Sometimes, you want to get out and about but you don’t necessarily want to face the crowds you might encounter on a weekend at a popular park or well-known attraction—and that’s perfectly OK. The following are 10 perfect, peaceful places in Ohio for people who hate crowds.
1. Mineral Springs Lake (Peebles)
Tucked away in Adams County, you’ll find the hidden gem of Mineral Springs Lake, a picturesque lake fed by natural spring water that’s loaded with nature’s healthy minerals. The lake covers more than 100 aces with five and a half miles of peaceful shoreline. It is surrounded by approximately 500 acres of serene nature. Mineral Springs Lake is located at 160 Bluegill Rd., Peebles, OH 45660.
2. Chapel Cave (Hocking State Forest)
Many people are familiar with popular caves in Ohio such as Old Man’s Cave and the Rock House―but few people know about “Chapel Cave” (also known as “21 Horses Cave”) hiding in the Hocking Hills. It’s a hidden gem in the Hocking State Forest that you won’t find on any park or nature preserve maps, but you can find the trailhead less than five minutes away from the Conkle’s Hollow State Nature Preserve entrance in Rockbridge, Ohio.
3. Peaceful Acres Lavender Farm (Martinsville)
Tucked away in a small town in southwest Ohio, you’ll find this peaceful oasis. It’s a great destination for a unique day trip in the late spring and mid-summer months. During late spring, summer and fall, u-pick is available for visitors for a small fee. It’s a lovely, refreshing way to spend the day. Peaceful Acres Lavender Farm is located at 2387 Martinsville Rd., Martinsville, OH 45146.
4. Mount Jeez (Monroe Township)
Within the Mohican Hills in Monroe Township, you’ll find one of Ohio’s most stunning summits. At 1,310 ft. tall, Mount Jeez offers a wide open, beautiful view of Ohio’s countryside. (You can find the path for Mount Jeez Overlook off of Pleasant Valley Road.)
5. Highlands Nature Sanctuary (Bainbridge)
Once a sacred spot to the Shawnee and Iroquois tribes, this 2,200-acre tract in Ross County is one of only a few privately owned state nature preserves in Ohio. You can find it at 7660 Cave Rd, Bainbridge, OH 45612.
6. The Golden Bear Lodge (West Salem)
The Golden Bear Lodge in West Salem, Ohio is quietly tucked away in a 65-acre forest. It’s a truly spectacular lodge that can sleep up to 20 people. Outside, you’ll find multiple hiking trails to explore and a large pond stocked with fish. It is located at County Road 175 West Salem, OH 44287.
7. Glen Helen Nature Preserve (Yellow Springs)
You’ll find the small town of Yellow Springs’ official “Yellow Spring” (which actually looks more orange than yellow) at the Glen Helen Nature Preserve. The nature preserve covers 1,000 acres and features a 25-mile network of footpaths that allows visitors to observe 400-year-old trees, limestone cliffs with waterfalls and overhangs and more. It is located at 405 Corry St., Yellow Springs, OH 45387.
8. Edge of Appalachia Nature Preserve (West Union)
The Edge of Appalachia Preserve in Adams County is best known for its biological diversity, steep cliffs and the Wilderness Trail; a 2 1/2-mile loop that’s perfect for a one-day hike. It’s located at 4274 Waggoner Riffle Rd., West Union, OH 45693.
9. Wayne National Forest (various locations)
Encompassing more than a quarter million acres of Appalachian foothills, this national forest stretches across 12 counties in southeast Ohio. (Many acres are under private ownership.) At Wayne National Forest, you can explore the diverse landscape, plants, wildlife, rivers, lakes and hiking trails. Fishing, primitive camping and geocaching are popular activities here.
10. Nelson Kennedy Ledges State Park (Garrettsville)
While most people are familiar with the beauty of Ohio’s beloved Old Man’s Cave hiking trails and the Hocking Hills State Park, less people are aware of the similar breathtaking, adventurous nature hike you will experience at Nelson Kennedy Ledges State Park. Portage County is home to this 160-acre park, which features rugged cliffs, hidden waterfalls, unique hiking trails and diverse plant life. You’ll find it at 12440 OH-282, Garrettsville, OH 44231.