Clear Creek Metro Park is part of the Columbus / Franklin Metro Park system, but is located an hours drive from Columbus in the Hocking Hills region.
The entrance to the park is off of route 33. You’ll pass a cliff, a large slump block, and a log cabin and reach a parking area in a valley containing the Clear Creek that gave its name to the park. Numerous hiking trails are available in the combined 5,260 acre metro park and the adjacent 4,729 Clear Creek State Nature Preserve. Amenities include parking, picnic areas, and rest facilities. A visit to Clear Creek can be combined with the nearby Cantwell Cliffs or Wahkeena Nature Preserve.
Fishing is permitted in Clear Creek at select access points with a valid Ohio fishing permit.
When we were there this past weekend, we started with the Cemetery Ridge Trail. This trail begins as a dirt path with a steep ascent to the ridgeline of the hills here. Once you reach the ridgeline the trail turns into something of a gravel road that probably facilitates maintenance vehicles. I’m not a big fan of this sort of trail since there’s less shade, and the gravel becomes a bit tiresome to walk on. However as compensation for this, you at least get to take a look at an interesting relic.
On the top of the ridgeline there is an old barn that was built in 1837. It was built in the “Pennsylvania-style” of the era from hand-hewn posts and beams. There is now a modern, metal roof on the barn to keep the interior dry, but it’s kind of fun poking around the interior. Since this whole area is now forest, it’s also interesting to think back to when the ridgeline must have been cleared of trees to so the fields could be farmed and the animals pastured.
Once you have traversed the ridgeline on the Cemetery Ridge Trail, you start to descend and the path turns to dirt. You pass through some a deciduous forest with quite a bit of undergrowth.
At some point we turned off the Cemetery Ridge Trail, and walked the 1.5 mile Hemlock Trail. This is my favorite trail in the park. There typically isn’t much undergrowth in a hemlock forest, and without undergrowth there also seem to be very few bugs. It also seems much cooler because of the deep shade.
As the trail continued descending, we started seeing a number of rocky outcroppings like the one at the top of this post. We also started seeing quite a few ferns.
Besides seeing a number of the flowers that appeared in April Wildflower Extravaganza, we also spotted many butterflies, a mysterious fungus, and a raptor feather.
We combined trails to hike six miles in total, but it’s easy to hike fewer or more miles. The trails vary in difficulty so you really can customize your outing here.
- TrekOhio: Overview of Hiking Trails in the Hocking Hills
- TrekOhio: Hocking County Parks and Preserves
- TrekOhio: An Overview of Hiking Trails in Fairfield County
- TrekOhio: Fairfield County Parks and Preserves
- Address: 185 Clear Creek Road, Rockbridge, Ohio 43149
- GPS Coordinates: 39.5943057,-82.5889854
- Google Maps: View on map or get directions
More on the Hocking Hills