Parks, Gardens, and Nature Centers in Cincinnati – A Comprehensive Guide

August 25, 2021
Author : Laura Williams

In her book The Nature Fix, journalist and author Florence Williams offers some fascinating findings on how spending time in nature may improve intellect, reduce anxiety, increase mood, and stimulate creative thinking. Even minor doses of nature, such as houseplants, 10-minute outdoor walks, and forest screensavers, have been shown to boost overall happiness.

Nature, simply put, has the power to make us healthier, happier, and more creative.

For those of us who live in Cincinnati, the good news is that there are numerous locations across the city where you can get outside and immediately feel these benefits.

We have compiled a list of over 40 municipal parks, nature centers, gardens, and green places where you can get a good dose of nature.

Note: A Great Parks of Hamilton County motor vehicle permit is required for parks with an asterisk (*). A Hamilton County resident will pay $10 for the permit, while a non-resident will pay $16. Hamilton County residents can purchase day permits at park entrance booths for $5 apiece, but non-residents must pay $8.

Maps of Green Spaces

Every green space referenced in this post is shown on the map below.

Alms Park

Address: 710 Tusculum Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45226 (Columbia-Tusculum)

Alms Park, located atop Mt. Tusculum on Cincinnati’s east side, offers breathtaking views of the Ohio River, the Little Miami River, northern Kentucky’s hills, and the Lunken Airport. The park, which spans over 94 acres, features many hiking routes, a playground, picnic spaces, a pavilion that can be rented, and several breathtaking overlook locations. Here’s where you can get a detailed guide to Alms Park.

Annwood Park

Address: 1900 Madison Rd. Cincinnati, OH, 45206 (East Walnut Hills)

Annwood Park is a little park in the East Walnut Hills neighborhood with a pond, a meandering walkway, benches, shaded grass areas great for reading or resting, and a stunning grotto waterfall. Despite its small size, this park provides a pleasant respite from the rush of city life and is ideal for enjoying some serene nature.

Ault Park

Address: 5090 Observatory Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45208 (Mt. Lookout)

Ault Park is one of Cincinnati’s most well-known and scenic parks. This park, located in the Mt. Vantage neighborhood, is over 224 acres in size and features paved walking routes, a lovely garden, picnic spaces, nature trails, a pavilion, and a great lookout point. If you’re searching for a tranquil, quiet location to appreciate some nature in the city, this is one of the most fantastic places to go.

Avon Woods Nature Center

Address: 4235 Paddock Rd, Cincinnati, OH 45229 (North Avondale)

Avon Woods Nature Center is located in North Avondale, behind the Avon Fields Golf Course. Because most people are unaware of its presence, this is one of the most private and quiet areas to get out in nature, with a nature center, many park benches, a few fire pits, and around 2.5 miles of interwoven hiking trails.

Bender Mountain Nature Preserve

Address: 6320-6468 Bender Rd, Cincinnati, OH 45233 (Delhi)

Bender Mountain Nature Preserve is one of Cincinnati’s lesser-known natural sites. Six different hiking paths are available in this preserve, most of which are accessible via Bender Road. Each of the routes takes you through densely forested woodlands with hundreds of various plant species, as well as a few unique viewpoints that offer spectacular views of the Ohio River. This map will give you a visual representation of the six various trails.

Burnet Woods

Address: 3251 Brookline Ave, Cincinnati, OH 4522 (Clifton)

Burnet Woods is a city park with almost 90 acres and features a disc golf course, hiking paths, a fishing lake, and several different picnic and shelter places. It is located just a short walk away from the University of Cincinnati campus as well as the Gaslight District. For a list of weekly activities at the park, visit the Preserve Burnet Woods website.

Buttercup Valley Preserve

Address: 1558 Stanford Dr, Cincinnati, OH 45223 (Northside)

Buttercup Valley Preserve, located in the trendy Northside district, is an excellent place to get away from it all for a spell. The preserve includes multiple interconnecting pathways in a woodland area rich in flora and wildlife, ideal for hiking and dog walking. Prepare for a good workout because many of the trails are extremely steep.

Caldwell Nature Preserve

Address: 430 W North Bend Rd, Cincinnati, OH 45216 (Finneytown)

Caldwell Wildlife Preserve is a lesser-known nature preserve in the Queen City. The preserve, which is just west of Finneytown, features a mix of old-growth woodland and newly planted trees. It’s easy to view species such as birds, reptiles, and amphibians thanks to the preserve’s nearly 3.5 miles of total pathways.

