Whatever you’re into — whether it’s biking, hiking, fitness, nature, horseback riding or just a casual stroll — you can find it within the Great Parks of Hamilton County and their list of trails. If you’re an avid explorer, you may want to consider entering their Hiking Staff Program. If you’ve ever been on a public trail, or even just a walk, you know the person with a hiking staff. And you know that every time you see the hiking staff person, you can’t deny asking yourself, “Where’s my hiking staff?”
You can become the hiking staff person. All you have to do is hike seven Great Parks trails and fill out a form confirming your explorations and then purchase your staff for $3. Oh, and every year you complete the seven trail task, you can add a medallion to your staff commemorating your work. So not only will you be a walking staff person, you’ll be a bedazzled walking staff person. You’ll practically own the trails.
You can pick any of the trails listed on Great Parks of Hamilton County’s website, but here are three to start with. Learn more at greatparks.org.
Winton Woods — This Springfield Township trail runs along Winton Lake and features 2.6-miles of paved trails, including a 1.1 mile fitness trail and the 1.1 mile Kingfisher nature trail, plus an additional 0.7 miles of horseback trails. 10245 Winton Road, Springfield Township.
Sharon Woods — Sharon Woods is known for its Gorge Trail, which has been a designated state nature preserve since 1977 due to its abundance of native plant and animal life. This nature trail is made for casual strolls through 0.7 miles of natural scenery and breathtaking woodsy views. 11450 Lebanon Road, Sharonville.
Miami Whitewater Forest — The largest park of Great Parks of Hamilton County, Miami Whitewater Forest has multiple trails for explorers to navigate. Visitors can really expect to get their numbers up on the 7.8 mile Shaker Trace trail. This trail wraps around the Miami Whitewater Forest where you’ll find yourself taking in all sorts of scenery like lake views, wetlands, never-ending prairies and rich farmland. 9001 Mt. Hope Road, Harrison.
And if you want to explore some more, Cincinnati Parks’ system was just ranked no. 5 in the nation by the Trust for Public Land in their Annual ParkScore Index Report. Parks and trails have remained open during COVID-19 and Cincinnati Parks is encouraging users to maintain social distancing and healthy habits while outside. Rocky Merz, Cincinnati Parks’ business services division manager, recommends these trails. Learn more at cincinnatiparks.com.
Mt. Airy Forest — “Last year, the city and partner organization CORA (Cincinnati Off-Road Alliance) opened the first 1.4-mile section of the new Mt. Airy Multi-Use Trail, which includes mountain biking. The trail is the first off-road bike trail in Cincinnati Parks. Phase two will total 1.5 miles and work is underway now. Bikers and hikers are sure to enjoy this popular new attraction nestled within Mt. Airy Forest, our largest park at 1,474 acres.” 2239 W. Fork Road, Mt. Airy.
The Riverfront Trail — “Bordering downtown Cincinnati are three connected signature parks extending 2 miles along the scenic Ohio River — Smale Riverfront Park, Sawyer Point and Theodore M. Berry International Friendship Park. Here, it’s easy to take in the beauty of the river, the majesty of downtown Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. For nature lovers, despite its urban setting, Smale Park has even been designated as an arboretum.” 166 W. Mehring Way, Downtown.
French Park — “Last summer, the hiking trail system at French Park was refurbished, including the construction of new bridges, steps and reopening sections of trail closed due to fallen trees, debris and erosion...These trails, weaving around a beautiful stream, are great for individuals, friends and the whole family.” 3012 Section Road, Amberley Village.