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20 Spectacular Waterfalls in Ohio You Need to Visit

Discover a few spectacular waterfalls in Ohio to visit with these directions, tips, and details.

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Written by Jason Barnette
on March 22, 2021
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When you think of Ohio, you probably think of flat agricultural lands as far as the eye can see. Would you be surprised to learn the state features dozens of spectacular waterfalls? I was surprised to learn this tidbit of information – and it sent me on a whirlwind road trip across the state.

I started my road trip across Ohio on U.S. Highway 23 through the middle of the state. Columbus for a few days. Chillicothe – the state’s first capital city. Toledo, where I found a city on the edge of rejuvenation.

Somewhere around Dayton, everything changed. I had heard of the Hocking Hills region in the past – and knew of the waterfalls there – but I never imagined there would be more waterfalls across the state. Then a local told me about the twin waterfalls in Elyria. And Paine Falls. And Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Suddenly, I was on a mission. Autumn was approaching. My gas tank was nearing empty. How many spectacular waterfalls in Ohio could I discover?

Table Of Contents

Waterfalls in Ohio

Waterfalls are almost always better viewed in the spring. Melting snow and heavy rains provide the water needed to create these spectacular works of nature.

Visiting the waterfalls in Ohio would be best as a spring adventure. March is still too chilly, so April or May are better.

But don’t discount the splendor of visiting these waterfalls in Ohio after a heavy rain in the middle of the summer or even the autumn months. The waterfalls may have less flow – or dry up entirely – but the local scenery will still be worth the effort.

No. 1

Paine Falls

Paine Falls Park in Painesville, OH

The sound of water cascading across bare rocks was occasionally disrupted by a car driving across the bridge above. The trestle bridge was probably a vibrant blue at one time, but now it was faded to an almost steel gray. It was a beautiful addition to the vista at Paine Falls.

The two-tiered cascading waterfall dropped a combined 25 feet into a shallow pool. It looked like the kind of place that would make for excellent summer fun, but I couldn’t find a safe way to reach the bottom. Instead, I enjoyed the view from above at a scenic overlook. A pair of benches invited me to sit for a while and enjoy the sound echoing through the air.

Public restrooms and picnic tables make Paine Falls Park an inviting place to visit. The view at the observation area requires a climb down a set of stairs.

Parking

There is plenty of parking in Paine Falls Park. The staircase leading down to the scenic overlook is at the edge of the parking lot.

5570 Paine Road, Painesville, OH

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No. 2

Lanterman’s Falls

Youngstown, OH

In 1799, the first of several mills was built beside a natural waterfall on Mills Creek. A second mill was washed away in a flood, leaving the property empty until German Lanterman and Samuel Kimberly built the current mill in 1846.

Lanterman’s Mill served as a grist mill until it closed in 1888. The state purchased the property, converted the first floor of the gristmill into a nature museum, and opened it to the public. In 1982, the mill was restored to functional use – just as it remains today.

The thundering Lanterman’s Falls fills the air at the observation area below and above the falls. It’s only a 15-foot drop, but there is a lot of water making that drop. It’s easy to view the falls from the sidewalk along Canfield Road – but be sure to also visit the beautiful, covered bridge further upstream.

Parking

You won’t find any parking directly beside Lanterman’s Mill – it’s beside the road and about ten feet down the riverbank. Instead, turn onto East Park Drive, and you’ll find parking at Mill Creek Park.

1001 Canfield Road, Youngstown, OH

It’s an urban waterfall, but it’s still beautiful.

No. 3

Chagrin Falls

Chagrin Falls, OH

Chagrin Falls – located in the town of the same name on the river of the same name – is one of the most beautiful urban waterfalls in the country. Tumbling 20 feet over a rock ledge, the waterfall is surrounded by the Chagrin Falls Popcorn Shop on one side and Starbucks on the other.

Beside the popcorn shop – also a great place to get ice cream fresh-baked donuts – a set of stairs leads to an observation area near the base of the falls. A pair of benches invite you to sit for a while. At one time, steps continued down to the river’s rocky shore, but those steps have been damaged – proceed with caution.

