Best Fall Hikes in Athens County

Fresh air and fall leaves abound on the trails of Athens County.

Fresh air and fall leaves abound on the trails of Athens County.

The days are getting cooler and shorter, which means it’s time to make the most of fall’s beauty. Athens County is the perfect spot to hit the trails and take in autumn’s crisp air and stunning colors. Breathe deeply as you hike along the trails of Athens and discover why USA Today considers Athens County one of the best places for fall foliage in the country.

Wildcat Hollow Trail at the Wayne National Forest. Part of Ohio’s only national forest, the Wildcat Hollow Trail is great option for hikers who want to either spend all day on the trails or add some camping. The trail totals about 15 miles, but there’s a 5-mile loop that’s perfect for day hikers. Hikers will trek through diverse terrain includes open meadows, rock outcroppings, gentle streams and pine forests.

The Ridges Trail at The Ridges. The Ridges Trail is a part of a small system of trails on the grounds of the former Athens Lunatic Asylum, now known as The Ridges. The Y-shaped Ridges Trail has one branch that will take you to one of Athens’ most popular sites: Radar Hill, the highest point in Athens and former site of a World War II-era radar defense station. At the top of the hill, follow the River Valley Nature Trail path for a stunning view of Athens.

Athens Trail to Finger Rock Trail to Trace Trail at Sells Park and Stroud’s Run State Park. Sells Park has long been a favorite of Athens residents. It’s easy to see why: tucked quietly in the hills with more than 21 miles of trails for hiking or mountain biking, it’s the perfect spot for an afternoon outdoor adventure. Pick up the trailhead for the Athens Trail at the end of Avon Place. The trail runs through Riddle State Nature Preserve and Strouds Run State Park, where you’ll pick up the Finger Rock Trail. Take the Trace Trail back to the Athens Trail to complete the loop.

Hickory Trail at Stroud’s Run State Park. For an easy hike, head to Strouds Run and explore the Hickory Trail. Park just off of Route 50 at the Dow Lake Dam, cross the dam and enter the Hickory Trail. You then have a 2.8-mile flat double-track trail until you reach the other side of the lake. At the Trace Trail, check out the old Pioneer Cemetery before making your way back to the parking lot. The Hickory Trail is also a great trail for a run.

Oak Ridge Trail at Desonier State Nature Preserve. The Oak Ridge Trail is Desonier’s main trail. The trail is about two miles long. This is an ideal destination for a weekend drive. Though small, the preserve landscape is varied with ponds, valleys, streams and ridges.

What Athens County Trails are you hitting this fall? Share your photos, tag them with #AthensOhio, and we may feature you on our social media!