A Guide to Ohio's Best Camping, Hiking and More

A waterfall

Ohio has some of the best places to explore in the Midwest. I’ve lived in this great state my whole life, and Ohio still surprises me with how many phenomenal camping and hiking spots it holds. And although I have more favorite locations than I can name, here are some at the top of my family’s list.

These are my top places to visit in Ohio:
A beach in Maumee Bay State Park, Oregon, Ohio.

1. Maumee Bay State Park, Oregon, Ohio

I call myself a bird nerd. One of my favorite places to birdwatch is Maumee Bay State Park, located on the beautiful shores of Lake Erie. We head here every year for our annual birding trip to see the migration of warblers as they make their way north. Northwest Ohio is the warbler capital of the world and one of the very best places for watching spring migration, due to the  recorded 325 bird species that pass through the area. The Ohio shoreline of Lake Erie contains protected wetlands that make the perfect habitat for birds, including great blue herons, red-winged blackbirds, swamp sparrows and hundreds more, sure to delight even the most experienced bird watchers.  

Pro tip: Bring your binoculars and if you come during spring migration, pack a few layers to account for mercurial Midwest weather.

A wooded trail at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, Grove City, Ohio.

2. Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, Grove City, Ohio

In Central Ohio, Grove City has a surprising selection of urban adventures. I was delighted to discover this location while doing some research to find a family activity near Columbus. We recommend renting a kayak or canoe through Trapper John’s Canoe Livery and taking a winding trip down the Scioto River. After you put your paddles away, choose from one of many trails for a leisurely (or challenging) hike, then cap off the day enjoying the view from the visitor center of enclosed Bison––a native species that has been reintroduced to the park. 

Pro tip: Make sure to check out the metro park activity called Feed the Stream, especially if you have kids in tow.

A sunset trail travel trailer parked at a campground.

3. Hocking Hills State Park, Logan, Ohio

In Southern Ohio, there are premiere hiking trails at Hocking Hills State Park. I love coming here to seek out gorgeous natural waterfalls and enjoy the stunning rock formations. To me, Hocking Hills is the crown jewel of the Ohio State Parks system.   

For those who love adrenaline rushes, check out High Rock Adventures for eco-friendly rock-climbing tours. (You might be surprised to know that even grandmas can rock climb.)  

Our favorite place to camp here is the Logan/Hocking Hills KOA where our family enjoys relaxing after an afternoon of exploring. With so much adventure in Hocking Hills, it’s good to know you have a place with all the amenities you need to have a great evening by the campfire. 

Pro-tip: Bring sturdy hiking shoes! 

A serene lake at during sunrise at Punderson State Park and Geauga Park District, Geauga County, Ohio.

4. Punderson State Park and Geauga Park District, Geauga County, Ohio

Tucked up in the northeast corner of Ohio is Geauga County, one of my favorite winter destinations, but a beautiful part of the state at any time of year. When we’re here, we love to visit every maple syrup producer we can find, sampling all the varieties of “amber gold” that Mother Nature has to offer.

Punderson State Park is ideal for snow tubing in the winter, and has great swimming, camping and disc golf in the warmer months. At Geauga Park District, we love a hike to Anson’s Cave. In the winter, we strap on snowshoes, which the park rents out daily, making it easy to enjoy a family activity in winter weather without needing to own all the winter gear yourself––an ideal solution for grandkids whose feet seem to grow by the day.

Pro-tip: Look for the map of maple syrup locations and then make a tour of taste testing. 

Flowers blooming by a lake at Caesar Creek State Park, Waynesville, Ohio.

5. Caesar Creek State Park, Waynesville, Ohio

Many of our adventures include helping kids to learn something new. Caesar Creek State Park has a wealth of programs to help people learn about the nature inside the park, perfect for both adults and children. They even have a fossil field where you can search for fossils and take home what you find; the perfect way to get young people excited about natural history. Make sure you check out the Nature Center, too.  

Caesar Creek State Park Campground is also the perfect base camp for visiting the Cincinnati area, as it has scenic, spacious RV sites with full hookups. We love boating on the lake or taking a day of roller coaster fun at Kings Island while we are camping here.  

Pro-tip: You need a permit from the visitor center to collect fossils.  

Lush green grass and beautiful trees open up to a lake.

6. Morgan County, Ohio

I love history and Morgan County is packed with it. On one of my most recent trips to the area, we checked out the Stockport Mill Inn, the last standing mill on the Muskingum River. Within a short driving distance from the inn, you can see the sights of the Big Bottom Massacre, historic Stockport Lock #6 and where the Morgan Raiders came through during the Civil War. Make sure to check out the Muskie Bucket at the Miner’s Memorial Park, where you can see a huge piece of Ohio’s coal history.

Burr Oak State Park is a short drive away in Glouster, where we enjoy getting outdoors for some backcountry hiking on the Buckeye Trail or pontoon boating. You can stay in the stunning lodge, fantastic cabins or in the beautiful campground which is all located here within the 2,593-acre state park. 

Pro-Tip: Come here in the summer to watch the locks in action!

Plan this trip yourself:

See all the locations mentioned above and start planning your road trip.