Before you leave, take a walk along Main Street. The bridge crosses above the waterfall – which doesn’t provide much of a view – but if you look on the other side, you’ll see a small weir dam. For the best experience, come in the late afternoon, about two hours before sunset, for spectacular light.

Parking

Are you good at parallel parking? You’ll find plenty of parking along Main Street – even a few spaces on the bridge over the waterfall. You’ll find additional parking along North Franklin Street and a large parking lot on West Washington Street.

53 North Main Street, Chagrin Falls, OH

No. 4

Great Falls of Tinker’s Creek

Viaduct Park in Bedford, OH

100 feet wide and 20 feet tall, the Great Falls at Tinker’s Creek is a breathtaking waterfall. The waterfall is frequently listed among those in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. But it’s actually located in Bedford Reservation – a Metropark owned by the city. 

From the large parking lot in Viaduct Park, it’s an easy 0.6-mile hike on a paved path to an observation area above the waterfall. That alone is a great place to see the waterfall, but if you’re up for a little more adventure, there is a better place.

Continue down a set of steps and begin crawling across some rocks. This activity is allowed but use caution. Even with my bad knee, I reached a place at the bottom of the falls with a spectacular view.

Parking

Viaduct Park has plenty of parking for personal vehicles – although you won’t recognize the park’s entrance from Willis Street. It looks more like an unofficial entrance with a slight hop onto the curb, but it’s drivable.

205 Willis Street, Bedford, OH (Viaduct Park is located beside Lake Shore Electric Corporation at this address)

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No. 5

Bridal Veil Falls

Bedford Reservation in Bedford, OH

Also located inside the Bedford Reservation Metropark, Bridal Veil Falls is an easier trail to access in Ohio. There’s only a one-quarter mile hike to an observation area above the waterfall from a parking lot along Gorge Road.

Parking

There is a small – very small – parking lot on the side of Gorge Road.

Bridal Veil Falls Parking Lot, Walton Hills, OH

The view of Brandywine Falls from the wooden observation deck.

No. 6

Brandywine Falls

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Cascading 65 feet down the exposed rock, Brandywine Falls is the tallest waterfall in Ohio. Located in Cuyahoga Valley National Park, it’s also one of the most visited in the state.

The hike to the waterfall begins along a wooden boardwalk and descends a series of stairs to an observation deck. That’s as close as you can safely get to the waterfall – and it’s plenty good enough.

The roar of the crashing water echoes in your ears. It doesn’t entirely drown out nearby conversation, but it does a wonderful job drowning out the sound of cars and airplanes. Benches will give you a chance to sit for a while and enjoy the view.

Parking

Parking is not always guaranteed despite nearly four dozen spaces – it’s a very popular area. The parking lot is also used for the nearby bicycling trail, so it’s a mixture of daily visitors. Arrive early for a spot.

8176 Brandywine Road, Northfield, OH

Photo courtesy of Sarah Richter.

No. 7

Blue Hen Falls

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Although not the most spectacular waterfall, Blue Hen Falls is a peaceful place for an easy hike in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The 15-foot waterfall is best viewed in the spring or after a heavy rainfall, otherwise, it might be nothing more than a trickle over the rock ledge.

Parking

The most difficult part about reaching the waterfall is finding a place to park. A small, unpaved parking area – officially labeled as “Overflow Parking” for some mysterious parking lot – is the only place to park your car along Boston Mills Road. Locals have warned that parking along the road will inevitably lead to the car getting towed.

2030 Boston Mills Road, Brecksville, OH (not a precise address)

Photo courtesy of Carlos Javier.

No. 8

Berea Falls

Berea, OH

Berea Falls can offer a stunning view, but you’ll have to work for it. The 25-foot-tall cascading waterfall passes beneath two railroad bridges with beautiful stonework. But the view from the wooden observation deck – located directly beside the parking area on Valley Parkway – offers only a limited view of the waterfall.

The best view involves a long climb down to the river’s edge. It’s possible but requires a bit of effort. From there, pick any of the large boulders for a family picnic or photographic opportunity.

