How to Hike Cincinnati Nature Center Perimeter Trail
Cincinnati Nature Center is one of my favorite go-to hiking spots. In my book 60 Hikes within 60 Miles Cincinnati, I included the perimeter trail. Since that edition came out there have been a few modifications (reroutes) to the trails there but nothing that you can’t handle Happy Hikers.
With the new trail routes, the perimeter trail is listed as 10.12 miles but I think with the reroutes it might be closer to 10.6 miles. I’ve not yet had an opportunity to map the reroutes. All the trails are loop trails which means you return to close the where you started – given that you can recall the color scheme you were following.
Cincinnati Nature Center Map
Speaking of color schemes and trails let’s dive into a breakdown on the trails:
Edge Trail: Easy with some hills. The big bonus is the pond. I could spend all day just watching the turtles.
Upland trail: Easy BUT a good portion is in full sun next to a meadow. On a hot summer day, you’re going to feel like you’ve been autoclaved.
Mashburn Family Trail: All accessible trail. Great with kids. However, if you are planning on getting some miles in, avoid the amazing nature playground – you’ll spend all your time there playing like you are six again.
Geology Trail: I really like this trail. The steps get a little old if you have crinkly knees (for those of you who don’t have crinkly knees – bless your hearts.)
Wildflower Trail: If you do the perimeter, you will only do a small portion of this trail and it is along the edge of the woods and a meadow – very pretty.
Lookout Trail: The prairie is lovely unless it is hot out. Open fields can be exceedingly ridiculously hot and humid add in full sun and – yeah, you’re not going to be a Happy Hiker. You’re going to be a Hot Hiker and not in a good way. If you go early or in the fall, winter, or early spring this trail is a treat.
Fernwood Trail: You’ll think, “This trail isn’t so bad, I don’t know what Tammy was talking about.” Then, “OMGosh! Is that another <strong><expletive string> switch back </strong></expletive string) [Bawhaha – I’m cracking myself up – HTML geeks will totally get that. Non-geeks – it’s okay – I was swearing in bold.]
Far Ridge Trail: You’ll be wondering why you decided to hike this trail. Then, you’ll think, “This is better than the Stairmaster at the gym! My butt is going to look great if I can just ma-ket-up-th-is-hill.” You’ll get to the top and think, “I’ma just gonna chill here and enjoy the view.” That’s when you realize the rule of hills – there is always another one.
Red Wing Trail: You won’t notice the few hills because you’ll be too distracted by the stunning beauty of the woods. Hint” This is my favorite trail.
Save a tree! Download the Cincinnati Nature Center map pdf onto your phone.
Cincinnati Perimeter Trail Route
I prefer to do Edge, Whitetail Trace, Red Wing, Geology, Far Ridge, Wildflower, Fern, Upland, Lookout.
But there is no rule book or trail police directing traffic. You can start wherever you want – that’s the great thing about being an adult.
The other great thing about being an adult?
You can quit when you want to as well! If the hike gets to be too much, take a break and hydrate. If you feel like that’s it, stick a fork in me, it is totally okay to mosey back to your car. No one will judge you, so don’t go all judgey on yourself.
But, do come back and hike again.
Preparing for a Long Hike
I recommend doing the Far Ridge trail or the Fern Trail a few times to build up your stamina. If you are really new to hiking, then do the Geology Trail and come up the limestone steps to the Krippendorf Lodge. If you can do that a few times and not be bent over gasping for air or clutching a Charlie-horse – then you should be able to manage a longer hike.
Of course, pack plenty of water and some energy snacks.
The Longer the Hike, The Longer the Hike Takes
Take your time! I see so many hikers who are all frazzled and Grumpy-Cat looking. Sure, they are hiking but they’re not taking the journey they are racing to get from Point A to Point B and missing all the beauty and wonder in between.
I’m going to tell you a secret. Most people prior to hiking with me the first-time worry, “You’ll hike to fast for me to keep up.”
HA HA HA
I’m the world’s slowest hiker! Snails in snow pass me. I take my time and enjoy the hike. Watch the birds, peer at the leaves, scan the bark of trees for insects – I make it a point to take it all in and try to memorize the beauty of the day because I know one day I won’t physically be able to hike but I’ll be able to take that sense of peace and wonder with me forever.
Give yourself the gift of enough time to enjoy your hike. Take along a journal, snap some photos, just sit and think big rambling thoughts – breathe and relax you’re a Hiking Ninja now.