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Unlock Ohio’s Secrets: Top 15 Dog-Friendly Hiking Spots

Ready to swap sidewalks for soil and skyscrapers for sky-high trees? Ohio's trails call for you and your four-legged friend—discover paths less traveled in the Buckeye State's great outdoors.

Tobi Miles
May 23, 2022

Have you been planning a trip to Ohio and wanted to get a hike in to keep up with your exercise routine? Ohio has some of the best trails and beautiful scenery that go along with it. If you love the outdoors, Ohio offers a variety of trails that are great for all ages and families. Many of these trails offer more than just hiking, but anywhere from cliff-diving to horseback riding.

No matter the season, the great state of Ohio has some of the most breathtaking water views from these trails. While there aren’t many mountains, you’ll still be able to experience gorgeous snowy winters, blossoming spring flowers, and summer swim areas. Here’s our list of the top fifteen trails in Ohio.

**Keep in mind: You’ll want to call ahead to check if there is a parking fee and if pets are allowed. In addition, many of these trails can become muddy so make sure you bring a pair of hiking boots just in case!

15 Best Hiking Trails In Ohio

1. Cantwell Cliffs Loop

Credit: Trip Advisor

The Cantwell Cliffs loop is a trail that is one of the difficult trails to complete even though it is a short distance. It consists of tough climbing, fallen trees, bridges, and even old steps to conquer. Cantwell Cliffs are located in Eastern Ohio and are one of the top parks to visit. On your hike, you’ll see cliffs, waterfalls, and endless nature to enjoy.

The Cantwell Cliff trails are open thirty minutes before sunrise and thirty minutes after sunset. If you’re expecting a crowd, don’t fret, many of these trails are one-way hiking trails that make hiking go a lot smoother for visitors. This provides extra safety for visitors while also allowing you to gaze at the breathtaking views.

Based on reviews, visitors love that these trails have added shelter with fire access if needed.

Difficulty: ChallengingDistance: 2 MilesTotal Elevation Gain: 269 Feet

2. Chapin Forest

Credit: DestiMap

The Chapin trail is a great family-friendly trail that even the kids can participate in. Throughout your hike, you will see mature beech and one of the best scenic views in the county. These trails are perfect for hiking, biking, birding, camping, horseback riding, and fishing. If you plan on hiking in the winter, keep an eye out for skiers, and do not walk in ski tracks.

Based on reviews, visitors love that these trails are well-maintained and offer restroom facilities. These are the perfect trails if you want to avoid a crowded area.

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 5.7 Miles

Total Elevation Gain: 482 Feet

Related Read: Top 10 BEST Indoor Water Parks in Ohio

3. Brandywine Gorge

Credit: National Park Service

If you’re planning a trip to Brandywine Gorge for a hike, you’ve most likely already heard about the falls. The trails have water bars, ponds, and streams so make sure you bring a good pair of shoes. Streams have slippery rocks so if you plan to cross them use extra precautions. On your hike, you’ll get a glimpse of Brandywine’s gorgeous nature such as maple trees and white oak.

The Brandywine waterfall is sixty feet tall and is this trail’s top attraction. This makes the trail a short and sweet hike, with an excellent payoff at the end to cool off. Even with its moderate challenge, this hike is kid-friendly. Dogs are also allowed as long as they are leashed.

Based on reviews, visitors love hiking this trail during the summer months so they can cool off at the waterfall towards the end.

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 1.4 Miles

Total Elevation Gain:  164 Feet

4. Christmas Rocks

Credit: Visit Fairfield County

The Christmas Rocks trail is a beautiful trail located through Hocking Hills. Once you arrive, you’ll notice that the trail and parking lots are marked to make it easier for locating. While looking at the map, you’ll notice there is an orange loop and a blue loop. On your hike, you’ll get to see wildflowers and other old historical buildings.

Once you get along to Jacob’s Ladder, you’ll come across one of the most extravagant views. Since this trail involves an upward climb and steep locations, it’s not recommended that you bring children along on this hike. If you’re planning your hike during the fall months, you’ll get an amazing view of the palette of colors among the trees.