A Nature Center is also located on the preserve, where you may learn more about the local species and speak with a park ranger. There’s also an auditorium, picnic spaces, and a paved cement trail with a beautiful view of the ravine below. Caldwell Nature Preserve is covered in detail in our Caldwell Nature Preserve guide.

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California Woods Nature Preserve

Address: 5400 Kellogg Ave. Cincinnati, OH 45230 (California)

California Woods Nature Preserve is one outdoor place that might make you feel like you’ve entered another state. This preserve is a nature lover’s dream, with over 113 acres of forest and year-round nature educational events. It has over 50 distinct tree species and over 200 different plant species, and the Lick Run Creek, which runs through the preserve, is home to kingfishers, turtles, mallards, beavers, and a variety of fish.

During the warmer months, there is also a butterfly and hummingbird garden in front of the nature center that is fun to visit. So, if you want to get away from the city for a time, this is the spot for you.

Cincinnati Nature Center

Address: 4949 Tealtown Rd, Milford, OH 45150 (Milford)

Next up is Cincinnati Nature Center, which many considered to be the best site in the city for truly absorbing yourself in nature. This nature area, located on the city’s east side in Milford, comprises more than 1,000 acres (including 65 acres of old-growth forest) and offers 16 miles of hiking. The facility is open all year, but daily entrance for adults is $9, or you can acquire a yearlong membership for the same price. You may learn more about their admittance, hours, and fees by visiting their website.

Devou Park

Address: 1201 Park Dr, Covington, KY 41011 (Covington, KY)

Devou Park, located across the Ohio River near Covington, is a 700-acre park with hiking trails, biking routes, a fishing pond, and a spectacular view of Cincinnati across the river. Gravity Hill, a strange route in the park where gravity appears to behave in reverse, is also worth checking out.

East Fork State Park

Address: 3294 Elklick Rd, Bethel, OH 45106 (Bethel)

East Fork State Park, roughly 25 miles east of Cincinnati, is a state park. This massive park, which covers 4,800 acres, provides chances for hiking, camping, swimming, and boating. It also boasts a few beaches where you can relax and enjoy the sand and sea without traveling to the coast. Before you go, familiarise yourself with the region and the attractions by using this park map.

Eden Park

Address: 950 Eden Park Dr, Cincinnati, OH 45202 (Mt. Adams)

Eden Park is one of Cincinnati’s most well-known parks, with stunning views of the Ohio River and Northern Kentucky. The park, which comprises 186 acres and is located on the outskirts of the Mt. Adams neighborhood, has various hiking trails, a basketball court, a gazebo, plenty of green space for picnics, a pond with a fountain, Krohn Conservatory, and the Seasongood Pavilion.

Embshoff Woods*

Address: 4050 Paul Rd, Cincinnati, OH 45238 (Riverside)

Embshoff Woods is a Riverside neighborhood park with a 1.0-mile fitness walk, a 9-hole disc golf course, a playground, and a number of shelters and picnic spaces. The fitness track is rarely crowded, making it a pleasant area to exercise while taking in the scenery.

Farbach-Werner Nature Preserve*

Address: 3455 Poole Rd, Colerain Township, OH 45251 (Colerain)

Farbach-Werner Nature Preserve in Colerain is a beautiful spot despite being one of the city’s lesser parks. The preserve spans slightly over 20 acres and features a well-kept 0.6-mile walking track with a butterfly and wildflower garden. There’s also a charming two-story barn with nature programs, exhibitions, and special events.

Fernald Preserve

Address: 7400 Willey Rd, Hamilton, OH 45013 (New Baltimore)

Once a nuclear weapons complex, Fernald Refuge is now a nature and wildlife preserve 20 miles northwest of Cincinnati. The park, which spans over 1,050 acres, includes over 7 miles of paved and unpaved trails and a significant visitors’ center where you can learn about the preserve’s history and conversion from a nuclear weapon complex to a nature preserve. This is a genuinely unique area to see, and hikers, birders, and photographers will all enjoy it.

Fernbank Park*

Address: 50 Thornton Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45233 (Sayler Park)

In Sayler Park on the west side of town, Fernbank Park is a local favorite park that stands right along the Ohio River and features a 1.2-mile paved walk, a 1.0-mile Sycamore nature trail, a playground, and access to Ohio Riverbank fishing. The park is well-kept and provides a pleasant setting for some wildlife viewing, a short walk, and a picnic when the weather permits.

French Park

Address: 3012 Section Rd, Cincinnati, OH 45237 (Amberley)

French Park, in Amberley, is another one of Cincinnati’s hidden beauties. The park, which spans 275 acres, is home to a magnificent two-story brick building known as The French House and a number of hiking trails, and a picnic pavilion with grills and tables.

