Ohio’s lake beaches, forested hills, and winding rivers set the stage for outdoor adventure.
With its vast agricultural plains hemmed in by mountains, lakes, and rivers, Ohio’s natural scenery covers all terrains. Beach breaks await along the sandy shores of Lake Erie to the north, while to the east, ancient caves and waterfalls are hidden away in the forested foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. Outdoor activities take place through all four seasons, from hiking and canoeing to snowshoeing and ice fishing, and camping is possible year-round. Summer temperatures average 80°F, and this is prime time for campers, but the views are most spectacular in the fall, when the eastern hills are ablaze with colorful foliage.
Sandy beaches and island getaways dot the 312-mile shore of Lake Erie, stretching from Toledo through Cleveland to Conneaut. East Harbor State Park is a highlight of the Lake Erie Birding Trail, and birders flock to nearby Maumee Bay State Park during the spring warbler migration. The most scenic spots for summer camping are on the islands, and regular ferries set out for the Bass Islands and Kelleys Island state parks.
Cornfields and farmlands blanket Ohio’s central region, but there are also more than a dozen state parks within a short drive of Columbus. The limestone gorges of John Bryan State Park harbor some of the region’s best hiking trails, while to the north, the Mohican River is one of Ohio’s top spots for canoeing. For beaches, boating, and lakeside campgrounds, Indian Lake State Park and Alum Creek State Park are both popular choices.
East of the Till Plains, the patchwork farmlands of Amish Country lead the way to the state’s only national park, Cuyahoga Valley. This is where Ohio’s adventurous spirit comes into its own—take a ride on the Cuyahoga Valley Railroad, go ziplining or caving in the Hocking Hills State Park, or enjoy backcountry camping in the heart of the Wayne National Forest.
Rambling woodlands and steep cliffs line the banks of the Ohio River in the state’s southernmost region. Just outside Cincinnati, East Fork State Park has one of the largest state campgrounds in Ohio, while the rugged landscapes of the Shawnee State Park are just a 2-hour drive from the city. For hikers, the ultimate challenge is the North Country National Scenic Trail, which cuts through southern Ohio.