Hike Clifton Gorge
Ohio › Clifton Gorge State Nature Preserve Parking Lot
Added by Dan Barr
10,000 years ago ice sheets descended on Ohio, but thanks to Campbell Hill (Ohio's High Point), the glaciers forced to split into two lobes. The resulting valley in between became a massive channel for glacial meltwater, funneling the water south to carve one of Ohio's most majestic geologic features: Clifton Gorge.
The entirety of this hike is within the Clifton Gorge State Nature Preserve, a protected park with strict restrictions on off-trail travel with pets prohibited.
Starting at the parking lot off of Jackson St, follow the trail northwest allow the narrows of Clifton Gorge. Here, the river has carved a deep chasm into the limestone bedrock, with the river being anywhere from 40-60 feet below the top, and the gorge being anywhere from 20-40 feet wide. Legend has it a member of Daniel Boone's party was trapped by Native Americans along the Narrows (as they're known) and he escaped them by leaping across the chasm to safety.
The trail follows the trim for 0.5 mile until it reaches the Bear Den Interpretive Center, a nature center operated by ODNR within the preserve. From here, follow the trail down into the gorge, which has significantly widened since the Narrows. The trail here snakes between the Little Miami River on your left and limestone cliffs on the right.
The river has several sections of cascades and rapids along the trail, and a few other named features are noted with trailside signs, such as Steamboat Rock (a large slump block that fell into the river long ago) and the Blue Hole, a massive ponded area of the Little Miami River that has a slightly bluish tint to it.
Eventually the trail will take you to the intersection with the trails of neighboring John Bryan State Park. From here, retrace your steps back to the parking lot and view all that Clifton Gorge has to offer from a different perspective!
- Hiking Boots
- Water (1-2 liters)
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