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Throughout the park, hiking routes wind through forested areas and along creek beds.

The longest trail loop is roughly three miles long, but you can combine various paths to hike for as long as you want. Here’s where you can get a detailed guide to French Park.

Glenwood Gardens

Address: 10397 Springfield Pike, Cincinnati, OH 45215 (Woodlawn)

Glenwood Gardens is one of my favorite natural locations in the Queen City. Glenwood Gardens, located between Woodlawn and Glendale, is a 335-acre park with a 1.0-mile asphalt garden loop and a 1.6-mile gravel wetland loop that weaves its way through the park, providing magnificent views of trees, rivers, prairies, gardens, and more.

Glenwood Gardens is a great place to visit if you’re searching for a gorgeous spot to take photos, a place to walk your dog, or a well-kept hiking trail. Here’s where you can get a detailed guide to Glenwood Gardens.

International Friendship Park

Address: 1135 Riverside Dr, Cincinnati, OH 45202 (Mt. Adams)

International Friendship Park is a peaceful, small park near Downtown Cincinnati, located along the Ohio River. This isn’t the largest park, but it’s a fantastic spot to go for a quiet walk and enjoy beautiful views of the Ohio River, with plenty of paved paths, well-maintained landscaping, flowers and fauna, and numerous historical markings.

Lake Isabella*

Address: 10174 Loveland-Madeira Road, Loveland, OH 45140 (Loveland)

Lake Isabella is a 28-acre pay lake in Loveland filled weekly from March to October and accessible by a bank, dock, or rental boat. Canoes and kayaks are not permitted on the lake. Picnic spots, a playground, and access to the Little Miami River are all available at the park.

Miami Whitewater Forest*

Address: 9001 Mt Hope Rd, Harrison, OH 45030 (Harrison)

Miami Whitewater Forest near Harrison is one of Cincinnati’s largest nature reserves, with approximately 4,300 acres. Several hiking paths, asphalt walking trails, a 1.4-mile fitness trail, and horseback riding trails are available. A lake with a boathouse, a golf course, a 9-hole disc golf course, various shelters, and picnic spaces, and an 11-acre dog park are all part of the park.

Mitchell Memorial Forest*

Address: 5401 Zion Rd, Cleves, OH 45002 (Grandview)

Mitchell Memorial Forest is a densely forested park on the city’s west side with a challenging mountain biking track, a 1.0-mile nature trail, a catch-and-release fishing pond, a playground, and picnic areas.

Mt. Airy Forest

Address: 5083 Colerain Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45223 (Mt. Airy)

Mt. Airy Forest is one of Cincinnati’s most popular parks. This park, which spans 1,459 acres, features numerous miles of hiking trails, mountain bike paths, an enclosed dog park, and one of the city’s top 18-hole disc golf courses. There are other picnic and shelter spaces, barbecue grills, and swing sets in the park.

Mt. Echo Park

Address: 202 Crestline Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45205 (Mt. Airy)

Mt. Echo Park, located near Price Hill on the city’s west side, is an 84-acre park with a spectacular view of downtown Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. There are many shelters and picnic sites and a small pavilion, and a short walking trail in the park.

Mount Storm Park

Location: 700 Lafayette Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45223 (Mt. Airy)

Located just a few minutes from The Gaslight DistrictMount Storm Park is a quiet, hilly park that spans 57 acres. It offers a playground, a shelter, and an overlook with some lovely views of Clifton. While the park has no hiking or walking trails, it does have a large open grassy area where you can bring a blanket and enjoy the weather when it’s warm out.

Otto Armleder Park

Address: 5057 Wooster Pike, Cincinnati, OH 45227 (Linwood)

Otto Armleder Park, located near Linwood, is a 238-acre park with hiking paths, a bike route, a playground area, shelters, and numerous soccer fields. It’s also home to one of the city’s largest dog parks. This park is ideal for going for a stroll, a run, a bike ride, or simply enjoying the outdoors with your dog.

Parker Woods

Address: 1558 Stanford Dr, Cincinnati, OH 45223 (Northside)

Parker Woods, which is located in the Northside neighborhood, is connected to Buttercup Valley Preserve, which was mentioned earlier in this essay. Parker Woods has several miles of interconnected hiking routes, woodland spaces to relax, and dozens of plant species to appreciate. This is a lovely area to get away from the city and enjoy some nature and peace.

Redbird Hollow

Address: 6168 Given Rd, Cincinnati, OH 45243 (Indian Hill)

Redbird Hollow is one of Cincinnati’s lesser-known natural habitats. Because it’s a trail with only one entrance at a curve in the road in Indian Hill, this is the case. Despite its difficulty in finding, this trail is popular among residents, particularly dog walkers and trail runners. The trail is a three-mile out-and-back gravel path with vistas of rivers, creekbeds, woodlands, and hundreds of plant species.

