A Winter Hike in Lancaster Ohio

view from rising park in lancaster ohio

We set out on a sunny January day in search of adventure, or at least to get outside for some fresh air. We decided to visit Rising Park for our winter hike in Lancaster, just about 40 minutes from the capital city.

Lancaster Rising Park

Rising Park is part of Lancaster Parks and Recreation. The main draw to the park is Mount Pleasant, a sandstone bluff that is 250 feet high . Native people in the area referred to the bluff as “Standing Stone.”

Sign at the entrance to Rising Park in Lancaster, Ohio
Sign at the entrance to Rising Park in Lancaster, Ohio

While some climbers have scaled the face of the bluff, we decide to stick to the trail. Though we’re enticed by the idea of exploring a cave, known to locals as the “Devil’s Kitchen,” there have been falls. The threat of ice on the rocks combined with my lack of experience leads us to play it safe.

In addition to hiking trails, Rising Park features a number of additional recreational opportunities. The park has six tennis and six pickleball courts on site, as well as a ball field. There’s a large playground area, as well as shelter houses, picnic tables and onsite restrooms.

A view of the pond at Rising Park in Lancaster, Ohio during our winter hike.
The large pond in the middle of the park is visible from the first leg of the trail. During the summer months, there is a fountain in the center.

At the center of the park is a large pond, divided by a patch of land into two sections. Frozen over now, the pond features a large fountain and fishing in the summer months. A large gazebo sits next to the pond on the far side. It’s a popular venue for weddings as well as for photos.

A Winter Hike in Lancaster, Ohio

On this winter day it’s a balmy 45 degrees, with just a scattering of ice and snow still on the ground. The entry to the trail head was blanketed in snow and still quite a bit slick. Beyond that, the trail was clear.

The trailhead at Rising Park in Lancaster, Ohio. The start of the trail is covered in snow.
At the start of the trail there is a bit of snow on the ground. The ground there is slick but clears away as we head up the hill.

The hike is a somewhat strenuous uphill trek. Though Natalie could have made the entire climb without stopping, I find it necessary to rest a few times on the way up. There are stone benches at several points on the trail, marked with their year of installation as 1910. Though they look inviting, I imagine the stone to be pretty cold.

As we continue up the hill we happen on a group of deer. There are several does and a few fawns; seven in total. They don’t run, but don’t approach us either. We stand still for a few moments, us observing them and vice versa. It’s a peaceful moment, but eventually they turn their gaze and go back to foraging. We continue up the trail.

We make a turn toward the top. There are large outcrops of sandstone on both sides. I’m getting a little more tired at this point and keep promising myself “we’re almost there.”

Large outcroppings of sandstone appear along the trail as we approach the top of Mount Pleasant.
As we near the top of Mount Pleasant, there are large outcroppings of sandstone.

Nearly to the top, the ground turns rocky. It’s a bit slippery as the sandstone is wet. I pick my way back and forth between the slick rocks and the set of stairs carved into the hill. Then, just past a few trees, the trail opens into a magnificent view of the city.

Rising Park Provides a Phenomenal View

The city of Lancaster, population 40 thousand, lies at our feet. I’ve been to this particular summit before, in the summer and again in the fall. The view is beautiful in any season. During the summer it is a lush green carpet of tree tops interspersed with home and businesses. And during autumn, perhaps the best season for visiting Mount Pleasant, the trees are bright with oranges and reds.

A panoramic view from the top of Mount Pleasant at Rising Park in Lancaster, Ohio.
A panoramic view from the top of Mount Pleasant.

But on this January day, every church, school and home is visible below us courtesy of the bare winter trees. Natalie and I stop for a few moments looking out over the landscape, picking out familiar buildings. The best view is just to our right, across the street from Rising Park. The barns and buildings of the Fairfield County Fairgrounds stretch out ahead of us. We point out the famous round barn and the grandstand near the harness track.

The walk back down is decidedly easier. However, a brief loss of focus caused an unfortunate slide in the mud for me. I wasn’t hurt thank goodness, but got to finish our walk covered in mud.

If you are considering a winter hike in Ohio, I highly recommend Rising Park. And no matter where you’re hiking this season, be prepared. Wear appropriate footwear, hiking boots are preferred. Consider doubling up on socks if you’ll be out in the elements for long. And of course, you’ll need a coat, hat and some warm gloves. Hike with a buddy if at all possible and be certain to take a phone in case of emergency.

More Ohio Adventures

If you’re looking for more adventures in Ohio, check out our day trips page. There’s so much to do in the Buckeye State, get out there and explore.

Thanks for FindingOhio with us this winter.. And, as always, we appreciate you sharing our content on social media.

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