A Winter Road Trip Through Southern Ohio


Story & Photos by Matt Bayman

This winter road trip through Southern Ohio, and along the Ohio River, visits three covered bridges, ancient petroglyphs, impressive flood wall murals, wonderful small towns with antique shops and ma and pa restaurants, and Hocking Hills, which is stunningly beautiful this time of year, especially when a little snow is in the forecast. 
The following 405-mile loop trip also passes a number of unique and colorful roadside attractions and shows a side of Ohio that many people never get to see. It can be taken over a weekend, or during the week, and there are plenty of cabins, bed and breakfasts and hotels along the way.
Some of highlights of this trip include:

  • Otway Covered Bridge

  • Leo Petroglyphs

  • Downtown Waynesville

  • Old Man’s Cave in Hocking Hills

  • The mighty Gallipolis Lock & Dam

  • Serpent Mound

  • The Ohio River Scenic Byway

  • The antique shops of Portsmouth

  • The famous Hickie’s Hamburger Inn in New

  • Scottown Covered Bridge, the southern-most covered bridge in Ohio

  • Bob Evans Farm Restaurant Museum

  • The U.S. Grant Bridge on the Ohio River

  • Fine dining at The Ridge Inn Restaurant
    And more…

    Note: The directions on the right side of the screen are meant to be driven counter-clockwise. “Points of Interest” are located in the order they appear on the drive. Points of Interest are places, businesses, restaurants and attractions found very close to the main route, but that sometimes require a couple of turns to get to.

Melting and freezing water and tall gorges and overhangs throughout Hocking Hills State Park, make for some amazing views this time of year. Above is Old Man's Cave. Below is Cedar Falls, followed by the painted flood wall murals in Portsmouth and the Circleville pumpkin water tower.

Directions & Points of Interest
Total Mileage = 405 miles

Directions are in black, with the mileage for each leg of the trip in red. Points of Interest are places that can be visited during that particular leg of the trip. The underlined Points of Interest are linked for more information. The map above is a rough look at the complete route. Make sure bring your own map and a cellphone. 

Starting Point: Troy

- Take Interstate 75 South to Ohio Route 73 in Springboro

(35 miles)

- Take Ohio Route 73 South to Portsmouth (103 miles)

Points of Interest
- Lovely’s Farm Market & Country Bakery in Springboro
- The Silver Spur Western Store in Waynesville
- Fox Hollow Rodeo (every Saturday night, year-round)
- The Secret Garden of Waynesville
- Downtown Waynesville
- Cobblestone Village Café & Village
- Waynesville Antique Mall 
- Caesar Creek State Park & Visitor Center
- Fallsville Wildlife Area (south of New Vienna)
- Hillsboro Courthouse (Golden Dome)
- After Hillsboro, the scenery becomes peaceful
- Serpent Mound Historical Site
- Chalet Nivale Nature Preserve (located on T-126D off of Route 73)
- Otway Covered Bridge (follow signs in town, west on Route 348)
- Ohio & Erie Canal Lock #50 in West Portsmouth
- Portsmouth Floodwall Murals
- U.S. Grant Bridge
- A Ghost In The Attic Antiques, 518 2nd St., Portsmouth
- Packrats, 534 2nd St., Portsmouth
- Hidden Treasures, 540 2nd St., Portsmouth

Portsmouth to Scottown (46 miles)
Take US Route 52 East to Ohio Route 93 North - Continue East on Route 141, which turns into 217  

Points of Interest
- Hickie’s Hamburger Inn, 3800 Rhodes Ave., New Boston
- The Depot, (fine dining) 124 Bobby Bare Blvd, Ironton
- The Lawrence County Courthouse in downtown Ironton
- Ohio Bicentennial Barn on Route 217
- Scottown/Pleasant Ridge Covered Bridge (southern-most surviving covered bridge in Ohio)
- Scottown Monty’s Pizza & Mini, 11354 OH-217, Scottown

Scottown to Gallipolis (32 miles)
Route 217 East and North on Ohio Route 7 

Points of Interest
- Route 7 is known as the Ohio River Scenic Byway
- Crown City Wildlife Area (beautiful views from the hills directly above the Ohio River)
- Gallipolis Lock & Dam
- Mound Hill Cemetery, 1880s cemetery with Revolutionary War soldiers and French 500 settlers. Located on State Route 141
- Raccoon Creek County Park, State Route 775
- Laurel Valley Creamery (raw milk cheese farm), 930 Laurel Road, Gallipolis

Gallipolis to Leo Petroglyphs (41 miles)  
US 35 North to Route 28/ Sour Run Road, then follow signs

Points of Interest
- Bob Evans Farm Restaurant Museum
- Jackson, Ohio
- Leo Petroglyphs

Leo Petroglyphs to Hocking Hills State Park (28 miles)
Route 30 North to Route 12 North (Route 12 will turn into Route 31 and Route 18 and Route 249) In South Bloomingville, head East on Route 664 into Hocking Hills
(NOTE: If you don’t feel comfortable on these back roads, look to take State Route 93 North into Hocking Hills)

Points of Interest At Hocking Hills
- Old Man’s Cave
- Ash Cave
- Cedar Falls
- The Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls
- Conkle’s Hollow (tough hike, amazing views)

Hocking Hills to Miami County - the Scenic Route (120 miles) Route 56 West to Interstate 70 near Springfield

Points of Interest
- Laurelville
- The Ridge Inn Restaurant (fine dining), 16178 Pike St., Laurelville
- Hocking Hill Visitor’s Center in Laurelville
- Amish Furniture Ohio, Sunnybrook, 13765 S. Perry Road, Kingston
- The Ted Lewis Museum, 133 W. Main St., Circleville
- Pumpkin water tower in Circleville
- Gibby’s Eatery and Sports Bar, 126 W. Main St., Circleville
- Scioto River in Circleville
- Larry’s Pizza Wings, 36 S. London St., Mt. Sterling
- London, Ohio, antique shops, ma and pa restaurants, and small town charm.