John Bryan State Park : Most Scenic Park in Western Ohio

Sometimes I read things on the internet that say “Best coffee in the world!” and think, “Sure, that’s just what your opinion.” Recently, I read that John Bryan State Park in Yellow Springs, Ohio is considered the “The Most Scenic Park in Western Ohio.” I had been to John Bryan SP years ago and I honestly could not remember what it was exactly like. I decided that we had to make the trip over there and explore the trails of John Bryan once again and see for myself if it was, in fact, the most scenic.

When we arrived at John Bryan State Park I grabbed my camera and was going to snap a picture of the sign, there wasn’t one. I knew we had made it but without a sign I admit I kind of wondered. We drove to the main trail head and found that parking was easy and abundant. I had forgotten to get a map when we got there and so we were going to use our Ohio State Park app to find our way around. I can recommend you download this app to your smart phone while adventuring in Ohio State Parks.

In a family our size taking a potty break before any kind of hike is absolutely imperative. The kids made their way to the bathrooms and suddenly you hear their pretend gagging sounds. (INSERT ROLLING MY EYES HERE) John Bryan has bathrooms but they are pit toilets, bring your own hand sanitizer and be prepared to hold your nose.

Pit Toilets 🙂

As we entered the trail we climbed down a good number of stone steps, these are beautiful and the setting is absolutely gorgeous. Getting to the bottom of the stairs you come into an open area. Here’s where you decide what hiking adventure you want to take. As we were about to talk over our plan over, 3 large doe came crashing through the woods and sprinted across the Little Miami River that runs through the park. I LOVE seeing wild life in the woods and with kids, this can be a rarity. It set the tone for our hike, which was more than what we imagined it would be. Giant Sycamores, abundant flora and fauna, the crystal clear waters of the Little Miami River and the amazing gorge.

There are 10 trails to hike in John Bryan State Park. The hiking world is your little oyster here. Most of the hikes are short and moderate, you can’t go wrong picking out a family hike within the boundaries of this SCENIC State Park.

  • Big Furnace Trail (Camp Trail) – 1 Mile
  • Quarry Loop Trail – .47 Mile
  • North Rim Trail – 2.7 Miles
  • Pitt-Cinci Stage Coach Trail – 1.3 Miles
  • Poplar Trail – 0.1 Miles
  • Ridge Trail – 1.5 Miles
  • South Gorge Trail – 1.2 Miles (CLOSED DUE TO CONSTRUCTION)
  • Orton Memorial Trail – 0.4 Miles
  • Gorge Trail (John L. Rich Trail) – 1.3 Miles
  • Narrows Trail (John L. Rich Trail)- .6 Mile



We checked out the park on all the levels. We drove through the campground and vetted out some sites for a future stay here within the park. We did make note that John Bryan provide 9 electric sites but no water at the sites. Make sure you have a FULL reservoir of water in your travel trailer/RV or bring some jugs for water if you are tent camping. While this campground seems small, we are looking forward to staying there and hiking all the trails next year. I am learning that bigger isn’t always better. Memories come in the quiet sites with warm campfires.


A public rock climbing and rappelling area is located off the North Rim Trail. Equipment is not provided for you, so bring your own. Top-rope climbing is permitted from dawn to dusk and bouldering is prohibited. There are not many places to climb in the western part of the state, so take advantage of the opportunity here. We are still in the learning stages of climbing and don’t own our equipment, so maybe someday we can come here and do this.

You can also enjoy mountain biking, picnicking, canoeing and disk golf  at John Bryan State park. With so many things to do here, you can spend a full day or bring your camping gear and make it a weekend. Why not grab your hiking buddy or your family and head to the western most scenic Ohio State Park this weekend!

Happy Adventuring!


When we head to this area we always go to Young’s Jersey Dairy! Ice cream and fun are only 5 miles away. YUMMY!

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