Cincinnati Nature Center – A Great Place to Explore the Outdoors

Cincinnati Nature Center is a perennial favorite spot…. for myself and so many others. And for good reason! This place has loads of options when it comes to hiking and exploring nature.

cincinnati nature center

I used to visit the Nature Center at least once a week “back in the day” and actually lived right down the street as a child (big shout out to any fellow Summerside area peeps out there!).  I now live north of the city center and don’t get out here nearly as often as I’d like.  Things like this make me want to change that bad habit…

cincinnati nature center rowe woods

The Cincinnati Nature Center got its start back in 1965.  Over the years, The Cincinnati Nature Center has grown and now includes over 1,000 acres of land and more than 16 miles of hiking trails. It includes paths through forests, fields, around ponds, streams, and is one of the best places to go when you want to “get back to nature”.

The boardwalk along a pond at Cincinnati Nature Center

Please note: the text below was written pre-COVID. The Visitors Center is open at this time BUT they are not currently distributing paper maps. You can find their maps online and on signs around the park.

My first stop was at the Rowe Visitor Center to pick up a map. They had a naturalist there at the desk so I asked him what trails to take and what I should go out to see.  We talked about how much I wanted to hike and he gave me a map along with a booklet on The Geology Trail and one on the history of the CNC.  

There was a lot more to discover inside the Visitor Center but I was anxious to get outside as it was a GORGEOUS day – way too nice to spend time inside.

Visitors Center at CNC
The Visitors Center at Cicninnati Nature Center

I decided to take the Geology Trail as it was well shaded (it was summer and HOT that day), a moderate walk, and included a number of things I wanted to spot and photograph.  This path is marked “moderate” and it lives up to its name.  

The path is gravel mostly and winds all through the forest and down to the stream a number of times.  In addition, there are hilly areas and steps.  This one isn’t for the faint of heart but I am no athlete and didn’t have any issues.

Cincinnati Nature Center Rowe Woods

The Geology Trail goes deep into heavy forest and it was an absolute delight on a hot summer day.  It winds all along the stream and offers a few different spots where you can go down to observe the rock formations. If you pick up the Geology Trail booklet you won’t have any trouble staying on the right track as the booklet leads you through it and describes points of interest.  

In the image above you’ll see a stop on the trail – an old pump house that used to house the water pump for the Krippendorf estate.  The building is limestone with open windows.  You can go inside (although there’s not much to see anymore).

Cincinnati Nature Center Rowe Woods

After I came back to the Visitor Center, I took a shorter trail that went by a few of the ponds – The Edge Trail.

This is an easy walk, just over a half mile, and it goes around Powel Crosley Lake and a marsh pond as well. I ended up taking a detour (Upland Trail) and ended up seeing all kinds of wildlife on these trails…

The marsh pond at Cincinnati Nature Center

The Upland Trail was probably my favorite one.  This trail was towards the end of my stay and by that time I had put the maps and booklets away and just wandered around, knowing that I was close to the parking lot.  The area is FULL of gorgeous fields of wildflowers and trimmed with forests.

Cincinnati Nature Center Rowe Woods

Be sure not to miss the log cabin – Abner Hollow Pioneer Cabin.  It’s in the middle of fields and beside a pond, just as it would have been when it was built.  

This log cabin was built by pioneer settlers in Adams County back in the early 1800’s. It was moved to the Cincinnati Nature Center in 1997.  

Abner Hollow Pioneer Cabin at CNC

It was all open when I was there and I was able to wander across the porches and into the rooms.  Be sure to stop and admire the view from the open windows if you go – gorgeous!

Abner Hollow Pioneer Cabin front porch at Cincinnati Nature Center Rowe Woods

Right next to the log cabin you’ll find another pond with a long boardwalk. It’s a great place to explore the pond inhabitants.

a dragonfly at the pond's edge

Along the Discovery Trail you’ll find The Krippendorf Lodge.  Built at the end of the 1800’s, this was the home of Carl and Mary Krippendorf.  It is now part of the Cincinnati Nature Center and is available for private rentals and is used for special events.  It’s a massive building, surrounded by beautiful gardens and flowers.

Krippendorf Lodge

I could go on and on and on!  Looking at the booklets I brought home, I realize I barely scratched the surface of all that can be experienced here.  I guess I’ll just have to go back!!

The Cincinnati Nature Center is located at 4949 Tealtown Road, Milford, Ohio 45150
Click here to check their hours and admissions

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About the Author
Bridgett Raffenberg
My name is Bridgett Raffenberg and I am the creator of 365Cincinnati. I've been uncovering and sharing all of the best things to do in Cincinnati since 2010. I enjoy exploring new spots, discovering local events, and meeting the people who call Cincinnati home!

6 thoughts on “Cincinnati Nature Center – A Great Place to Explore the Outdoors”

  1. Bridgett – thanks for bringing this to my attention. It looks like a great place to get out and take a nice hike. I’m going to visit it very soon!

  2. I’m a Summerside peep! I live off Bargsalt. I go to CNC everyday! It’s still great after all these years 🙂

  3. We love the Cincinnati Nature Center! Their playscape is a 5 acre fully fenced area for children to play with “no rules.” Kids can dig in sand and gravel pits, build log forts, dam up the artificial creek, or explore the meadow. My boys love it! We also love hiking the trails. They are dog friendly, well maintained, and offer a variety of lengths and options. The Nature Center calendar is always full of interesting and informative programs. It is such a great place for families!

  4. Hello from another Summerside resident. Really nice article about the Nature Center, thanks.

    These days my favorite trail is actually across Tealtown Road from the Nature Center driveway … the Lookout Trail. Beautiful walk that goes through an open field and then into the woods. A side trail takes you to an area with a open shelter that looks out toward Round Bottom Road.

    Online trail map:

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