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When I hiked John Bryan State Park several weeks ago, I found it to be one of the prettiest green spaces in Ohio. [Story] [Blog] Yet, at the end of the main trail was the entrance to Clifton Gorge State Nature Preserve, clearly a beautiful and expanse in its own right.

This weekend, tagging along with girlfriend's awesome family, I got to take that mysterious road leading into deeper, denser wilderness. It proved to be an amazing trip through: virgin forest; lush, mossy undergrowth; and water features that rival anything in the state.

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Clifton's trails are easily accessible from multiple parking lots at either end of the gorge. I suggest setting up shop in John Bryan's Lower Picnic Area, walking the Pittsburgh-Cincinnati Stage Coach Trail to the foot bridge and entering there.

[Clifton Gorge brochure]

You'll see rapids, beautiful river pools, rock formations and tons of wildflowers -- spring beauty, columbine, jack-in-the-pulpit, trillium and others.

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What's cool about the trail is that it narrows; as you walk along the rocky path, water begins to rush faster and harder. Watch for a few Canada geese shooting the rapids like lazy, feathered kayaks. At the northern end is the Clifton Mill, an old grist mill that once harnessed the power of the Little Miami River.

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