12 Top-Rated Waterfalls in Ohio

Written by Anietra Hamper
Jan 27, 2020

You might not know that mostly agricultural Ohio is home to an abundance of waterfalls, but there are some great places to find them in designated wildlife areas, state nature preserves, and Ohio State Parks. While the spring is a nice time to capture the cascading flow of waterfalls, they can be especially impressive during the winter as well, when the frigid Ohio weather turns them into stunning displays of ice formations.

Some of the best areas for hiking to waterfalls are in the rolling Hocking Hills region and southern Ohio. You will not find many waterfalls near Toledo in northeast Ohio, but there are many in the northeast, closer to Cleveland and near the Pennsylvania border.

No matter where you set out to explore Ohio's waterfalls, you will be impressed that such hidden beauty is tucked away in the natural landscape of this midwestern state. Find out where to go with our list of the best waterfalls in Ohio.

1. Cedar Falls

Cedar Falls

The magnificent Cedar Falls, located within Hocking Hills State Park in southeastern Ohio, is one of the most popular waterfalls in the state. It is relatively easy to get to with a half-mile hike. Layered sandstone beneath the falls creates the cascade of water that is captured in so many photographs and paintings depicting the region. The falls drop into a pool below, where you will often spot visitors cooling off their feet or skipping rocks in the summer.

The dynamics of Cedar Falls depends on how much rain comes during the spring and summer. Oftentimes in the spring, the waterfall has rushing water that ends in an ocean-like crash into the pool below. By summer, the falls is not rushing as much and sometimes it can dry up completely if there is little rainfall.

The best time of year to experience Cedar Falls is during the spring, when there is the emergence of tiny wildflowers on the forest floor and cooler temperatures for your hike. Another great time to visit is during the fall, when the vibrant colors on the trees make this a popular place for an autumn hike.

Address: Hocking Hills State Park, 19852 State Route 664 S, Logan, Ohio

Accommodation: Where to Stay near Hocking Hills State Park

2. Amphitheater Falls

Frozen Amphitheater Falls | Photo Copyright: Anietra Hamper

The one promise that comes with a place like John Bryan State Park and the protected wildlife area of Clifton Gorge State Nature Preserve is the immersion into Mother Nature's untouched display of water. The Gorge Trail in the state park leads to the stunning Amphitheater waterfall, which is as beautiful frozen in the winter as it is with rushing water in the summer. The trail entrance is located near Yellow Springs in western Ohio.

As you continue along the Gorge Trail into the state nature preserve, you can see the rushing waters in the steep and narrow limestone gorge. There are several lookouts above the gorge where you can stand and listen to the water's force.

Plan some extra time to hike the trails and grab lunch at the Clifton Mill located in the tiny village of Clifton, which you can access from the rim trial running along the top of the Clifton Gorge.

Address: Clifton Gorge State Nature Preserve, 2381 State Route 343, Yellow Springs, Ohio

3. Horseshoe Falls

Horseshoe Falls | Photo Copyright: Ohio Department of Natural Resources

A trip to see Horseshoe Falls will have the benefit of a nice hike in Caesar Creek State Park. The park is located in southwestern Ohio near the town of Wilmington. The Horseshoe Falls waterfall is located on a 1.8-mile loop within the park, which is fairly easy to navigate on a flat, unpaved path. You can find the trailhead in the Wellman Area inside of Caesar Creek park.

While Horseshoe falls in not a big waterfall, it is one of the most beautiful in the state, in part because of its surrounding landscape and wildlife that you are likely to see while you are here. The waterfall drops into the creek below and is a quiet place to sit and enjoy a picnic.

Before you head back to the parking lot be sure to take a walk across the 109-foot-long Caesar Creek Swinging Bridge that spans the waterway.

Address: Caesar Creek State Park, 9000 Center Road, Wilmington, Ohio

4. Hayden Run Falls

Hayden Run Falls

While most of Ohio's top waterfalls are located in forested areas and parks, Hayden Run Falls is in the middle of urban development in Central Ohio. The waterfall is located next to a busy roadway near the Columbus suburb of Dublin. The tiny two acres that surround Hayden Run Falls is a nice place for a picnic, a post-lunch stroll, or just some time for solitude. There are picnic tables in the park.

The waterfall itself has a 35-foot drop and is especially exciting to see after a heavy rainfall. During other times of the year, the waterfall is much smaller, but its secluded location still makes it nice to enjoy. You can see the falls from the boardwalk or overlook above, or you can walk down to the lower part of the falls. The terrain to get to the waterfall is fairly easy to navigate.

Address: 4326 Hayden Run Road, Dublin, Ohio

5. Dundee Falls

Dundee Falls

The waterfall of Dundee Falls in northeastern Ohio is one of the must-sees in the Beach City Wildlife Area. The natural terrain and forested region makes for a beautiful hike to the falls. Unlike some other waterfalls in Ohio that flow heavily only during certain times of the year or after a rainfall, Dundee Falls has fairly consistent water flow year-round.

The water from Dundee Falls drops into a picturesque gorge and flows into nearby Sugar Creek. The waterfall is part of the nearly 2,000-acre Beach City Wildlife Area, which has hiking trails and rock climbing and is close to the town of Dundee.

The walk to the falls is easy. You will want to access the trailhead to the falls from the parking lot off Dundee Wilmot Road NW.

Address: 96 Dundee Wilmot Road NW, Dundee, Ohio

6. Blackhand Gorge Waterfalls

Waterfall in Blackhand Gorge | Aryeh Alex / photo modified

There are several nice waterfalls at the Blackhand Gorge State Nature Preserve in the eastern part of Central Ohio near Newark. Blackhand Gorge is a great option if you want to see multiple waterfalls in one outing and can make a day out of it. The waterfalls are best to see in the springtime, when they have the most water flow.

The first waterfall in Blackhand Gorge is along the Chestnut Trail, which will take you on a 1.4-mile trek. You will need to access Chestnut Trail from Blackhand Gorge Trail, which is a main paved trail through the park. The walk to the trail is fairly easy.

The other waterfalls in the area are along the Marie Hickey Trail. There are several waterfalls to see on this trail, which you can access from the north parking lot.

Address: 2200 Gratiot Road SE, Newark, Ohio

7. Cascade Falls

Cascade Falls | Photo Copyright: Ohio Department of Natural Resources

If you love waterfalls but do not love the hikes that are often required to access them then Cascade Falls in Nelson Kennedy Ledges State Park is your best option. The park and waterfall are located in northeast Ohio near the town of Garrettsville. It is a short half-mile walk to Cascade Falls along the Yellow Trail, and there is a nice boardwalk that you can use to get here.

Cascade Falls offers three vantage points: from above and below and from the cave behind the waterfall. If you have time to explore more of the park, you will enjoy seeing the topography of the narrow passages and crevices and the unique rock formations called the Devil's Icebox and Old Maid's Kitchen.

Address: State Route 282, Nelson Township, Ohio

8. Big and Little Lyons Falls

Big Lyons Falls

Why just plan a visit to one waterfall when you can see two of the best in Ohio in the same outing? The Big and Little Lyons Falls are located within the Mohican State Park in Central Ohio, about 30 minutes southeast of Mansfield.

Big Lyons Falls is an impressive cascade of rushing water that drops 80 feet into the Clear Fork Gorge. The cave behind the waterfall adds a dramatic element to the imagery in this forested area.

Little Lyons Falls is a small waterfall that also drops into the Clear Fork Gorge. Due to the rock formations, it is tough to see the entire 25-foot drop of the falls but it is still impressive to observe from above.

The best way to see both of the waterfalls is to take the two-mile loop with a trailhead that starts at the Covered Bridge. The best time to see the Big and Little Lyons Falls is after a heavy rainfall, when they have the most water rushing over them.

