This Fall Driving Tour was created as a way to pay homage to the Miami County Park District's 50th anniversary in 2017. Along with visiting 10 parks and more than 20 miles of hiking trails, the tour also explores 70 miles of Miami County's most colorful back roads, with many unique stops along the way.
The largest town on the tour is Pleasant Hill and the roads between each park are filled with plenty of local color. The tour can be seen as a connect-the-dots of 10 of the Miami County Park District's 13 parks, and can be done in one drive, or broken up over several days during the season.
Note: The tour is a 70-mile loop around Miami County. Directions listed below run counter-clockwise and the tour can be started at any point along the loop, including the 10 featured parks. The directions below start with Goode Prairie Preserve, which is one of three beautiful Miami County Parks located in this peaceful, secluded park of the county. Enjoy!
Story & Photos by Matt Bayman
Goode Prairie Nature Preserve
10354 Union Church Road, Bradford
Hiking Trails - 0.5 miles
One of the lesser-known Miami County Parks, Goode Prairie Nature Preserve is a very colorful place, especially in the fall.
Right now, the large, rural prairie is a sea of yellow wildflowers. The trees that surround the prairie are changing fast and will display many colors throughout the fall season.
The park features a half-mile trail that wraps around the edge of the prairie. It's a short hike, but completely worthwhile.
Overall, Goode Prairie Preserve offers true peace and quiet, and spectacular scenery. Bring a camera!
From Goode Prairie Preserve exit right onto Union Church Road
and drive to Fink Road
Right on Fink Road to Route 185
Right on Route 185 to Maple Ridge Reserve
(Maple Ridge Reserve is located on the left side of the road, directly
after the Stillwater River bridge)
Maple Ridge Reserve
10430 Route 185, Covington
Hiking Trails - 2.5 miles
Maple Ridge Reserve is another lesser-known Miami County Park. Located along the Stillwater River, it features 2.5 miles of hiking trails, which pass through thick woods, rolling prairies (where some of the best foliage can be seen), a pond, and a replica sugar house and sugar camp.
The park is also a great place to see a lot of different mushrooms, wildflowers and tons of wildlife. Just as with Goode Prairie, the peace and quiet at this park is hard to beat.
Exit to the right from Maple Ridge Reserve
onto Route 185 to Stillwater Prairie Reserve
(The park entrance will be on your right)
Stillwater Prairie Reserve
9750 Route 185, Covington
Hiking Trails - 3 miles
Hiking trails at Stillwater Prairie Reserve lead to some very colorful places, including a fishing pond, the banks of the Stillwater River, and through thick woods and large prairies. Each of these areas has its own unique fall colors, with a highlight being the boardwalk trail, pictured below.
Exit to the right from Stillwater Prairie Reserve on Route 185 to Rangeline Road
Right on Rangeline Road to Covington-Gettysburg Road
Right on Covington-Gettysburg Road to Greenville Falls
There is a parking lot for Greenville Falls directly on your left
Greenville Falls State Scenic River
9140 Covington-Gettysburg Road, Covington
Hiking Trails - 1 mile
View the falls from both sides of the stream and discover relics from an old electric mill at this unique park on the outskirts of Covington. The area around the falls is very colorful in the fall.
Exit to the right from Greenville Falls parking lot onto Covington-Gettysburg Road to Rangeline Road
Right on Rangeline Road to Falknor Road
Left on Falknor Road to Owens Road
Upcoming Points of Interest
Falknor Road stone walls (pictured at right)
Owens Road river drive
Owens Road Steel Bridge
Horse farms on Sugar Grove
Indians Pizza (famous pizza buffet every Wednesday night)
Pathway to Herbs
Civil War Soldier Statue
Gasoline & Snacks
Right on Owens Road to Sugar Grove Road
Left on Sugar Grove Road to Route 48
Right on Route 48 to Ludlow Falls
(A parking lot for the falls is under the bridge at the intersection of Route 55 and Route 48)
Ludlow Falls is not a Miami County Park location, but it is a landmark of the region.
In the fall, the rim of the waterfall area showcases a variety of different fall colors. During the peak weeks of the season, the scenery seems to change on a daily basis.
There are no hiking trails at Ludlow Falls, but visitors can park next to the falls and walk up for pictures, and great views.
Ludlow Falls is named after Ludlow Creek, which feeds the falls and is a tributary of the Stillwater River. It is only 13.5 miles long. Ludlow Falls itself is named after Ohio surveyor, Israel Ludlow.
Continue south on Route 48 to Route 55 East
Left on Route 55 to Kessler-Frederick Road
Right on Kessler-Frederick Road and an immediate left onto
Monroe Concord Road
Follow Monroe Concord to John A. Wannemacher Nature Preserve
John A. Wannemacher Nature Preserve
1876 Monroe-Concord Road, Troy
Hiking Trails - 1.6 miles
This little oasis on the prairie is great for its solitude, wildlife viewing and wonderful fall colors. Trails pass through open prairie, which are surrounded by colorful trees. A pond in the middle of the park attracts ducks, geese and other birds and wildlife. Two benches overlook the water.
