This is a real treasure for hikers. In 1851, Robert S. Duncanson created an oil landscape there which he titled “Blue Hole, Little Miami River”. This classic painting now resides in the Cincinnati Art Museum. When Ronnie and I lived in Loveland, Ohio we sometimes went there to hike in the winter. For us, part of the fun was “getting there” from Loveland to Clifton. It was only about an hour’s drive and we had the option of going through the small town of Yellow Springs which is the home of Antioch College. This small village with its tiny college is worth a visit. It was founded as a utopia and that seems to be present in the culture even today.
But, back to hiking. All of the various trails here are contained within John Bryan State Park and the adjacent Clifton Gorge State Nature Preserve. The Little Miami River flows south through the tiny village of Clifton. Here there is a historic grist mill just before the river starts through a very narrow gorge. The old Clifton Mill, built in 1869 is open to the public. Here the river channel narrows to a deep gorge carved out of stone and for the next two miles the scenery is spectacular. The hiking options are many within these two natural areas. They are all beautiful but I think the eastern end where the gorge is narrow is the most impressive. Walking from the parking area in the village of Clifton you follow along on top of the gorge with occasional overlooks. Then, after a bit you have an option to stay on top of the rim or go down steps to the river below. These beautiful spots, for me, are most inviting in winter. The trees perch like skeletons on the tops of ridges, all the craggy overhangs are visible, very few other hikers are there with you and if you are lucky enough to have fresh snow it is really special.
We also came into the area on more than one occasion from the western end in the John Bryan State Park. One of the trails following the north side of the river is on the old stagecoach road between Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. The vistas here are more tranquil and the views are broader. Here are some photos of us in John Bryan State Park
You can click on the Google Map below and check out the area: