Have you enjoyed the thrill of standing in a high place surveying the landscape far below? It’s a bit of a challenge to find such places in a natural setting in Ohio, but not impossible. Below is a list of scenic overlooks or vistas that Deb and I have enjoyed along with links to their location and some notes.
Its not possible to simply look at a topographic map and find good scenic overlooks. As Ohio doesn’t have mountains, a hilltop may potentially offer a vista but be so heavily forested as to preclude a good view. Even on trails labelled ‘Vista Trail‘, the former view may now be obscured by the subsequent growth of large trees. Hasta la vista, vista.
I’ve tried to list (mostly) natural sites offering a nice unobstructed view. Some are easily accessible by car, others require a hike of several miles, and may involve a steep climb. The list is not all encompassing, I’ve no doubt left some off. If you know of a great vista in a park that I’ve omitted, please let us know in the comments below.
- Ariel-Foundation Park (Knox County) – centerpiece of park is former industrial smokestack that now supports a 140 foot observation platform overlooking Mt. Vernon
- Big Rock (Pike County) – privately owned land with rental cabins and a private park
- Cascade Valley South Metro Park (Summit County) – a hike to the overlook provides a view of an oxbow in the Cuyahoga River below.
- Caesar Creek State Park (Warren County) – adjacent to parking at Flat Fork Recreation Area is an observation deck with a view of the lake
- Chapin Forest Scenic Overlook (Lake County) – scenic overlook on the Ledges Trail in Chapin Forest Reservation (review coming soon)
- Christmas Rocks (Fairfield County) – – a mile hike and a climb will take you to the top of Jacob’s Ladder and a great view
- Conkle’s Hollow: Rim Trail (Hocking County) – 2.5 mile loop trail around the rim of a box canyon in the Hocking Hills
- Chestnut Ridge Metro Park (Fairfield County) – – on a clear winter day you can see downtown Columbus from the observation deck on the trail
- Dawes Arboretum (Licking County) – hill-top observation deck provides a view of a lake and hedges spelling out the arboretum’s name
- Edge of Appalachia: Buzzardroost Rock Trail (Adams) – A two mile hike takes you to a cliff edge overlooking Brush Creek Valley below
- Edge of Appalachia: Joan Jones Portman Trail (Adams County) – a 1.6 mile hike takes you up 300 ft to Flood’s Point and a view of Brush Creek valley
- High Banks Metro Park (Delaware County) – hike to the overlook for a view of the Olentangy River and beyond. You might even see an eagle.
- Hocking State Forest: Airplane Rock (Hocking County) – a mile hike (or horseback ride) leads to a cliff edge overlooking Crane Hollow
- Holden Arboretum: Kalberer Emergent Tower (Lake County) – Holden Arboretum offers a canopy walk through the tree-tops and a tower with stairs leading to an observation area above the tree-tops. An entry fee is required for both the canopy walk and the tower.
- Lake Hope State Park: Dining Lodge (Vinton County) – Dinner and a vista! See a great view of Lake Hope from the hill-top dining lodge
- Ledges Overlook (Summit County) – a short walk from the parking lot at The Ledges in Cuyahoga Valley National Park
- Lookout Rock (Vinton County) – overlook in Zaleski State Forest near Moonville Tunnel
- Malabar Farm: Mount Jeez (Ashland County) – drive up to the top of the hill across from Malabar farm for a panoramic view of the area
- Mohican State Park: Overlook (Richland County) – drive to the overlook, observation decks on either end of the parking lot overlook Clear Fork Gorge. Note: lots of conifers – very scenic but not much fall color
- Mohican State Park: Pleasant Hill Dam (Richland County) – park at Pleasant Hill Dam and view the beginning of Clear Fork Gorge
- Monroe Overlook (Perry County) – overlook short drive from Wildcat Hollow trail-head in Wayne National Forest
- Raven Rock (Scioto County) – overlook perched 550 feet above Ohio River (permit only preserve)
- Rising Park: Mount Pleasant (Fairfield County) – a hike to the top of Mount Pleasant in Rising Park yields a panoramic view of the city of Lancaster below
- Ridges Trail: Radar Hill (Athens County) – hike out to Radar Hill on Ridges Trail for a view of Athens and it’s surroundings
- Scioto Trails State Park: Vista (Ross County)
– offers a great view of the distant hills (adjacent parking)
- Shawnee Day Hike Loop (Scioto County) – overlook (with bench) on new section of blue day hike trail
- Vermilion River Scenic Overlook at OH-2 Rest Area – At this highway rest area, a paved trail leads to the edge of a cliff overlooking the Vermilion River
- Wolf Run (Knox County) – hike to a hill-top observation deck with a view
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources used to use hill-top firetowers around the state to watch for wildfires. The advent of aircraft and high speed telecommunications made these towers obsolete. Although most were torn down, those that remain offer a nice view of the surrounding terrain. The structure on the top of the tower is locked, but you can still climb the stairs to just below this structure to get a great view.