Based on reviews, visitors love the scenery this trail has to offer and its amount of shaded areas. The trail is well-marked and easy to follow.

Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult

Distance: 4.5 Miles

Total Elevation Gain: 672 Feet

Related Read: 29 Top Treehouse Rentals in Ohio

5. Old Man’s Cave to Cedar Falls

Credit: Burtonwood Lodging

One of the most popular trails in the Hocking Hills area is Old Man’s Cave. The trail is over six miles long and can get pretty crowded on weekends. There is a large parking lot for parking and a visitor center if you need any additional information before your hike. Even though this trail has a waterfall and creek, no swimming is allowed so don’t plan on cooling off, especially on a hot day.

If you plan on bringing pets, they are permitted as long as they are on a leash. Because of its challenging trail, it’s advised that if you have certain health issues you may want to opt for an easier trail. There are uneven steps and steep inclines and is not recommended for small children.

Based on reviews, visitors love the challenging trails of this hike, but not during the winter months. Due to its difficulty, the trail may become icy.

Difficulty: Challenging

Distance: 6.79 Miles

Total Elevation Gain: 1,243 Feet

6. Conkles Hollow Rim Trail

Credit: Cherry Ridge Retreat

The Conkles Hollow Rim trail is surrounded by vertical cliffs that hover over two hundred feet above the gorge. As you continue along the trail, it will continue to narrow and eventually get to three hundred feet from cliff to cliff. Don’t count on bringing pets along on this trail. Dogs are not permitted and it’s very dangerous even if you tried to. If you’re looking for a trail that pushes the limits, you’ve found the right one.

This trail consists of beautiful bridges you’ll cross, along with rushing waters that flow into the gorge. If you plan on hiking during the summer months, make sure you arrive earlier in the day as the small parking lot can become crowded. If you require a rest, you’ll find restrooms and picnic areas near the parking lot.

Based on reviews, visitors love the challenge of this hike and its cliffs. The majority of the trails are paved which makes for easy walking as long as you stay on the easy route.

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 2.1 Miles

Total Elevation Gain: 72 Feet

7. Fort Hill

Credit: Cleveland Metroparks

On your hike, you’ll notice that the Fort Hill stairs are one of the main attractions of this trail. You’ll also find another historical point that is over two thousand years old. Your hike will include beautiful landscapes so make sure you bring a camera. The Fort Hill trail goes up four hundred feet to the hilltop. Here you will notice several pawpaw trees growing underneath the canopy.

This trail takes one hour and forty-three minutes to complete. It’s open all year long and is dog-friendly as long as they are on a leash. Based on reviews, visitors have said this trail can get a bit muddy, so you’ll want to make sure you don’t go after recent rain. They recommend wearing a good set of boots on your hike.

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 2.3 Miles

Total Elevation Gain: 446 Feet

8. Pine Ridge Trail

Credit: Wikipedia

Even with its moderate challenge, this is a trail that is family-friendly and would be a nice outing. This trail has minimal climbing and an abundance of pine trees. When you arrive you can park at the Leslie Road Paring lot. This is the perfect warm-up trail if you’re thinking about conquering a more challenging trail later on. This is a pet-friendly trail as long as your dogs are leashed.

Based on reviews, this is a well-maintained trail with a variety of rivers, lakes, and wildflowers. The trail is easily marked so you know where you’re going.

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 2.4 Miles

Total Elevation Gain: 291 Feet

Related Read: 17 Best Romantic Getaways in Northeast Ohio

9. Nelson Ledges State Park

Credit: Pittsburgh Post Gazette

If you’re looking for a quick and easy trail to hike during the week or weekend, this is an easy trail that takes about thirty-three minutes to complete. While on this trail you’ll come across caves, forests, rivers, wildflowers, and waterfalls. It has unique rock formations you can climb and cliffs to venture upon. As always, you should explore caution when on the cliffs.

Based on reviews, visitors love being able to climb over and through boulders. They’ve specifically liked the red route which has hiking, rock climbing, and caving. In the summer many visitors even take part in cliff-diving.

