Celebrate spring by hitting the hiking trails in Yellow Springs. Just an hour north of Cincinnati, the town also offers plenty of places to shop and eat to round out your visit.
Glen Helen Nature Preserve
This 1,000 acre preserve began with land donated to Antioch College, which still manages it via the Glen Helen Ecology Institute. Open daily from dawn to dusk, a 25-mile network of footpaths allows you to explore the diverse landscape of streams, woods, and fields. Not to miss: the town’s namesake yellow spring is found here. Parking is available just off Corry Street, right near the Glen Helen Building and Trailside Museum—a good stop for any younger hikers, and the place to pick up a trail map (or find it here). 405 Corry St., Yellow Springs, (937) 769-1902, glen.antiochcollege.org/glen_helen
Vertical rock will tower above you, waterfalls will crash beside you, and massive fallen stones will line your path as you make your way through the two-mile stretch of Clifton Gorge—one of the best examples of post-glacial canyon cutting around. Head to the northern slope for one of the top places in the state to see spring wildflowers. Designated as a National Natural Landmark in 1968, this 286-acre preserve will leave you struggling to believe you are still in west-central Ohio. Parking is provided, and you’ll find a map and more info here. 2381 State Rt. 343, Yellow Springs, naturepreserves.ohiodnr.gov/cliftongorge
John Bryan State Park
Just west of Clifton Gorge, the Little Miami River continues through John Bryan State Park, dropping 130 feet and cutting a limestone gorge. Trek throughout the 752 acres to experience the history shown by layers of bedrock, and the biodiversity: the park is home to more than 100 different trees and shrubs and more than 340 types of wildflower. Nine hiking trails—including some that allow mountain biking—and four picnic areas are enough to fill at least a day (find the map here). 3790 State Rt. 370, Yellow Springs, (937) 767-1274, parks.ohiodnr.gov/johnbryan