Blankets of soft white snow cover the ground while towering evergreens bend gently under the weight of a recent snowfall. Each year, this picturesque scene is played out across the state in Ohio’s state parks as they are transformed into a winter playground for everyone to enjoy. For guests in search of a location that will allow them to participate in winter activities, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) has a few suggestions.
Throughout the winter months, Ohio State Parks offer a number of winter hikes that showcase the beauty of winter in the Buckeye State. The Hocking Hills State Park winter hike annually draws thousands of hikers to Ohio’s most well-known park. However, all of our parks offer something for the winter explorer. Here are just a few favorites.
Maumee Bay: Located in the northwestern part of Ohio, Maumee Bay State Park offers a beautiful view of Lake Erie, as well as an assortment of winter activities. Just 30 minutes east of Toledo, visitors can rent skis at the lodge and then enjoy the quiet solitude of cross-country skiing on the park’s 6-mile path. They can also tackle the challenge of the sledding hill, which offers an exhilarating 70-foot high ride.
Punderson: Known as “Ohio’s premier winter sports park,” Punderson State Park is located in the northeastern part of the state. This state park features a newly renovated tow rope that pulls sleds, and riders, up to the top of a lighted hill for an effortless ride back down the hill. Two cross-country ski trails, three snowmobiling trails and a unique dog sledding trail all offer visitors hours of winter fun.
Mohican: Towering stands of hemlock and old-growth white pine stand in contrast against a winter-white landscape at Mohican State Park and the nearby Mohican-Memorial State Forest in northeast Ohio. The breathtaking scenery serves as a stunning backdrop for winter hiking and snowmobiling.
Malabar Farm: The picturesque Big House at Malabar Farm State Park offers rustic charm with holiday decorations twinkling merrily out of the mansion’s windows. The farm is located in northeast Ohio and showcases holiday programs, including December tours to see acclaimed author Louis Bromfield’s Big House all decorated for Christmas, as well as a cross-country trail that winds through the forested hills that make up this central Ohio park.
Alum Creek: Centrally located and only a 30-minute drive north of Columbus, Alum Creek State Park offers both cross-country skiing and snowmobiling trails. A “Fantasy of Lights” display provides a dazzling opportunity to participate in holiday cheer while driving through the park’s campgrounds.
Buck Creek: Located in southwestern Ohio, Buck Creek State Park offers a snowmobile trail for those seeking a winter thrill. While speeding along the snow paths, be sure to take in the unique hills, called moraines, which are deposits of glacial debris left in the area when the glaciers melted. Visitors can also enjoy sledding and cross-country skiing.
John Bryan: Known to some as the most scenic state park in western Ohio, John Bryan State Park features a limestone gorge cut by the Little Miami River. This area contains outstanding biological and geological diversity, and this state park has been designated at a national natural landmark. Visitors can enjoy cross-country skiing, sledding and birdwatching.
Lake Hope: Every winter, more than 100,000 lights illuminate Lake Hope State Park during the Holiday Trail of Lights, which takes place every night in December. Featuring landscape lighting, tree decorations and more, visitors are sure to enjoy this brilliant show. Lake Hope also offers winter recreation, including sledding and cross-country skiing.
Salt Fork: Ohio’s largest state park offers a diverse winter landscape for visitors to enjoy. From forests and meadows to valleys and streams, this state park located in southeastern Ohio has it all. With one of the longest snowmobiling trails in the state park system, Salt Fork State Park is a haven for winter thrill seekers. Sledding, cross-country skiing and winter hiking is also available.
Don’t forget to share your winter adventures with ODNR through social media using hashtags like #ExploreOhio, #HikeOhio #SkiOhio and others. ODNR recently launched the Explore Ohio initiative, a fitness challenge for Ohioans to track their miles utilizing ExploreOh.com. Earn rewards through Ohio State Parks while experiencing the beauty of the state’s natural wonders.