Berea Falls is located in Rocky River Reservation. Valley Parkway is a stunning two-lane drive through the urban wilderness, winding along and frequently crossing the river.

Parking

There is a small parking lot at the beginning of Valley Parkway with about a half dozen spaces. The parking lot is directly behind the wooden observation deck.

136 East Bagley Road, Berea, OH (GPS Directions)

No. 9

East Falls

Elyria, OH

In the 1920s, a dam was built along the East Branch of the Black River for a power station. Although the power station is long since gone, the dam remains and adds to the scenic beauty of East Falls.

A wooden observation deck – part of the East Falls Riverwalk – provides a fairly good view between the dam and rock ledge of the waterfall. A lower observation deck gets a bit closer to the natural waterfall, but for the best view, you’ll have to do a bit of work to reach the river’s edge.

Just don’t do anything illegal here – the city’s police department is located next door!

Parking

A large parking lot on Kerstetter Way offers plenty of places for visitors. If the parking lot is full, you can drive next door to the police department and find a few visitor spaces.

195 Kerstetter Way, Elyria, OH

View of West Falls from the river’s edge. The observation deck is to the upper right just out of frame of this photo.

No. 10

West Falls

Cascade Park in Elyria, OH

West Falls passes beneath the Lake Avenue bridge and falls nearly 30 feet into the West Branch of the Black River. The overhanging rock ledge allows for a freefalling waterfall and thunderous crash into the shallow river.

There are two ways to reach this waterfall and two different vantage points to view it – leading to an adventurous hour or two. The easiest way to the waterfall is a 0.6-mile hike on the Upper Trail – a paved path leading to a wooden observation deck high above the river. The more adventurous route is to take the 0.7-mile Lower Trail – the primitive trail crosses rocks and roots at the river’s edge to the observation deck.

The observation deck provides a great view of the waterfall. But the most spectacular view is from the base. A primitive trail descends the riverbank beneath the footbridge, crossing to the other side. Climb across a series of well-worn river rocks to a point directly in front of the waterfall.

Parking for this waterfall is available at Cascade Park. The public park features restrooms and covered picnic shelters.

Parking

There is plenty of parking in Cascade Park. Despite being a gorgeous park, it rarely fills up except for special events and holiday weekends. You’ll most likely find a place to park.

170 Cascade Street, Elyria, OH

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No. 11

Big Falls

Cuyahoga Falls, OH

The aptly named Cuyahoga Falls features two waterfalls along the Cuyahoga River. Little Falls is located downtown behind the Sheraton Suites – it’s not much of a view. Big Falls, on the other hand, is a different story.

In 1913, Gorge Dam was built on the Cuyahoga River to provide hydroelectric power. Although power is no longer generated, the dam has remained. The Cuyahoga River drops 200 feet in just two miles – so you can imagine the force of the water spilling over the dam – crashing onto the rocks below that were never altered.

Parking

The closest place to park is at the Gorge Metro Park, about a half-mile upriver from Big Falls. The Gorge Trail leads visitors to Old Maid’s Kitchen – locally called Mary Campbell’s Cave – and a wooden observation deck beside the dam. It’s a pretty spectacular place to view the waterfall, but you might get a better view if you continue hiking further down the trail.

1160 Front Street, Cuyahoga Falls, OH

No. 12

Lyons Falls

Mohican State Park in Loudonville, OH

Mohican State Park is an excellent opportunity for outdoor recreation and weekend getaways in Ohio. The park features horseback riding trails, mountain biking trails, and almost a dozen hiking trails – one of them leading to Big Lyons Falls and Little Lyons Falls.

It’s a 1.6-mile round trip hike on Lyons Falls Trail to see the two waterfalls. The hike starts with the first of several ascents along the trail. About halfway along the trail is Little Lyons Falls, and then you’ll come to Big Lyons Falls.

These waterfalls are best viewed in the spring or after a heavy rain.

Parking

The closest place to park for the hike to this waterfall is beside the Pleasant Hill Dam. It’s a small parking area, but about the only people who use it are day hikers heading to the waterfalls.

3116 OH-3, Loudonville, OH (Address for the state park)

Photo courtesy of Kyle Hartshorn.

