Best Day Trip Training Hikes from Central Ohio?

Kylie D.Kylie D.
edited February 2018 in Hiking
I am a new hiker that would love to build up my stamina bit by bit for a longer backpacking trip later this year. I know of several great locations to start in the Columbus/Lancaster area, but I was wondering if there are any other locations in the Indiana/Kentucky/Pennsylvania/West Virginia area that anyone would personally recommend to build up endurance? 

I know there are SO many wonderful hiking opportunities, but wanted to get the consensus. 


  • Hey Kylie,

    If you are willing to extend your trip into Pennsylvania I would recommend the Minister Creek Trail, or a number of others, in the Allegheny National Forest.  This is a six or seven mile loop with lots of ups and downs.  I used it to build my endurance for a much longer hike a few years ago.

    There is also the North Country Trail that runs through this area if you want a long hike, but my experience with the NCT in the Allegheny National Forest has been that it is pretty flat and uneventful.

    Another Western Pa endurance builder is the Slippery Rock Gorge Trail at McConnell’s Mills State Park.  Again about six or seven miles and nothing but big ups and downs.

    Hope this helps!
  • Well, is a great place to start - I assume you have visited the Hiking maps ( where you can filter by state and length, skill, difficulty, etc.   Check the Top 100 user-rated trails too - 6 are in the states you specified.

    I live in PA and have to agree with Brian, there are lots of great hiking opportunities in the Allegheny National Forest - I like the Cook Forest area.  Some are easier, some are harder.  Many are close enough to string together to create a longer hike.  The terrain can be rather steep at times but the trails are fairly well maintained.

    McConnell's Mills as mentioned above is another great area with multiple trails.  Be aware around McConnell's Mills and pay attention to warning signs for rapids and slippery slopes.  There have been multiple tragedies due to people ignoring the warnings  and leaving the trail in areas known to be hazardous.

    You could also pick up part of the Rachel Carson trail that runs through Western PA (its about 35 miles) and the area around Ohiopyle is scenic with many trails as well.  

    Good luck!

  • If you are in the Cincinnati area, the Cincinnati Nature Center offers several trails for varying experience levels, many great learning opportunities, and knowledgeable staff. 
  • Minister Creek is a good one. Will get the heart rate up
  • The Cuyahoga Valley National Park outside of Akron, Ohio is really nice.  A huge variety of trails.  The Cleveland Metroparks has a large selection as well.  Not to mention the Towpath Trails that start well South of Canton and go all the way up to Lake Erie.
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