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 1.4 Miles

Total Elevation Gain: 111 Feet

10. Goll Woods Loop Trail

Credit: Wikiwand

If you’re planning to hike Goll Woods, just know that it is considered nature heaven! On your hike, you’ll see trees among the scenery that are over four hundred years old and four feet wide. These consist of bur oak, cottonwood, and white oak trees. This isn’t a very popular trail so if you’re looking to avoid trails this is the one for you.

The Goll Woods Loop trail will take you about fifty-eight minutes. The trail is open all year long, but not pet-friendly, you’ll need to leave pets at home. You’ll also want to visit this trail in the springtime before the mosquitoes become overwhelming.

Based on reviews, visitors love that some paths have a nice wood walking path. They have raved about the beautiful scenery and gorgeous nature and animals they run into. The trails are also easy, flat, and well-marked.

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 2.8 Miles

Total Elevation Gain: 19 Feet

11. Ash Cave, Hocking Hills Trail

Credit: Hocking Hills

Ash Cave trail is one of the easier, quick trails you’ll come across if you’re looking for a quick morning hike. You’ll find that the starting point is a paved trail that leads to stairs, which then lead to a waterfall.

This trail is kid-friendly, however, if you have small children and bring strollers, you’ll want to have someone assist you at the stairs portion. Since this is a quick trail, it takes about only fifteen minutes to complete.

Ash Cave is one of the largest caves located in the Hocking Hills area. It has a runoff waterfall and a horseshoe-shaped rim that spans about seven hundred feet. Based on reviews, families who bring their children here like to let their kids play in the sand, climb the boulders, and play in the waterfall.

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 0.5 Miles

Total Elevation Gain: 111 Feet

12. Hog Hollow Trail

Credit: Cleveland

If you’re looking for a moderately challenging hike to complete, you’ll want to consider the Hog Hollow trail. This trail takes approximately two hours to complete. The trail is very quiet, has winding paths, bridges over streams, and consists of ups and downs through the forest. The trail is well-marked and rarely crowded.

For the trail, you’ll want to start at the bridge and once you get to the end, go across the street and climb their fire tower to take in more breathtaking views. There are picnic tables at the fire tower if you need to take a break.

Based on reviews, visitors have said the trail can be a little muddy during the winter months. They recommend going during the fall months to view all of the seasoning colors in the forest.

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 4.7 Miles

Total Elevation Gain:  849 Feet

13. Buckeye Trail

Credit: Ohio Cooperative Living

The Buckeye Trail is located near Cumberland, Ohio, and is a five-mile-long trail. This is an easy hike that the whole family can enjoy. You’ll find that the trail is both wooded and road, which contributes to its easy hike.

You’ll be able to view some of the scenic views that include the Cuyahoga Valley and Hocking Hills areas. This trail is well-marked and takes around two hours to complete.

Based on reviews, visitors love that this is a peaceful trail with very limited noise. After a rain just make sure you watch out for any fallen trees.

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 5 Miles

Total Elevation Gain: 470 Feet

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

14. Quail Hollow Loop

Credit: Stark Parks

The Quail Hollow trail is open all year long and is perfect for hiking, skiing, mountain biking, and trail running. It is located just a short drive from Cleveland and is considered a great hiking destination with flat trails and beautiful scenery. It takes about two hours to complete and is pet-friendly so you can bring your dog as long as they are leashed.

Based on reviews, visitors have said the trail marks can somewhat be confusing to follow. During the cooler months trails can become muddy from the wet weather. Visitors love bringing their cameras to photograph the landscapes and the views of pine trees.

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 3 Miles

Total Elevation Gain: 170 Feet

15. Horseshoe Falls

Credit: Ohio

The Horseshoe Falls trail is an easy hike that is perfect for all ages. The trail will take you through a forest of green and you may even encounter a bit of wildlife during your travels.

Some of the wildlife you may encounter include deer, rabbits, wild turkeys, raccoons, and even foxes. This trail can be completed in approximately forty minutes and is better visited from April thru October.

Based on reviews, visitors say this is the perfect trail if you’re a beginner hiker. The trails are well-marked, but bring a good set of hiking boots as trails are prone to become muddy.

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 1.8 Miles

Total Elevation Gain: 130+ Feet

Article updated:
January 5, 2024

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