Wahkeena Nature Preserve with Kids

Edge of Hocking Hills delight for families

This past year, a friend and I packed up our kids and visited Wahkeena State Nature Preserve, the perfect day trip for anyone in Central Ohio.  Located just south of Lancaster in Fairfield County, the Preserve is on the northern edge of the Hocking Hills region.

Wahkeena is the Native American word for “Most beautiful.”  The unassuming vegetation of this area really is beautiful.

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Wahkeena 1

There are 2-3 different trails at Wahkeena.  These are short in length and fairly easy for children.  Watch for the local wildlife though! #Notafanofthisguy


There is no handicap-accessible route, so don’t plan on taking a stroller.  I carried our littlest in the hiking backpack (similar).  This worked well except for the wetland boardwalk.  Two little boys on a moving boardwalk… you can imagine! 😉

The Visitor Center is a must-see.  There are taxidermied animals (a little creepy) and real ones!  There are also fantastic diagrams showing how many bears, bobcats, etc have been spotted throughout Ohio.  This is interesting – and a little frightening!  For ages 6-10 this would be the perfect place for a science lesson on habitats and environments.

Wahkeena visitor

The kids’ favorite part of the day was this barred owl.  He is kept at the Preserve due to an injury he sustained when he was hit by a car.  Owls are so majestic, the kids really enjoyed watching him.


Have you been to Wahkeena Nature Preserve?  It would be a great pit stop on your way to Hocking Hills from Columbus.  I think we’ll go back in a few years once my younger kids children understand a bit more.

For more to do in Hocking Hills – check out my posts on the best hikes for kids at Hocking Hills & a day in Hocking Hills with kids. You may also want to consider staying at the Hocking Hills Caboose.  It’s a major hit with kids!

More information on Wahkeena Nature Preserve

There is no designated picnicking spot.  We packed some sandwiches and ate them in the parking lot.  Lancaster is only 15 minutes away, where you’ll find many eating out options.

Want to try another hike?  Check out Shallenberger Nature Preserve.

Wahkeena State Nature Preserve is administered by the Ohio History Connection and managed locally by the Fairfield County Historical Society.  You can see the OHS website HERE.

For a more thorough review with up-to-date hours and schedules, one of the employees of Wahkeena keeps a blog HERE.

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