June 5th, 2022 by

Rather than shelter indoors for the cold months, consider strapping on your hiking shoes and tackling one of the great winter hikes around the Columbus, Ohio, area. In addition to getting in shape, winter hiking is a great way to refresh your mind and spirits after weeks spent indoors.


It’s a bit of a trek from Columbus — about 40 minutes southeast from the city center over in Lancaster — but the Christmas Rocks State Nature Preserve is one of the best nearby destinations for immersing yourself in nature. You’ll find about 4.5 miles of trails to explore in this preserve. For a spectacular view, make your way up Jacob’s Ladder, which sits 250 feet above the valley. If you’re thinking of picking up a new hobby, this protected area offers great opportunities for bird-watching.


Highbanks is one of the most gorgeous parks year-round. From the streams to the 100-foot bluff, there’s plenty to be in awe of at this must-see park wedged between Powell and Flint. There are multiple trails of varying difficulties to try. For a challenge, take on the 3.5-mile Coyote Run, which is also a great cross-country skiing trail when the conditions are right. For a more leisurely hike, try any number of the trails less than half a mile.


Head to Homestead Metro Park in Hillard to explore 44 acres and plenty of trails to tackle. The three-quarter-mile trail in the park meets up with the much longer 6.1-mile Heritage Rail Trail if you’re searching for more of a challenge. If you want a more casual day, take a walk around the 2.5-acre fishing pond and the nostalgic covered bridge. Homestead is one of our picks for enjoying a winter’s day out with the kids, thanks to everything there is to do and see here.


Near the Westerville suburb, you’ll find the Inniswood Metro Gardens. This natural expanse is 123 acres large and full of streams and woodland to explore. If you’re looking for a leisurely winter hike, this is where you’ll find it. Maintained gardens fill the park to create a picture-perfect winter scene perfect for a brisk stroll. There are several gravel and paved trails to explore, none over .6 miles long. Admission to Inniswood is free.


Walnut Woods Metro Park — specifically the Tall Pines Area — is one of our favorite nature destinations in the winter. This 1,170-acre park is full of examples of Ohio’s natural state. If you’re looking for a beautiful walk, be sure to take on the 2.6-mile Sweetgum Trail to enjoy some of the best scenery the park has to offer. If you’re looking for a good sledding spot, you’ll find some of the area’s best at Walnut Woods.

From short, paved nearby city paths to grand natural preserves, there are plenty of hikes you can take on this winter. Be sure you bring a small emergency kit and a good cold weather-rated coat to stay safe as you explore Ohio’s natural beauty.

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