Yellow Springs, Ohio

Hike Clifton Gorge

2.6 Miles Total - 200 ft gain - Out-and-Back Trail

Originally 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! 

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Tags

Hiking
Bathrooms
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
River
Scenic

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Beautiful Hike Year Round

This hike has been a family favorite my whole life and maintains it's beauty all year long! You can take the Upper or Low Rim trail and either have the big picture view looking down on the gorge or be right along the water! Among Ohio's fields and long rolling hills, the steep rock cliffs and rushing river are a welcome and unique change. A scenic hike great for senior photos, studying local plants and bugs, and taking a short escape from the surrounding towns and cornfields!

Best Hike in the Area

In the midst of flat cornfields and small towns, this park is a beacon to those seeking some adventure. Can be super packed, but it's enjoyable nonetheless. I missed having any sort of hike with elevation change when I moved to the area, and this place saved me in the worst of it. There are some great photo opportunities of small stream cascades and overhanging cliffsides. I highly recommend hiking on the trail along the water!

Great Hike

This is a great hike, with some great scenery. It is hard to capture the beauty of the narrow gorge with a camera, so it is one of those things you need to see with your own eyes. If you time your hike right, on the trail on the bottom of the gorge by the Little Miami River, there may be a waterfall cascading over the cliffs. Overall, a great hike, but not too strenuous.

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

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