Summer in Ohio often means 90-degree days with 90% humidity. If you’re even thinking about a self-powered activity, make sure to end it at a body of water where you can jump in and cool off. Here are four swimming holes worth checking out this summer, all within a 90-minute drive of Columbus.
Sneak the creek at Shale Hollow
Head 30 minutes north to Delaware County and Shale Hollow Park for a hike-to-creek expedition. Starting from the main parking lot with a picnic area, pick up the Great Horned Owl Trail (1.1 miles) and then the Overlook Trail (1 mile). When finished, head to the adjacent off-trail exploration area along Big Run. Make sure your feet are well-covered, and start wading and exploring the creekbed to your heart’s content. Look for concretions, which resemble sandstone bowling balls embedded in the shale bluffs. Though you won’t find a pool big enough to cannonball into, the calm, shaded, shallow waters offer a pristine place to cool off on a hot summer day. Unfortunately, pets are not allowed. More info: preservationparks.com
Ride the Kokosing Gap Trail
Starting in Mount Vernon at the Mount Vernon Avenue trailhead, ride the flat, paved Kokosing Gap Trail through a mix of forests and fields as you parallel and cross the Kokosing River, a state-designated Scenic river. A few miles in, roll past Kenyon College’s Brown Environmental Center. Then, at about Mile 9, pass under the stone arch in Howard where you will exit the trail at U.S. 36. Ride south 3 miles to Bridge Street and the Millwood River Access along the Kokosing. Jump into the river from the rocky beach here, but beware of undercurrents downstream. There is a picnic area with a table, grill and port-a-potty on-site. More info: ohiodnr.gov