South Bass Island by Matthew Hoffman

4 Outdoor Day Trips in Ohio

If you’re looking for a day’s worth of adventure, these outdoor spots across the state provide great experiences among trails, woods and water. 

South Bass Island: Put-in-Bay is a fun town, but there is plenty to explore once the party is over. History buffs can head to Perry’s Victory & International Peace Memorial, while nature lovers can explore the public parks and shoreline views as they wind their way around South Bass Island’s perimeter. One of the smallest stops on that route is the not-quite-half-acre Captain Alfred Parker Park. Named after a former Put-in-Bay Township trustee and longtime Lake Erie islands ferry boat captain, the park sits perched along a limestone cliff that looks out over the waters of Lake Erie and the Green Island wildlife refuge in the distance. It’s also located next to the South Bass Island Lighthouse (open for Friday summer tours of up to five people at a time by reservation) along the island’s southern end, a little over 2 miles from the bustle of Delaware Avenue. 2368 Langram Rd., Put-in-Bay 43456, 419/285-2292,

Stand-up paddleboarders on Alum Creek Lake (photo courtesy of Ohio Department of Natural Resources)
Alum Creek State Park: Alum Creek State Park offers summer travelers an array of activities, from camping to hiking, but its main draw is the 3,387-surface-acre Alum Creek Lake. Visit the 3,000-foot beach — the largest inland beach in the Ohio State Parks system — to sunbathe and swim, or stop by the marina to rent a kayak or paddleboard and head out on the water. The north end of the lake offers a more serene atmosphere and quiet inlets for those looking for a leisurely float. (A 38-mile bridle trail winds along the northern half as well.) The unlimited-horsepower portion of the lake south of Cheshire Road is livelier, drawing boaters and water skiers. That’s where you’ll find the beach, as well as a fenced, four-acre dog park that offers dog-only water access. 3305 S. Old State Rd., Delaware 43015, 740/548-4631,

Child at The Ledges in Cuyahoga Valley National Park (photo by Stefanie Cinadr)
Cuyahoga Valley National Park: One of the most picturesque sites within Ohio’s only national park, The Ledges provides the opportunity to walk beside the base and along the top of rock formations created out of Sharon Conglomerate millions of years ago. The 1.8-mile trail offers a mildly challenging hike that leads to the Ledges Overlook and a view west across the lush green summer treetops of the Cuyahoga River Valley. It makes for a perfect place to take in a sunset, and you won’t be alone if you do. A vast open green space near the trailhead (and within an easy walk of the parking lot) provides an inviting spot for a summer picnic. If you want to explore further, trails from The Ledges lead to additional opportunities for hiking in the Virginia Kendall area of the park. 405 Truxell Rd., Peninsula 44264, 440/717-3890,

Horse and rider on the Hocking State Forest Bridle Trail (photo by Josh Mund)
Hocking Hills: The Hocking State Forest Bridle Trail stretches 40 miles throughout the region. Although portions of the rugged route are located just minutes from popular Hocking Hills attractions like Old Man’s Cave and Conkles Hollow State Nature Preserve, the trail passes by lesser-seen rock formations and waterfalls one can’t easily access from the road. One of those natural landmarks is Chapel Cave, so named because of the pointed shape of its entrance. (It is also known as 21 Horse Cave because it is said to be large enough to hold 21 horses and their riders.) To reach this cave, head to the Hocking State Forest Rock Climbing and Rappelling Area and look for the trailhead at the north end of the parking lot. From there, it’s about a 1.5-mile walk (with a couple turns along the way) before you reach Chapel Cave. 24798 Big Pine Rd., Logan 43138,

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