Posted in Hiking

Ohio’s Scenic Overlooks

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.

View from the Jacob’s Ladder Trail at Christmas Rocks State Nature Preserve

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.

Scenic Overlooks
Fire Towers

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.

Fire-tower at Mohican State Park
Fire-tower at Mohican State Park
View from Mohican fire-tower
View from Mohican fire-tower

We’ve visited several fire-towers:

View from Scioto Trail's fire-tower
View from Scioto Trail’s fire-tower

“I can see for miles and miles and miles and miles and miles”

The Who (“Tommy”)

Additional information

Fall Color in Ohio

© Deborah Platt, Robert Platt and 2012 to 2021

14 thoughts on “Ohio’s Scenic Overlooks

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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!.

      1. 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.

        1. 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:

    1. 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.

  5. 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.

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