Park and enjoy a mile-and-a-half easy hike. Most of the trail is accessible to wheelchair and mobility equipment users, except for steep sections marked with waypoints.

Big Walnut Creek is famous for birding, fishing, picnicking, and hiking. You might even spot an American bald eagle in its natural habitat. Keep in mind that dogs need to be on a leash when hiking the pet-friendly trail.

Location: Hoover Reservoir Park

Difficulty: EasyDistance: 1.6 miles

Related Read: 60 BEST Things to Do in Columbus, OH

3. Big Run Park Loop

Photo Credit: Trail Finder

Big Run Park is one of the largest parks in Columbus and is home to one of the best hiking trails in the city. Big Run Park Loop hiking trail is over two and a half miles long and features several scenic overlooks. This trail is in the middle of southwest Columbus.

It's an easy trail to walk, but it offers some short strenuous areas. This hiking trail is great for bird watching or enjoying nature, with open spaces and dense trees.

Be careful when it’s raining or snowing. The trail can get muddy and messy at times. Pets are welcome, but dogs must be on a leash when hiking Big Run Park Loop.

Location: Big Run Park

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 2.7 miles

4. Gahanna Woods Trail

Only 11 miles from downtown Columbus, the Gahanna Woods Trail is a great hiking trail that starts in Gahanna and ends in Worthington.

Located in a nature preserve, hikers experience native Ohio with mature oak-hickory and beech-maple trees. Witness the wildflowers in the woods if you hike in springtime.

This sprawling nature preserve has miles of hiking trails that take you through dense forests, meadows, and breathtaking views of the surrounding skyline.

Several trails are perfect for different skill levels, making it easy to find a hike that suits your needs.

It is a moderate to difficult hike that is just over 2 miles long and takes just about 42 minutes to hike.

The trail is well-maintained and offers a variety of scenery. Hikers can enjoy various activities while on the trail, including fishing, biking, and horseback riding.

The Gahanna Woods Trail is a great place to get some exercise and take in beautiful scenery. Sorry, dog lovers, this trail is off-limits to pets. Dogs are not allowed.

Location: Gahanna Woods State Nature Preserve

Distance: 2.3 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

5. Brookside Trail

Credit: vtpanther / Flickr

The Brookside Trail is an out-and-back hiking trail that runs through the scenic Brookside Park in Columbus, Ohio.

The Brookside Trail, located in Blendon Woods Metro Park, is a 0.8-mile trail that starts with woods. It crosses Ripple Rock Creek and connects to the Hickory Ridge Trail and Ripple Rock Trail.

The trail is composed of a mixture of paved and unpaved surfaces. It is flat terrain and moderately easy to hike. It features a variety of scenery, including a creek and wood areas.

The Brookside Trail is one of the best trails in Columbus for nature lovers and families and features a playground and nature center for the kids. Unfortunately, dogs are not allowed on this trail.

Location: Blendon Woods Park

Distance: 1.7 miles

Difficulty: Easy

6. Nature Center Trail Lake

An easy out-and-back trail, Nature Center Trail Lake offers a short stroll for nature lovers who want a quick hike.

This trail starts at the Nature Center and goes 0.8 miles to Thoreau Pond. Other trails nearby provide beautiful views of the lake and the surrounding area.

The Nature Center Trail Lake is a great place to hike for people of all ages. It is easy to follow and has various trails nearby that will appeal to everyone.

The trail is short enough to bring small children without worrying about them getting tired. The Nature Center Trail Lake is a great place to bring your dog!

Location: Blendon Woods Park

Distance: 0.8 mile

Difficulty: Easy

7. Antrim Park Lake Trail

Antrim Park Lake Trail is a great hiking trail in Columbus, Ohio. This trail is perfect for all levels of hikers and is well-maintained by the city. Antrim Lake supports sport fishing for species like big-mouth bass, bluegill, and channel catfish. Take a hike after fishing in the lake.

The trail begins at Antrim Park Lake and winds through the park. The hike is relatively short, but it offers lovely lake views. Antrim Park Lake Trail is very popular, so you will likely see a lot of hikers on the trail, but it's easy to slip into solitude in some quiet areas.

Location: Antrim Park

Distance: 1.3 mile

Difficulty: Easy

8. Chestnut Ridge Metro Park Trails

Credit: Dan Keck / Flickr

Chestnut Ridge Metro Park provides several trails that will take you on a journey through the forest. One of the most popular trails at Chestnut Ridge is the overlook trail.

This trail leads you to a lookout point that offers spectacular views of the city and the surrounding landscape. The hike is strenuous but well worth the views.

If you're looking for an easy hike that still provides excellent scenery, check out the different trail options at Chestnut Ridge Metro Park.

Chestnut Ridge Metro Park features a 10-mile-long dirt trail exclusively for mountain bikers. Chestnut Ridge Metro Park is a great place to spend a lazy day in nature or to challenge yourself with some new terrain.