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Rheinstrom Park

Address: 8105 Graves Rd, Cincinnati, OH 45243 (Indian Hill)

Rheinstrom Park, located in the upscale Indian Hill neighborhood, is another lovely natural area. This is a peaceful park with 27 acres of asphalt walking routes that are ideal for a leisurely stroll.

Sharon Woods*

Address: 11450 Lebanon Rd, Sharonville, OH 45241 (Sharonville)

Sharon Woods is another of our favorite parks in Cincinnati, with a total area of approximately 730 acres. There are dozens of picnic spots with shelters and volleyball courts, a paved trail that winds around the 35-acre Sharon Lake, a fitness trail, a Gorge nature trail, and a fitness trail.

The park also features a boathouse where guests can rent pedal boats and pontoon boats to take out on the lake, weather permitting.

Here’s where you can get a detailed guide to Sharon Woods.

Shawnee Lookout*

Address: 2008 Lawrenceburg, North Bend, OH 45052 (North Bend)

Shawnee Lookout is a 2,430-acre park on Cincinnati’s far west side that borders both Indiana and the Ohio River. Shawnee is noted for Native American archaeological earthworks, various hiking routes that weave through forested areas, and several locations with outstanding views of the Ohio River and Great Miami River valleys. The park also offers a playground and picnic spots, making it a great place to bring the kids.

Smale Riverfront Park

Address: 166 W Mehring Way, Cincinnati, OH 45202 (Downtown)

Smale Riverfront Park in Downtown Cincinnati is a magnificent, gorgeous park to visit, located right along the Ohio River. This is an excellent place for families to come because it has a playground section with climbing walls and slides. There’s also a lengthy, curving walking path with swinging benches where you can sit and take in the views of the river and bridges.

Stanbery Park

Address: 2221 Oxford Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45230 (Mt. Washington)

Stanberry Park, a 125-acre park in the Mt. Washington neighborhood, features a paved promenade and a vast network of hiking trails that run through forested regions, streams, and forests. This is a beautiful spot to go for a walk, have a picnic, or go birding.

Stanley Rowe Arboretum

Address: 4600 Muchmore Rd, Cincinnati, OH 45243 (Indian Hill)

Stanley Rowe Arboretum in Indian Hill is one of Cincinnati’s smallest yet most tranquil and hidden nature sites. The arboretum is only 9 acres, yet it houses a remarkable collection of plant species collected and curated worldwide. The arboretum has interconnecting walking routes, making it a great spot to take a relaxing stroll and explore some plant species and trees you’ve probably never seen or heard of before.

Tower Park

Address: 900 S Ft Thomas Ave, Fort Thomas, KY 41075 (Fort Thomas)

Thomas Park, located across the Ohio River in Fort Thomas, KY, is a popular neighborhood park with multiple walking and bike routes, playgrounds, tennis facilities, volleyball courts, basketball courts, and an amphitheater.

Winton Woods*

Address: 10245 Winton Rd, Cincinnati, OH 45231 (Winton Woods)

Winton Woods is one of Cincinnati’s largest natural areas. The park has an 18-hole disc golf course, basketball courts, a horse trail, 2.6 miles of paved trails, a 1.1-mile fitness trail, a 0.7-mile Great Oaks nature trail, a 1.1-mile Kingfisher nature trail, a massive lake with fishing, and several benches and shelters throughout the park that are ideal for picnics and group gatherings.

Withrow Nature Preserve*

Address: 7075 Five Mile Rd, Cincinnati, OH 45230 (Anderson)

Withrow Nature Preserve is a 270-acre park with a lovely 1.6-mile Trout Lily nature walk that runs through woods and forested regions and is well-maintained. There’s a beautiful picturesque river overlook about midway up the route with a couple of seats where you can sit, relax, and enjoy the scenery. If you want to take a short walk while taking in some serene nature, this is the place to go. Here’s where you can get a detailed guide to Withrow Nature Preserve.

Woodland Mound*

Address: 8250 Old Kellogg Rd, Cincinnati, OH 45255 (Cherry Grove)

Woodland Mound is a park along the Ohio River on the city’s eastern outskirts. Woodland Mound is a 1,066-acre park with outstanding views of the Ohio River from the Breezy Point Pavilion, one of the city’s top 18-hole disc golf courses, a Wetland Adventure playground and snack bar for families and kids, various picnic spots, and a variety of nature trails and asphalt pathways.