Address: 3116 State Route 3, Loudonville, Ohio

9. Ash Cave Waterfall

Ash Cave Waterfall

The Ash Cave waterfall in the Hocking Hills State Park is as impressive for the recessed cave that surrounds it as it is for the towering water falling from the limestone cliff. The Ash Cave waterfall is one of the most accessible in the state, and it even has a wide, half-mile wheelchair and stroller path to the lower section. You pass through old-growth hemlock trees and tall cliffs as you walk back to the waterfall.

The cave itself is 700 feet wide and recesses approximately 100 feet. The 90-foot-high cliff ledge is where the waterfall flows into a small pool below. The cave was once used by early settlers as a shelter.

The waterfall is refreshing to see in the summer, as the spray from the plunging water hits you, creating a cooling effect. The wintertime is a fascinating time to experience the Ash Cave waterfall as well. The frozen water from above nearly connects to the pile of frozen water below, making almost a seamless connection of layered ice.

Address: Hocking Hills State Park, 27291 State Route 56, South Bloomingville, Ohio

10. Chagrin Falls

Chagrin Falls, Ohio

An easy-to-find and beautiful waterfall is in Chagrin Falls, located in the village with the same name. Chagrin Falls is about 25 miles east of Cleveland in northern Ohio. The waterfall is located on the Chagrin River, which flows right through the heart of Chagrin Falls. The main street bridge is located above the falls, but you can easily take a boardwalk down to the lower levels.

If you are spending extra time in the area or making a day trip out of it from Cleveland, you should also stop by the nearby Cuyahoga Valley National Park, which has several other waterfalls. Some of the notable ones in the park are Brandywine Falls, Blue Hen Falls, Mill Creek Falls, and Buttermilk Falls. All of the waterfalls in the national park will require a short hike in order to see them.

11. Paine Falls

Paine Falls

The two-tiered Paine Falls waterfall in northeast Ohio is a unique waterfall in the state to see. It is located in Paine Falls Park, close to the city of Painesville, Ohio. The waterfall is surrounded by forest, but the park has conveniences like restrooms that make it an easy place to visit for an afternoon. Paine Falls is quite accessible, so there is not much walking involved to see it.

Paine Falls is located only about a quarter mile from the parking lot, and there is an observation deck with a great view. The best times to see the falls in its full glory is after a heavy rainfall or during the autumn months, when the lush forest landscape surrounds the waterfall with stunning colors of reds, oranges, and yellows from the changing leaves on the trees.

Address: 5570 Paine Road, Leroy Twp., Ohio

12. Sheepskin Hollow Falls

Sheepskin Hollow Falls | Photo Copyright: Adam Wohlever

For the waterfall extremists who will search far and wide for something spectacular, the Sheepskin Hollow Falls should top the list for your next adventure. The reason this Ohio waterfall is unique is because it is considered a wild waterfall, and it is tucked away in the Sheepskin Hollow Nature Preserve in Columbiana County in eastern Ohio, near the town of Salem.

The nature preserve is about as rustic as you can get, and only those who are truly up for a bit of adventure should set out to find Sheepskin Hollow Falls. There are no actual trails back to the falls, and there is no designated parking area, but you can park on the side of the road.

Once in the preserve area there are signs that point you in the right direction to the waterfall. It is a rustic hike through heavy plant growth and old railroad tracks before crossing the creek to access the falls.

Address: 51766 Pancake-Clarkson Road, Negley, Ohio

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More Waterfalls: If you enjoy finding the best waterfalls in Ohio, you will also want to put a few other states on your waterfall wishlist. There are stunning waterfalls in Oregon, including Multnomah Falls and the 280-foot Salt Creek Falls in the Willamette National Forest. The waterfalls in North Carolina are worth planning a trip to see and include the jaw-dropping Whitewater Falls, which plunges more than 800 feet in the Nantahala National Forest, and the two waterfalls in Dupont State Park, which is famous for its role as a Hollywood backdrop in the Hunger Games movies.

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