Location: Chestnut Ridge Metro Park

Distance: 0.4 miles, 1 mile, 10 miles

Difficulty: Varies - Easy to Moderate

9. Highbanks Metro Park Trails

Experience hiking in Appalachia at Highbanks Metro Park trails. A great place to hike if you're looking for a challenging path with amazing scenic views. Highbanks gets its name from the deep ravines and high bluffs overlooking the Olentangy River.

It's no wonder the Overlook trail is so popular. As a habitat for nesting bald eagles, hikers often get lucky and spot one. The park is also home to other wildlife and native tree species.

Highbanks Metro Park Trails consist of 7 hiking trails ranging from easy to moderate. The trails are well-maintained and easy to follow.

You should have no trouble enjoying yourself, even if you're not an experienced hiker or mountain biker. They are great trails for people who want to experience some of Columbus's best scenery without hiking for too long.

Location: Highbanks Metro Park Trails

Distance: 1.2 miles to 6 miles

Difficulty: Varies – Easy to Moderate

10. Camp Chase Trail

Camp Chase Trail is located just outside the city and offers a scenic hike through woodland and fields. The trail runs along train tracks that are still in use.

Over 15 miles long, the trail makes up a section of the more significant Ohio to Erie Trail. Take picturesque views of farms, barns, and Ohio rural landscape along the Camp Chase Trail.

It provides a scenic route through rural Madison County, starting west of Lilly Chapel at Wilson Road. You can enter the Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park by crossing the Darby Creek Bridge and exploring the park on the Darby Creek Trail.

The trail is open year-round and offers several different smaller trails to explore. Come watch the leaves turn colors in the Fall.

Location: Camp Chase

Distance: varies – up to 15 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Related Read: 20 Best State Parks in Ohio

11. Hayden Run Falls Trail

Hayden Run Falls is a beautiful waterfall located near Columbus, Ohio. The falls are a popular hiking destination, and several trails take hikers to the falls.

This trail takes hikers on a short hike through the forest until they reach the falls—a short path that gives you a chance to explore without worrying about getting lost in the woods.

The hike is only 0.3 miles long, and it is moderately difficult. However, the reward, in the end, is worth it! Waterfalls!

The ecosystem surrounding the waterfalls supports a wide variety of endangered plants, so fair warning – don't climb the waterfalls! Instead, protect the rare foliage that grows there. Whether you hike the Hayden Run Trail, you will have a wonderful experience.

Location: Griggs Nature Preserve

Distance: 0.3 mile

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

12. Blendon Woods Loop

If you're looking for a hiking trail where you might run into a flock of wild turkey, you should check out the Blendon Woods Loop. This loop trail is just a short drive from Columbus, Ohio.

The Blendon Woods Metro Park is home to various bird species, including turkey, waterfowl, and songbirds. The Walden Waterfowl Refuge is located on Thoreau Lake in Blendon Woods Metro Park. This is a place for birders to visit.

The trail starts with a gentle climb up the ridge line. From there, you can choose to go down into the valley or continue up the ridge.

The trail winds through the forest and has several scenic overlooks. Blendon Woods Trails offers different terrains and varied difficulties. Dogs are not allowed on this trail, so you must leave the pups home.

Location: Blendon Woods Metro Park

Distance: 2 miles

Difficulty: Easy

13. Olentangy Trail

Olentangy National Scenic Riverways offers hiking trails that are perfect for all travelers. For example, the Olentangy Trail takes hikers from Worthington to downtown Columbus.

This trail offers hikers over 17 miles of hiking, biking, or trail running. Take in views of the Olentangy River while you get exercise. The Olentangy Trail passes through various landscapes, including forests, rolling hills, and rocky outcroppings.

The trail is well-maintained and offers spectacular river views along the way. The trail is strenuous, but it is also beautiful and worth the effort. The views from the top are breathtaking as you meander near the Ohio State University Campus.

Hikers can access the trail at Worthington Hills Park, Olentangy River Parklands, Antrim Park, Whetstone Park, Northmoor Park, Clinton-Como Park, Tuttle Park (OSU Campus) & Confluence Parkland.

Location: Multiple Access Points

Distance: 17 milesDifficulty: Easy to Moderate

Related Read: 29 Top Treehouse Rentals in Ohio

14. Sugarbush Trail

Credit: Michel Gauthier / Flickr

The Sugarbush Trail is a hiking trail part of the larger Blendon Woods Trails. It is an easy hike that takes about 38 minutes to complete.

The Sugarbush Trail is an excellent hike for those who want to get out and enjoy the real Ohio outdoors. It is also a popular route for students who wish to exercise during their breaks.

The trail is well-maintained and easy to follow, making it a perfect choice for first-time and experienced hikers.

Pull out the snow gear and head to Ohio for winter break! Sugarbush Trail is also very popular for cross-country skiing in winter. Dogs are not allowed on the Sugarbush Trail.

Location: Blendon Woods Metro Park

Distance: 1.2 miles

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

15. Goldenrod Pet Trail

Goldenrod Pet Trail is the trail for you and your furry pal if you're looking for a hiking trail made for your pup. This trail is considered moderate, but it's not too long to hike. Canines of all kinds are always welcome as long as they are kept on a leash and well-behaved.

