California Woods – One of Cincinnati’s Best Hiking Spots!

February 22, 2022
Author : Laura Williams
Photo by Sergei A on Unsplash

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California Woods, a nature area in Cincinnati’s southeast corner, is one of the best spots in the city to thoroughly engage in nature.

The preserve covers over 113 acres of forest and forested regions, is available year-round from dawn to dusk every day of the week, and is free to visit.

California Woods on a Map

The nature center offers year-round nature educational events, as well as a unique butterfly and bird garden and a nature center where park rangers are pleased to answer any questions you may have about the preserve.

While these elements are fantastic, the variety of hiking routes in California Woods is our favorite aspect.

Check out our Complete Guide of the best Hiking spots in Cincinnati.

You need to hike for a few minutes on any of these routes to feel as if you’ve stepped into another world. Best of all, because the forests are so dense, walking through them is naturally quite calm and serene.

You’d be hard pushed to find a finer sight in the city to enjoy this level of peace and isolation, which is one of the many reasons why people flock to the neighborhood.

The trails are around 4 miles long, however, you can extend your journey by choosing numerous interweaving paths through the trails.

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As you begin your trek, one of the first things you’ll notice is the extensive scenery you’ll see. The preserve is home to over 50 distinct tree types and over 200 different plant species, making for a more scenic hike.

The majority of the pathways are well-kept, with some wooden and stone steps constructed into specific sections to make hiking easier.

Lick Run Creek also runs right through the center of the woods, so you’ll likely see kingfishers, turtles, mallards, beavers, and a variety of fish swimming around.

California Woods is a great spot to go if you’re searching for a quiet place to read a book, a peaceful forest area to go trekking in, or simply a place to go and immerse yourself in nature.

California Woods is Worth Visiting

California Woods, situated at 5400 Kellogg Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45230, is open year-round from sunrise to dark on any day of the week.

Keep up with announcements, planned events, and activities in California Woods by visiting the Cincinnati Parks Website.

Check out our complete Guide to Cincinnati’s Parks, Gardens and Nature Centers for more places of serenity.

Best Hiking Gear for California Woods Cincinnati Hikes

California Woods in Cincinnati is easy to hike and doesn’t require any sophisticated hiking gear or heavy backpacks to carry around. However, nice hiking shoes and clothes will most definitely make this hour-long walk with a slight elevation more enjoyable! 

The essential hiking gear for Cincinnati hikes that everyone must have:

  1. Lightweight 18L Osprey backpack for short hikes with a sleeve for a water reservoir. 
  2. Water bottle or cool water reservoir that fits in the backpack (and you walk and drink hands-free!) to stay hydrated or wash hands quickly if needed.
  3. Good quality hiking clothes that “breathe” and dry fast without capturing the odor. Long convertible pants for men and women are preferable as you are walking through a wild-ish forest. If the forecast says it is going to rain or the day seems to be quite windy and fresh, bring your water- and windproof jacket! Patagonia Rain Jacket is great for men, while this REI Co-op rain jacket is perfect for women.
  4. Walking through California Woods you need waterproof hiking boots if you want to enjoy the creek. These waterproof Merrell hiking shoes for women and these waterproof Merrell shoes for men are absolute bestsellers that will take care of your feet during hikes for years to go!
  5. Mosquito and bug repellent or Mosquito Head Net, as well as sunscreen on a sunny day, is a must to protect our skin and our kids’ skin. Bring some painkillers and allergy pills if you have any allergies as there are some wildflowers in California Woods.
  6. Not a must, but pro and senior hikers love walking with hiking poles. It helps you support your knees and distribute the load going up or down.  
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Hiking in California Woods Cincinnati FAQ

Is California Woods good for kids?

Absolutely! You can bring your kids with you to California Woods on shorter trails and meadow trail, and also let them play at the creek. It can be a great outdoorsy day for you and your kids. Some trails can be more challenging and hilly, keep in mind that this is a Nature Reserve and not a park. 

Where is the best place to hike in California Woods Nature Preserve?

California Woods has so many nice well-marked trails, including one along the river, and is perfect to find some peace and quiet and connect with nature. It is a 113-acre forest with massive trees, hills and a stream, and a wild meadow. 

What is the longest trail in California Woods Nature Preserve?

California Woods Trail is the longest trail in California Woods Nature Reserve. It is a loop trail of 2.5 miles (around 4 km) and it will take you around 1 h 5 min to hike depending on your physical state. It has an insignificant elevation of 110m. 

As it is considered a moderate hiking trail, it will be more suitable for adults than for kids. Dogs are not allowed on this trail either, unfortunately. But your can hike, walk and watch wildflowers or run here. 

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