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This trail is probably right in your backyard. Located along the Hocking River, this path is the closest for OU students (Photo provided by @adenabikepark via Instagram). 

Get some fresh air at these hiking trails in the Athens area

One of the best things about living in Athens is the easy access to tons of nature and hiking trails. There are plenty of parks less than 20 minutes away where you can have fun and get some fresh air.

The fall season is one of the best times of the year to go hiking. With the leaves changing and the comfortable weather, it’s a great way to enjoy yourself on a nice day.

Athens has so much more to offer than just Court Street. Take advantage of living in Appalachia during your four years here and see all of the beauty it has to offer at these trails:

Hockhocking Adena Bikeway

This trail is probably right in your backyard. Located along the Hocking River, this path is the closest for OU students.

While it’s more of a path than a trail, this 21-mile path is perfect for when you just want a casual stroll along the river. 

Even though the 21 miles sounds intimidating, you can walk, run or bike as little or as much as you want. 

The path has different access points, but the easiest for OU students is by taking Richland Avenue and starting the path under the bridge or by the River Gate Apartments off South Green Dr.

The Ridges Trails

The trails at The Ridges are for those more dedicated to hiking. If you go up and down Jeff Hill every day, you will definitely be okay. 

This is another trail basically in OU’s backyard, just a five-minute drive away. If you don’t have a car on campus, you can also take Athens Public Transit, which is free for OU students.

While this trail is still perfect for beginners, you get the real hiking experience as you go through the woods.

There are three separate loops you can take, but if you’re looking for a longer day hike, you can go around them in one big loop.

If you’re looking to spend a couple hours of your day on a hike, the big loop is just over three miles long. 

There are plenty of signs along the trail to help guide you so it would be really hard to get lost.

The trail takes you to different locations like Radar Hill, which is the highest point in Athens, and even along the old Ridges cemetery. 

Another trail close by is the Ora Anderson Trail, which is another great trail for beginners. It is just over a mile and is located behind the Dairy Barn Arts Center.

Each of the separate loops has different places to park, but if you are looking to do the whole loop trail, a good place to park is by the Dairy Barn.

Strouds Run State Park

When it gets too chilly to sunbathe or rent boats at Strouds, a hike is the next best option to enjoy this beautiful park.

This is another place that is so close to campus, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t check it out at some point.

This park features plenty of trails that can either be done separately or joined together into bigger trails. Some of these trails can take you along the lake or into the woods.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources is a great website to check out all of the trails and to plan your day at Strouds.

Sells Park

Just a 15-minute drive away from campus, there are plenty of trails available at Sells Park. 

This park features the Athens Trail Loop which is full of many different rock formations to view as you hike along the trails. 

This park is also very close to Strouds if you are looking to go to different hiking locations in one day.

Wayne National Forest

This forest is home to the Baileys Trail System. This trail system is made primarily for mountain biking, but it is also welcome to hikers. 

If you are hiking on this trail, keep in mind that it needs to be shared with those biking as well. Be aware of your surroundings to keep you and others using the trail safe.

Just another 15-minute drive away from campus, this forest has a great variety of trails to explore with sights such as piles of “gob” from coal mining. 

The trail system has the perfect trail for you, whether you’re a beginner hiker or an expert. The website linked above will help you discover the right one for you.

Hocking Hills State Park

Although Hocking Hills isn’t exactly down the road, the 45-minute drive is worth your while. 

If you are looking for a day trip, look into making the drive to Hocking Hills. This park has some of the best hiking in the area.

The park has many trails available for all different skill levels. 

One of the most famous is Old Man’s Cave, where you will be surrounded by beautiful rock formations and gorges. There is also Cedar Falls, which is one of the most photographed waterfalls in Ohio.

To plan your trip, you can visit the Hocking Hills website here.

If you do go hiking this fall, here are a couple of tips:

Download a hiking app like AllTrails

Not all trails are perfectly mapped out and sometimes it can be hard to figure out where you’re going. Hiking apps like AllTrails are good ways to seek out trails and to make sure you’re still on the right track. These apps might also give you tips or other information about the trail from previous hikers. Sometimes these apps can drain your phone battery, so bring a portable charger as well. 

Bring a backpack

If you are doing a longer hike, you’re going to need something to pack your stuff in. A backpack is easiest because it allows your hands to be free and it has plenty of space inside. At some point, you might even forget that it’s on. 

Stay hydrated

This is something that is important all of the time, but especially during physical activity. Do your body a favor and pack a water bottle, or maybe even two. Keep it in the side pocket of your backpack so you have easy access to it. Nothing is worse than being thirsty on a hike.

Bring some snacks

Your body needs fuel on a hike. Bringing some snacks that are high in protein will help you power through. Some good hiking snacks are granola bars, beef jerky and classic trail mix. Just make sure to throw away your garbage instead of ditching your trash in the woods.

Layer up

Fall weather can be a bit unpredictable, especially when you’re in Ohio. One minute you may be freezing, and the next you may be sweating. The best way to be prepared for this is to layer your clothing. You can always shed layers when you need to and store them in your backpack. 

Bring tissues

If it’s more chilly out, your nose might start to run as you’re hiking. Save yourself from the sniffles and bring some tissues with you just in case.

Be careful on the leaves

Since it’s fall and many of the leaves are on the ground, it’s nearly impossible to have trails be fully clear. While the trail paths are still obvious to follow, the leaves can be a hazard, especially if they are wet. The leaves can be slippery and it makes it harder to have good traction, so be extra cautious when going up or down a hill. 


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