Right now, there is so much uncertainty in the world, and frankly, it’s terrifying. As we continue to navigate our way through this pandemic, Mother Nature keeps doing her thing. For evidence of this, just look outside: Fall is here and Cincinnati is alive with vibrant yellow, orange, and red hues. It’s a much-needed reminder that this season we’re in—of darkness and uncertainty—shall pass. So go out and get that reminder up close and in person. And we know just the place: California Woods Nature Preserve.
Did you know there’s a California, Ohio? California is one of Cincinnati’s 52 neighborhoods; it’s a small river community located at the confluence of the Little Miami and Ohio Rivers, between Lunken Airport and Coney Island. Its eponymous nature preserve is nestled in the center of the neighborhood.
California Woods is one of Cincinnati Parks’s east side parks. It will sneak up on you; one minute, you’re cruising down Kellogg Avenue admiring planes and boats, and the next, you’re turning onto a one-lane, dirt road and into the woods.
California Woods has 133 acres of sprawling, sun-drenched woods, reminiscent of Hocking Hills. It’s hilly and lush and full of life. There are six hiking trails, ranging from the .16-mile Twin Oaks Trail to the mile-long Junction Trail, so there are options for families of all ages. My kids and I enjoy the Trillium Trail, a half-mile loop that takes you deep into the forest.
The Trillium Trail starts off with a series of steps that my kids eagerly attack, Rocky Balboa–style. While the climb is a bit challenging for little (and big!) legs, it’s well worth the effort. When you finally make it to the top of Trillium Trail, you’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking, 360-degree panorama of California Woods. It’s so quiet and peaceful, you’ll forget that you’re just minutes away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
California Woods is a true Cincinnati treasure. It’s the kind of place that fills you with awe and wonder, where you may or may not have a full-on transcendental moment.
California Woods Nature Preserve, 5400 Kellogg Ave., California, (513) 357-2604