The Goldenrod Pet Trail starts at the Olentangy River Valley Park. It winds its way through the woods and meadows before reaching the river.

If you're looking for a quiet hike that will take you to some beautiful scenery, the Goldenrod Pet Trail is worth checking out. Along the way, you'll pass all the different species of Ohio trees, making for an idyllic hiking experience.

This trail does have ticks, so you should dress appropriately and beware. Check yourself and your furry companion before accidentally carrying any unwanted pests home.

This trail can also become very muddy and wet, so prepare with appropriate foot-ware to avoid getting your paws muddy.

Location: Blendon Woods Metro Park

Distance: 1.3 miles

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

16. Schiller Park Trails

One of the best hiking trails in Columbus is Schiller Park Trails. This trail system is made up of two family-friendly trails and is fun for kids. The Schiller Park Trails are a popular destination for hikers, runners, and cyclists.

The park contains several trails. They offer a variety of paths that are suitable for all levels of fitness. In addition, the trails are well-maintained and offer a variety of scenery, including lakes, streams, and forests.

Schiller Park Trails are also great for people who want to get out of the city without leaving Columbus. The trails provide a peaceful environment perfect for morning or afternoon hikes.

Location: Schiller Woods

Distance: 1.5 miles to 3 miles

Difficulty: Easy

17. Scioto Greenway Trails

Suppose you're looking for a great hiking trail in Columbus. In that case, you should try out the Scioto Greenway trails, part of the Ohio Greenway trail network.

Multiple trails are perfect for all levels of hikers, and they offer a lot of different routes and connections to other trails. The trail is wheelchair accessible in some areas and perfect for families with young children.

The path takes you through the city, meandering parallel to the city street and down to the banks of the Scioto River. Bring plenty of water and snacks. Hiking can be thirsty work with a trail this long!

The longest trail is about 12 miles long, but it's worth it. You'll get to see some beautiful views of Columbus along the way. Take in views of the cityscape while hiking. A trail that is truly like nothing you have ever hiked before.

Scioto winds its way up through the trees and offers some great views of downtown Columbus. It's a bit more challenging than the other trails, but it's also sure to be rewarding.

Location: Berliner Sports Park

Distance: 12 miles

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

18. Sycamore Loop

Credit: J Engler / AllTrails

If you're looking for an amazing hiking trail in Columbus, look no further than the Sycamore Loop. This trail is perfect for all levels of hikers.

The Sycamore Loop starts at the North Columbus Recreation Center and follows a path that winds through the forest. The trail is paved but gets a bit rocky in places.

There are several benches along the way, so you can rest if necessary. The trail length is just under a mile, and an easy hike in either direction.

If you're looking for a trail to jog or hike that is short but scenic, the Sycamore Loop is your best option. Dogs are always welcome on this trail.

Location: Hueston Woods State Park

Distance: 0.9 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Related Read: 17 Best Romantic Getaways in Northeast Ohio

19. Goodale Park Trails

If you're looking for great trails with rich history, you should check out Goodale Park. A Victorian Village surrounds this oldest park in Columbus.

This park has several great trails that criss-cross all parts. In addition, ponds and play areas make this a fun place for the family. The Goodale Park Trails are the most popular in Columbus. They wind through the woods and past several ponds.

The trails are well-marked, so it's easy to find your way. They're also relatively short, so that you can walk them in a few hours. Whichever trail you choose, they are a great way to spend a morning or afternoon outdoors.

Goodale Park has something for you whether you're looking for a quick hike or an all-day adventure.

Location: Goodale Park

Distance: varies

Difficulty: Easy

20. Ohio State University-Main Campus Loop

Who would have thought of great hiking on a university campus? The Ohio State University-Main Campus Loop is a great hiking trail found on the OSU campus in Columbus, Ohio.

The trail is a loop that circles the main campus, weaving through various building complexes. Learn about the campus while enjoying a pleasant walk along the trail.

The trail is relatively easy to hike and is perfect for those who want to get a little bit of exercise while they are in Columbus. The Ohio State University-Main Campus Loop is also a great place to take a break from the city noise.

The trails are well-maintained and provide a peaceful environment for hikers or bikers to relax and enjoy the nature around them.

Suppose you are looking for a hiking trail in Columbus that provides incredible scenery. In that case, the Ohio State University-Main Campus Loop should be on your list.

Location: Ohio State University-Main Campus

Distance: 13 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Tobi Miles
Article updated:
July 16, 2024 10:33 AM

Tobi Miles is a University of Florida graduate turned globe-trotting culinary explorer and digital nomad expert. As the founder of "Bytes & Bites," he combines his passion for international cuisine with practical advice on remote work, inspiring others to experience the world through food and cultural immersion. With 32 countries under his belt and a knack for uncovering hidden culinary gems, Tobi is redefining the intersection of work, travel, and gastronomy for a new generation of adventurers.

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