There’s an Old-Growth Forest Hiding in Cincinnati

This fall, visit the Cincinnati Nature Center’s Rowe Woods and hike among giants.

Photograph by Sarah McCosham

I have lived in Cincinnati for pretty much my entire life, but I am a Pacific Northwesterner at heart. The rugged coastlines, majestic mountains, lush forests, and mild climate all make the PNW completely irresistible for this lifelong Midwesterner. But while Cincinnati may not have oceans, mountains, or a mild climate, the Queen City does have its very own old-growth forest, which you’ll find in the Cincinnati Nature Center’s Rowe Woods.

Photograph by Sarah McCosham

The Cincinnati Nature Center (CNC) is one of those places I often forget about, but after a recent visit to Rowe Woods with my family, it’s a place that’s sure to stay on my radar. Rowe Woods is 1,016 acres of pure natural beauty; its 14 miles of trails traverse deciduous woodlands, fields, streams, ponds, wetlands—and ancient forest. We visited on a glorious fall day, eager to tackle one of the CNC’s many hiking trails. And as we were perusing the trail map to pick the perfect afternoon adventure, we stumbled upon a hike that promised to deliver a small piece of the PNW experience in Cincinnati.

Photograph by Sarah McCosham

Did you know that CNC was home to 65 acres of old-growth forest? CNC’s Upland Trail takes explorers straight through it—and, at just 1.34 miles long, Upland Trail makes for a picture-perfect day hike for families.

Photograph by Sarah McCosham

This trail offers big payoffs with little effort. It meanders around the perimeter of Rowe Woods, showcasing the myriad ecosystems and wildlife of southwest Ohio. There’s also that wondrous old-growth forest—one of only a dozen in the entire state, in fact. The opportunity to walk among ancient, real-life giants is something you shouldn’t pass up. My kids were awestruck by the immense grandeur of these trees, and it was a humbling and grounding experience I’m so glad we were able to share together.

Cincinnati is not Oregon or Washington—but that’s OK. Because we have our own forests to enjoy. Right now, we’re entering one of the most beautiful times of the year: a season of crisp temperatures and breathtaking fall foliage. And at the Cincinnati Nature Center’s Rowe Woods, Mother Nature’s stunning third act is happening right before our eyes.

Cincinnati Nature Center, Rowe Woods, 4949 Tealtown Rd., Milford

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