Middle Creek Park
Middle Creek Park

There's nothing quite like some good old-fashioned, free, family fun.  We enjoy taking the kids to check out new places and hiking is one of those activities that we can all do together.  And bonus – it's almost always free.  (Some places have a small admittance or parking fees, so be sure to check the websites before you head out. It's also a great idea to check the websites before you go, because some places close unexpectedly due to trail and weather conditions.)

These are our some of our favorite spots to hike.  So, grab some GORP and get out there to enjoy the outdoors.  And these places are just as breathtaking in the winter, you just have to wear a lot more clothes.  (And, yes, GORP is a real thing.  My husband didn't believe me.  Good Old Raisins and Peanuts.  Look it up!) 

Big Bone Lick State Park
Big Bone Lick State Park

The very first three spots on my list are super close to each other and you can do them all in one day if you're feeling adventurous. They're all beautiful and amazing for different reasons.  So, pack a lunch and some water, lace up your hiking boots and come across the river to lovely Burlington, Ky.!  You won't be sorry, y'all!
 

Boone Cliffs

Boone Cliffs is 74 acres of old-growth forest and unique 20- to 40-foot cliff formations. It's a really fun hike with great views, overlooks and geological discoveries.  The cliffs were created when the glaciers advanced in this area at the same time that the warmer air melted them. Natural springs carved a path creating the incredible geology.  Farther into the hike is the overlook which has a fantastic view of the valley below.  Unpaved trails are rated moderate to difficult available for hiking. 4990 Middle Creek Road, Burlington, KY 41005 

Middle Creek Park
Middle Creek Park

Middle Creek Park

Middle Creek Park opened in 1993 and is 230 acres of pristine forest with wildflowers, wildlife and unpaved moderate trails available for hiking and horseback riding.  We love this hike because it's easy and the kids enjoy it.  We see deer every time we hike here.  Crossing the creek and following the trail up to the top is a fun walk and you'll find the ruins of an old house.  During hunting season please use caution as private land surrounds the park. 5501 Middle Creek Road, Burlington, KY 41005
 

Dinsmore Woods

Dinsmore Woods is 107 acres of unaltered old-growth, large canopy forest located next to the historic Dinsmore Homestead.  The Dinsmore is a gorgeous old homestead that gives you a glimpse into daily life in the early 1800s.  Plan extra time if you would like to explore the homestead, outbuildings, cabin and cemetery.  There is an unpaved moderate to difficult trail through wildflowers and wildlife. 5700 Burlington Pike, Burlington, KY 41005
 

Gunpowder Creek Nature Park

Gunpowder Creek Nature Park has 122 wooded acres.  It features an unpaved upgraded 1800’s logging trail that travels from an elevation of 830 feet to 620 feet and ends near Gunpowder Creek at a stone seating area.  The park also has a stand of mature oaks on the northern hillside that is one of the best remaining undisturbed areas of woodland in the region. 6750 Sperti Lane, Burlington, KY 41005
 

Fort Thomas Landmark Tree Trail

Fort Thomas Landmark Tree Trail is only 1.1 miles long but moderately difficult because of some steep hills.  It's a gorgeous hike to take because of the "Ft. Thomas Landmark Trees" you'll pass that are well over 100 years old.  These are some spectacular and enormous old-growth trees!  This quiet hike weaves through the ridges and valleys of Northern Kentucky while improving your tree identification skills.  Print off the pamphlet before you go. The kids love it.  A branch of the trail leads to a long rock wall constructed when the property was part of a military fort. Next to Carmel Manor Nursing Home, 100 Carmel Manor Drive, Ft. Thomas, KY 41075

Big Bone Lick State Park
Big Bone Lick State Park

Big Bone Lick State Park

Big Bone Lick State Park was once home to mastodons, giant sloths, mammoths and bison.  Visiting Big Bone Lick is like taking a trip back in time.  They have an indoor and outdoor museum, a nature center, great trails and an actual herd of real buffalo.  The area is rich in minerals and salts and provides vital nutrients to the buffalo.  It was known as the land of big bones due to the skeletal remains of mammoths, mastodons and giant sloths that visited here for the salt and mineral springs.  So, it's a funny name and it doesn't mean what you think it means.  We like to keep you guessing here in Kentucky! 3380 Beaver Road, Union, KY 41091

Bison at Big Bone Lick State Park
Big Bone Lick State Park

Let's head across the river to some of our favorite spots to hike in Ohio!  There are so many, but I'll list four.

Cincinnati Nature Center
Cincinnati Nature Center

Cincinnati Nature Center, Rowe Woods

Cincinnati Nature Center, Rowe Woods is one of the top ten nature centers in the country!  Rowe woods features award-winning trails that wind through Eastern deciduous forest, fields, streams and ponds. They offer Trail Passports and you get a stamp for each trail you complete, earning prizes and incentives along the way.  The kids love this part.  You can also check out heart monitors and track your progress.  They also have a really neat Nature PlayScape designed for open-ended creative play.  Plants, soil and water can be touched and manipulated, not just observed, to stimulate the senses and promote a sense of wonder.  The kids obviously love this part!  We even became members to save some cash.  Love this place. 4949 Tealtown Road, Milford, OH 45150

Cincinnati Nature Center
Cincinnati Nature Center

East Fork State Park

East Fork State Park is one of Ohio's largest state parks.  It's 4,870 acres of great diversity and recreational opportunities.  The park includes both rugged hills and open meadows.  We love hiking there, but they also offer a variety of activities including, fishing, boating, camping, picnicking, mountain biking, kayaking, horseback riding and swimming!   The East Fork region is also rich in Native American history dating back 3,000 years.  It's a great local adventure and the perfect getaway. 3294 Elklick Road, Bethel, Ohio 45106
 

Mt. Airy Forest

Mt. Airy Forest is 1,459 acres of hiking and bridle trails.  It's Cincinnati's largest park and the lush wooded ridges and valleys make it hard to believe that downtown is only a few minutes away.  Mt. Airy has Ohio's only wheelchair accessible public tree house, an enclosed dog park and disc golf, too.  Mt. Airy Arboretum's specialty gardens, gazebos and lake are just gorgeous.  They also have forest lodges, picnic areas and playgrounds.  It's a great place to spend a few hours hiking and exploring. 5083 Colerain Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio 45223
 

Miami Whitewater Forest

Miami Whitewater Forest hiking began in 1949 and has a sprawling 4,345 acres that include Shaker Trace Wetlands with a wildlife viewing shelter on the trail. The Shaker Trace Trail has a 1.2 mile inner loop with 18 fully accessible Parcours fitness stations to liven things up.  It also has an extended 7.8 mile outer loop which weaves through the gorgeous park.  Both loops begin and end at the harbor.  The entire trail is paved and gently graded.  You'll get to see restored wetlands, prairie, creek beds and farmland on your hike. 9001 Mount Hope Road, Crosby Township, OH 45030

Middle Creek Park
Middle Creek Park

Middle Creek Park
Middle Creek Park