Hiking Blackhand Gorge with little ones

Central Ohio has a gem of an outdoor recreation spot and that is Blackhand Gorge State Nature Preserve. Well-known for its 4.3-mile bike path, the area also contains other hiking trails as well as a portion of the Ohio-Erie Canal. 

Blackhand Gorge is approximately 50 miles from downtown Columbus, OH by taking Interstate 161 to SR 16. It is 35 miles southwest of Coshocton, OH, also via 16.

We were lucky enough to live very close to Blackhand Gorge for 7 years. They no longer offer the event, but I also ran a 5K and 10K trail run on the property.

Blackhand Gorge Map -
Map via Licking County Health Dept

Two of our favorite trails are the Marie Hickey and Oak Knob trails. Both trails are accessed by the North Parking lot.

Blackhand Gorge with children - this hiking spot in Central Ohio is great for families.
Marching up the hill – similar carrier HERE
wildflowers at Blackhand Gorge State Nature Preserve

Our children always get a lot of enjoyment from “monkey vines” as they offer a fun respite from walking. 🙂

Blackhand Gorge with kids
Hiking Blackhand Gorge with kids

I will be honest, there isn’t a lot to “see” on this hike. A small waterfall and stream. A glimpse at the new railroad bridge. But if you are going to Blackhand for some quiet and time away from the city, then the Marie Hickey trail will be great for your family!

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If you have more energy after finishing the 2-mile trail, head to the main parking lot near the town of Toboso. The Canal Lock trail is just across the bridge.

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The Canal Lock is an amazing piece of history. And you don’t realize how large it is until you are standing next to it! This trail is mostly flat except for the steep hill to go down into the old canal. You could definitely push a jogging stroller on the main trail if need be.

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You can continue past the lock to the old railroad tunnel. This is insanely dark and lots of fun for kids (well, if they are not afraid of the dark).

If you’re not up for real hiking, the Blackhand Trail is a paved multi-purpose trail. This trail is perfect for strollers and offers a beautiful view of the Licking River in all seasons. You’ll often see families walking their dogs or joggers training for an upcoming race.

Have you been to Blackhand Gorge? What’s your favorite trail? Have you added it to your Ohio Bucket List?

Looking for more things to do in the Newark, Ohio area – Check out the Newark Earthworks or Dawes Arboretum. Love hiking as a family? Here are 5 Ohio hikes to do with kids.

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Hiking Blackhand Gorge State Nature Preserve with kids.  A great hiking spot in Central Ohio which also offers a 4-mile bike trail.  Beautiful scenery and a section of the Ohio-Erie canal are part of this great outdoor spot for families.

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