We’ve visited several fire-towers:
- Hocking Hills State Park (Hocking County) – located at the intersection of OH-374 and Chapel Ridge Road on the trail between Cedar Falls and Ash Cave.
- Mohican State Park (Richland County) – on the road towards the Clear Fork Overlook
- Scioto Trail State Park (Ross County) – about a mile past the park entrance
- Tar Hollow (Ross County) – located at the backpacking camp. Parking for several trail-heads.
“I can see for miles and miles and miles and miles and miles”
— The Who (“Tommy”)
- Ohio DNR: Ohio Fire Tower Facts
- TrekOhio: Where and when to see fall color in Ohio
Fall Color in Ohio
14 thoughts on “Ohio’s Scenic Overlooks”
The view from the Rankin House on a bluff overlooking Ripley, OH and the Ohio River Is beautiful. On a clear day you can see seven bends of the river from this vantage point and ponder what it would have been like to be a fleeing slave or a person waiting the arrival of one.
The Dover Dam might seem a little goofy choice for this topic, but it has an epic stair climb and a great view over the dam and river.
The view from the steps up Fort Hill in the Rocky River Reservation in North Olmsted is impressive.
Chestnut Ridge mountain bike trail also has an overlook that looks towards Columbus (all I see from it is farmland, but it’s still a pretty view in the fall). It’s at the top where the Apple Barn is – can’t miss it. BUT I think the trail is exclusively for mountain bikers (would be a bad idea to hike there anyway – some very fast downhills with blind corners – I bet I hit 30 mph going downhill there today). Mountain bikers should check it out. The view, and the downhill ride after, is worth the nasty climb up the hill.
On Facebook, Trish Caldwell Landsittel suggested adding the following scenic overllok: Keedash Point in Monroe County which overlooks Ohio Valley / Ohio River.
Wow. You sure know the right time of year to take pictures from the tops of fire towers!
There is also a fire tower at Zaleski State Forest. It’s not near the backpacking trail (or other trails), but is over near the huntsmen area. It has a nice view, though. When they were rebuilding the lodge for Lake Hope State Park I managed to spot it from there.
At Zaleski there is also the Rew Overlook along the Zaleski Backpacking Trail (after climbing out of Bear Hollow and overlooking where the railroad used to go). See Moon River.
And there is also Lookout Rock, in the horse trails area. See Lookout! Rock!.
Is the tower still there? I had thought the Zaleski tower was demolished.
Um. I forget when I was up there. 2012? 2013? 2014? (And I have too many pictures to be able to easily find the picture I took from up there so I could date it.)
However, this picture in the Vinton County Courier shows it was still there in February of 2014.
Ah, I was there in February, 2012, when I did the Moon River blog entry. Let’s see if I can insert here the picture I took of the Lake Hope Lodge being built:
One more attempt.
The tower still stands atop Atkinson ridge.
Thanks for mentioning the overlook on the Zaleski backpacking trail! That’s my personal favorite Ohio overlook, even though I fell off that cliff once! Somehow I managed to not be seriously injured after that fall of 60 feet (I went back and measured it later). I was cut and bruised but walked away from it.
Raven Rock, in Shawnee State Forest near Portsmouth, is a steep ascent and requires a permit from the state, but it’s a great view overlooking the Ohio River and surrounding hills.
On our ‘ToDo’ list. There’s several permit-only preserves I’d like to see.