Photo: Vincent DiFrancesco
Adventure Crew is a Greater Cincinnati nonprofit that is “dedicated to connecting city teens with nature through engaging recreation, education and conservation activities,” says Associate Director Miriam Wise.
According to Wise, they offer outdoor adventure to students in 24 area schools, including all Cincinnati Public Schools’ high schools, select CPS seventh and eighth grade classes and five Northern Kentucky schools to help teens “develop the courageous spirit to step out of their comfort zone and discover new worlds — outside in nature and inside themselves.”
Adventure Crew also recently released an Outdoors for All guide. As the name suggests, this isn’t just aimed at teens; it’s for everyone. The free handbook lists a variety of resources for those interested in everything from backpacking and biking to camping, climbing and fishing. And since Adventure Crew seems like the expert in outdoor fun, we asked Wise to recommend seven fun fall things to do.
Learn more about Adventure Crew and find the guide at adventurecrew.org.
Photo: Vincent DiFrancesco
Do a Milford Double Hiker
“Milford is a great destination for outdoor adventurers, with loads of hiking, biking and kayaking options in or near its historic downtown. Valley View Foundation is an Adventure Crew fall favorite for the ‘scavenger hike’ adventures we create for our teens, but anyone can explore the wetlands, woodlands and prairie along 5 miles of trails at this lesser-known gem. For a great fall ‘double hiker,’ head to Valley View for a morning walk before venturing into downtown Milford for lunch. (Little Miami Brewing Co. is a fun option with plenty of outdoor seating where you can take in views of its namesake river.) After you’ve refueled, double back to Cincinnati Nature Center’s Rowe Woods (admission fee required) for more time on the trails. With 14 miles of them, you’re sure to find some solitude among the fall foliage. If your timing is right, the changing leaves reflected in Powel Crosley Lake make for a beautiful photo op.” Valley View Foundation, 790 Garfield Ave., Milford, valleyviewcampus.org. Cincinnati Nature Center, 4949 Tealtown Road, Milford, cincynature.org.
Photo: Stephanie Mathena
Explore Everybody’s Treehouse and Mount Airy Forest
“Adventurers of all abilities are welcome at Everybody’s Treehouse in Mount Airy Forest. Thanks to a series of ramps, the treehouse is the only universally accessible treehouse in our region. Everybody’s Treehouse was built from natural materials sourced from Mount Airy. How cool is that? After you explore the treehouse, take time to walk the nearby trails: Mount Airy is massive for a city park, spanning almost 1,500 acres. Adventure Crew especially loves hiking the stone steps for a workout. They were placed to help hikers up a steep 0.3 mile trek. Keep an eye out along the steps for fossils! There are a number of reservable shelters with charcoal grills that are ideal for a fall cookout (or even just making s’mores). Stroll down to the arboretum for an autumn photoshoot by the picturesque lake and gazebo. Be aware that certain sections of the forest are designated for bow hunting during the fall and winter.” 1212 Trail Ridge Road, Mount Airy, cincinnatiparks.com.
Find Feathered Friends at Fernald Preserve
“Grab your binoculars and take a short jaunt to Hamilton to visit Fernald Preserve. Once there, spend some time with your eyes on the sky: Fernald is a favorite destination for bird watching. More than 250 bird species have been spotted at the preserve, and fall is a great time to look for migrating birds that don’t normally live in our area. All that biodiversity is a testament to the fact that the preserve is a remarkable environmental success story. During the Cold War, the site was home to a uranium processing facility, one step in the production of nuclear weapons. Following billions of dollars of cleanup and restoration, the site was transformed into a nature preserve with 7 miles of trails that let you explore forests, wetlands and prairies. Many of the trails go through wide-open spaces without much shade, so we’d recommend a hat and sunglasses for this outing. (Note that the visitors center is currently closed because of COVID-19.)” 7400 Willey Road, Hamilton, energy.gov/lm/fernald-preserve-ohio-site.
Camp Out at Miami Whitewater Forest
“Our annual Adventure Crew campout is a big highlight for our teens. We’ve camped at destinations around the city, and we especially enjoy Miami Whitewater Forest. One of the Great Parks of Hamilton County, Miami Whitewater Forest has endless adventure possibilities. We love taking an outing here to hike, bike, paddle, fish, toss a disc and watch for birds. You can even bring along your horse for trail rides or hit the golf course for a quick nine. Whatever your outdoor interest, Miami Whitewater has you and your family covered. They even have a dog park for your furry friends. Campgrounds at Miami Whitewater are walking distance from the harbor, where you can rent bikes to enjoy the shared-use paved trails. If you’d prefer not to tent camp, RV campsites are available. All sites include a fire ring, perfect for roasting marshmallows and telling ghost stories. Check the Great Parks of Hamilton County website for site availability.” 9001 Mt. Hope Road, Harrison, greatparks.org.
Photo: Nick Swartsell
Leaf Through a Good Book at Burnet Woods
“When Adventure Crew kids aren’t out on adventures, many have quick and easy access to Burnet Woods in Clifton. Managed by Cincinnati Parks, Burnet Woods features almost 90 acres of trails and is located off multiple bus lines. Bookworm meets earthworm when you settle down for a read at Burnet Woods. The Clifton branch of the Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library sits adjacent to the park, across Ludlow Avenue; we recommend stopping in at the library to pick up a page-turner and then heading over to enjoy the changing leaves in this urban oasis. In between chapters, take a stroll around the fishing lake at Burnet, where city anglers catch and release bluegill, catfish and largemouth bass. For a more active adventure, check out the Burnet Woods disc golf course.” 3251 Brookline Ave., Clifton, cincinnatiparks.com.
Take a Peaceful Stroll at Spring Grove
“Another great greenspace that’s easily accessible to city dwellers is Spring Grove Cemetery & Arboretum. Take in the historic beauty of the third-largest cemetery in the nation as you wander the resting place for so many well-known Cincinnati entrepreneurs, politicians and community leaders. You may be surprised by how many names you recognize! Download a map from the cemetery’s website to take the self-guided walking tour. More than 40 miles of winding roads take you past preserved woodlands, serene lakes and gorgeous fall foliage. If you want to learn more about that foliage, this is the place to do it: Some 1,200 different types of plants grow in Spring Grove, and more than 1,000 of them are labeled. Don’t miss the magnificent white oak, the oldest tree in the cemetery, on your stroll through the grounds.” 4521 Spring Grove Ave., Spring Grove Village, springgrove.org.
Day Trip to Yellow Springs
“While we don’t venture out of Greater Cincinnati during our Crew adventures, our staff loves Yellow Springs for a quick fall day trip. Visit the recently reopened Glen Helen preserve to see the village’s trademark springs — their distinctive color, a perfect complement to fall foliage, results from the water’s high iron content — plus a waterfall and rocky cliffs along the preserve’s 20-plus miles of hiking trails. Or head to Clifton Gorge State Nature Preserve to hike along the Little Miami State and National Scenic River where it cascades through a beautiful gorge. The preserve offers 3 miles of trails and abuts John Bryan State Park, so you can combine the two for a longer walk. If biking is more your thing, hop on the Little Miami Scenic Bike Trail, which passes right through Yellow Springs. Be sure to allow some time to explore the village itself: The ‘hippie’ town boasts lots of locally owned shops and restaurants. To really get into the fall spirit, head to Peifer Orchards just outside of town to stock up on pumpkins, apples and cider.” Yellow Springs, Ohio, yellowspringsohio.org.