No. 13

Hayden Falls

Dublin, OH

Hidden in a tiny gorge amidst the greater Columbus area’s urban wilderness, Hayden Falls can be a very hit or miss waterfall to view. But after a heavy rain, it can be a spectacular sight.

Use the small parking lot at Hayden Falls Park to begin the adventure. Climb down a long series of steps to a wooden boardwalk in a gorge adjacent to the Scioto River. It only takes minutes to reach the end of the boardwalk and learn whether or not you’ll see a spectacular sight.

When at capacity, the water falls 35’ into a shallow pool before draining into the river. It’s easy enough to leave the boardwalk behind and explore for a better vantage point. But this is a waterfall that definitely requires previous wet weather to fully enjoy.

Parking

The parking lot for this urban waterfall has less than half a dozen spaces – not many people venture here. Hayden Run Road is a four-lane highway, and there is no dedicated turn lane into the park. Take caution making a left turn.

4326 Hayden Run Road, Dublin, OH

Upper Falls in October was dry as a bone, but the view was still stunning.

No. 14

Upper Falls

Hocking Hills State Park in Logan, OH

Hocking Hills State Park is one of the most popular state parks in Ohio and one of the most gorgeous in the country. There are several sections of the park to visit and trails to hike connecting four stunning waterfalls.

Old Man’s Cave is the most popular section of the park located around the visitor center on State Route 664. It’s the location of an overhanging cliff and recessed “rooms” resembling a dwelling – hence the name about an old man.

Upper Falls is one of Ohio’s most visited waterfalls because of how easy it is to reach the falls. From the trail at the end of the visitor center parking lot, you’ll cross a stone footbridge. The bridge was made from local materials, so it blends flawlessly with the rest of the gorge – making it almost appear natural.

The trail continues to the bottom of the waterfall. Tumbling 40 feet down a couple of tiers, the water spills into a shallow pool at the base. Surrounded by the gorge’s dark rock walls, the waterfall would be a peaceful oasis, if not almost always crowded with visitors.

Parking

The best place to park is the ginormous lot at the Hocking Hills State Park visitor center. Be warned, though, this parking tends to fill up fast on holidays, weekends, and summer days. People will begin parking on the grass and along State Route 664. Arrive early, and plan to spend the day.

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No. 15

Lower Falls

Hocking Hill State Park in Logan, OH

The 6-mile Grandma Gatewood Trail connects Upper Falls, Lower Falls, Cedar Falls, and Ash Cave Falls through Hocking Hills State Park. The trail begins at Upper Falls and continues through the gorge. The first section between Upper Falls and Old Man’s Cave is the most frequently hiked in the park – beyond that, fewer people travel.

At just 25 feet tall, Lower Falls is not as spectacular as Upper Falls, however, it is always less crowded. Water from the creek spills over several tiers, crashing into the shallow water at the edge of a giant boulder. My recommendation would be to hike with a hammock and a book and plan to spend a few hours here.

Parking

The best place to park is the ginormous lot at the Hocking Hills State Park visitor center. Be warned, though, this parking tends to fill up fast on holidays, weekends, and summer days. People will begin parking on the grass and along State Route 664. Arrive early, and plan to spend the day.

Photo courtesy of James St. John.

No. 16

Cedar Falls

Hocking Hills State Park in Logan, OH

Tucked away in a little alcove of Hocking Hills State Park, Cedar Falls is almost always flowing. The 50-foot-tall cascading waterfall tumbles down the rocks into a shallow pool of crystal clear water. Sometimes – after heavy rains and during the spring months – the water flow is so high the pebble beach is covered with water.

The most interesting thing at Cedar Falls is the hike to get there along Democracy Steps. Designed by Akio Hizume – an artist, architect, and nature lover – the 100 steps from the parking lot to the waterfall were designed for an easy climb. Although the length of the steps varies, the height is only about half of a typical staircase – making the steps easy to climb.

Parking

Despite being a remote waterfall in Hocking Hills State Park, it remains super popular. Parking is usually gone early on weekends and summer days. A small parking area along State Route 374 is almost directly above the waterfall but doesn’t provide a great view. Two additional parking lots are located just down the road.