Turn left on Monroe Concord Road to Peters Road
Right on Peters Road to Ginghamsburg Frederick
(You'll cross Route 571 and will be in Monroe Township)
Left on Ginghamsburg Frederick to County Road 25-A
Right on 25-A, then immediate left onto Gingamsburg to Tipp Cowlesville
Right on Tipp Cowlesville Road to Old Springfield/Ross Road
Left on Old Springfield (which becomes Ross Road) to Charleston Falls
Charleston Falls Nature Preserve
2535 Ross Road, Tipp City
Hiking Trails - 3 miles
Some of the best places to see fall foliage at Charleston Falls are from the Goldenrod Hexagon (pictured below), at Cedar Pond (pictured at left); and from atop the observation tower on the Thorny Badland Trail. The foliage around the waterfall is also more vibrant during the fall, but the areas that seem to stand out most are in the open prairies, and at the highest points in the park. There's also a colorful display of wildflowers.
Exit left from Charleston Falls onto Ross Road to Route 202
Left on Route 202 to Honey Creek Preserve
(This is an interesting stretch of Route 202 that sits far above the Great Miami River on the left side of the road. It also passes through West Charleston, where the Ye Olde Meeting House shop sits on the edge of town. This long stretch is very colorful)
Honey Creek Preserve
4536 Route 202, Tipp City
Hiking Trails - 1 mile
This park combines a farm setting with a very quiet section of the Great Miami River, and is located near Tipp City.
A short set of hiking trails at the park lead through colorful prairies and another goes right up to the river.
The trails at the river, some of which are shared with horseback riders, are surrounded by wildflowers and natural wetlands.
It will be in the prairie where the best fall colors can be seen, especially when the surrounding trees begin to change.
Exit left from Honey Creek back onto Route 202
to Children's Home Road
Right on Children's Home Road to Knoop Road
Left on Knoop to Route 41 and entrance of Lost Creek Reserve
(Knoop Road is one of the most picturesque roads in Miami County,
especially in the fall)
Lost Creek Reserve & Knoop Agricultural Heritage Center
2385 Route 41, Troy
Hiking Trails - 3.4 miles
Lost Creek Reserve has the most hiking trails of any park in Miami County - and they're very diverse.
One gravel trail at the north end of the park passes through deep woods. Another follows the meandering Lost Creek. Others pass cornfields. With the Knoop farmstead and its red barns as the backdrop, fall is a very special time at Lost Creek Reserve.
Exit left from Lost Creek Reserve onto Route 41
to Children's Home Road
Left on Children's Home Road to Loy Road
(Note: In Casstown, Children's Home Road becomes Route 589)
Upcoming Points of Interest
Children's Home Road
The John Minor Dye Stone House 1812 on the corner of Lefevere Road
Holly's Cafe and Carryout
Lost Creek Cemetery and Historic Marker
Old school house near Miami East
Left on Loy Road to Casstown-Sidney Road
Right on Casstown-Sidney Road to Garbry Big Woods Reserve
Garbry Big Woods Reserve
6660 Casstown-Sidney Road, Piqua
Hiking Trails - 2.2 miles
A very peaceful park, Garbry Big Woods Reserve is a must-visit during the fall. Make sure to visit the Native Tree Arboretum, which displays the different trees found in Miami County, all in one place. Other trails lead through dense woodlands, past a picturesque pond and through a large prairie.
Exit left from Garbry Big Woods Reserve
onto Casstown-Sidney Road to Statler Road
Left on Statler Road to Garbry Big Woods Sanctuary
Garbry Big Woods Sanctuary
2540 Statler Road, Piqua
Hiking Trails - 1 Mile
This park is a true gem of the Miami County Park District system, and a great place to see fall foliage.
The park's one-mile boardwalk trail is wheelchair friendly and it meanders through some very deep, old woods. Hikers will see old growth trees, colorful canopies above and below, and wildflowers and mushrooms everywhere.
A memorial plaque in the middle of the woods is a fitting tribute to the man that the two Garbry parks are named after.
Exit to the left from Garbry Big Woods Sanctuary on Statler Road
to Fairview Snodgrass
Right on Fairview-Snodgrass to Fairview
(When you cross U.S. 36 there is a quick jog to the right and
then left and back onto Fairview Road)
Continue north on Fairview Road to Snodgrass
(At the curve/fork, continue left/straight on Snodgrass Road)
Snodgrass to Spring Creek
Right on Springcreek to Miami-Shelby Road
Left on Miami-Shelby Road
(Cross over Interstate 75)
Left on Hetzler to Clevenger Road
(This road passes above a large valley overlooking the Great Miami River north of Piqua)
Right on Clevenger to Piqua Lockington Road
Right on Piqua Lockington Road to Landman Mill Road
(Turn left at the fork in the road, which is Landman Mill Road)
Left on Landman Mill Road to Rangeline Road
(NOTE: After Hardin Road, Landman Mill Road becomes Miami Shelby Road. Follow Miami Shelby Road and cross Route 66 and Route 48)
Canal Lock 7
Right after turning onto Landman Mill Road, be on the lookout (on your right) for Canal Lock 7, which was part of the old Miami and Erie Canal system. While there is no public parking, drivers can pull to the side of the road for a closer look at this 19th century relic.
Further down the road, watch for sheep farms and vast stretches of some of Miami County's least populated areas. There's lots of fall color in every direction, mixed in with the fall harvesting activities of local farmers.
Left on Rangeline Road to Union Church Road
Right on Union Church Road to Goode Prairie Preserve