No. 17

Ash Cave Falls

Hocking Hills State Park in Logan, OH

Ash Cave Falls is one of the most accessible waterfalls in Ohio – the half-mile Ash Gorge Trail is wheelchair accessible! Ash Cave is a 100 foot deep, 700 foot wide recessed cave beneath a limestone overhang. The waterfall beautifully pours off the ledge, crashing into a muddy creek surrounded by towering pine trees.

The cave is about 90 feet deep, allowing visitors to duck inside during those sudden summer thunderstorms. It’s also just a great place to pull out a chair and relax for the day. Or – if you’re anything like me – string up a hammock between those trees.

Parking

There is a small parking area just off County Route 56 – but those are really reserved as handicap parking. Across the road, a much larger parking lot provides plenty of spaces. Crossing the road is safe – about the only traffic on the road is people coming to the waterfall.

No. 18

Clifton Mills Falls

Clifton Mills, OH

Clifton Mills Falls is one of Ohio’s most unique waterfalls – it passes beneath a historic old mill! In the early 1800s, a dam was built on the Little Miami River, and the first water-powered mill was built on this location. Water was diverted to the wheel – still in operation today – but eventually, water began seeping through the rock face below the building.

Today, Clifton Mills Falls is a cascading waterfall that casually and almost quietly flows into the Little Miami River. The best view of the waterfall is from the historic 90’ long covered bridge – a few windows provide a great opportunity for viewing the mill and waterfall. Clifton Mills is also a great place to get something to eat, and they have a small gift shop to explore.

Parking

You’ll find a limited amount of parallel parking along Water Street in front of Clifton Mills. The best place to park is a large gravel parking area on Wilberforce-Clifton Road. The parking lot connects to the covered bridge and the opportunity to see the waterfall.

75 Water Street, Clifton, OH

No. 19

Charleston Falls

Tipp City, OH

The 216-acre Charleston Falls State Nature Preserve is one of the most peaceful outdoor spots in Ohio. It’s not visited all that often – other than locals – so if you venture here for the waterfall, you just might have the place to yourself.

Charleston Falls is a 37-foot tall freefalling waterfall. A small creek spills over an overhanging rock ledge and crashes into rocks at the bottom.

Hiking to the waterfall can be a quick affair or a two-hour adventure. From the parking lot, it’s just 0.3-miles along the Charleston Falls Loop Trail to the waterfall. The trail descends a staircase to a wooden observation deck at the base of the falls.

The longer adventure would be to hike the entire 1.8-mile loop trail. It’s an easy hike with very little elevation change, crossing a couple of creeks and passing a small pond.

Parking

You’ll find a large parking lot and adjacent overflow parking area at the nature preserve along Ross Road. Restrooms are located in the parking lot.

2535 Ross Road, Tipp City, OH

No. 20

Horseshoe Falls

Caesar Creek State Park in Waynesville, OH

Saving one of the best for last – here is the spectacular Horseshoe Falls. Located inside Caesar Creek State Park, it’s one of the most exciting hikes to a waterfall in Ohio.

In the 1970s, the US Army Corps of Engineers built an earth fill dam to create Caesar Creek Lake. Ohio leases about 7,000 acres from the Corps of Engineers for the state park. The park features horseback riding and hiking trails, boating and swimming in the lake, and an awesome campground with full hookups.

Horseshoe Falls is located on Flat Fork Creek near the state park’s visitor center. A leisure 0.7-mile hike on the Horseshoe Falls Trail takes about forty minutes. The waterfall isn’t very tall – a scant few feet – but it’s wide and almost always flowing. The trail provides a few different perspectives of the waterfall – and it’s easy enough to hike down to the water’s edge.

The coolest part about this hike is the 100’ suspension bridge. This might be a dealbreaker, but hiking across the bridge was definitely a highlight of the experience.

Parking

The Wellman Meadows area of the park features a public boat ramp with lots of parking, but what you’re looking for is the small parking area nearby. There are restrooms I recommend using before starting the hike. 

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