A Hike with Friends to Brighten Dreary Days {Favorite Local Spots}


“There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.” – Alfred Wainwright

I’ve probably spent more time outdoors in the past year than any in my adult life. The fresh air, freedom to move, and additional play space breathed life into my kids and me during a pandemic that shut down nearly everything else.

We explored new parks. We watched construction trucks raise buildings. We felt the roar of trains on a track 30 feet away. We gawked as small planes took off and soared over our heads at the local airport.

An-y-thing to get out of the house.


The outdoors kept friend dates alive, too. We gathered in a distanced circle on my patio for Bible study, a glass of wine, or a simple face-to-face chat.


As winter crept in with frigid temps and biting winds, we hunkered down and kept tiny hands and faces warm at home.

The days began to drag. Zoom fatigue was real. Our once-active bodies heard the siren call of hibernation.

It was time to do something.

I finally heeded the advice of my Eagle Scout husband and geared up to conquer the cold. Down parka, long underwear, wool socks, and waterproof boots. Then I texted a couple friends to see if they were feeling desperate brave enough to battle below-freezing temps for a winter hike.

They said, “I’ll get my coat.”

We chose to trek beyond our usual paved, stroller-friendly paths and onto rough dirt trails we had yet to explore. Our first stop was Johnson Nature Preserve in Montgomery. The hike was muddy, full of bare trees and fallen logs – and the best decision I made all week.

As we rambled single-file through the barren space, we talked and we listened. We told of the trials driving us to exhaustion in this season – and the surprising joys that led to moments of gratitude. There is something about walking alongside a person – with eyes focused on dodging holes and branches – that strips us of pretense and opens us up.


The connection with nature and other humans was rejuvenating. The cold air kept us moving and our blood pumping, and our gear kept us warm enough to forge ahead for over an hour.

In the summer, these trails are known for wildflowers, lush trees and running streams. Their absence stole nothing from our experience. We were together, as together as we could manage.

We could’ve waited until it got warmer. But we decided to breathe life and connection into this desolate season with the help of long johns and a walk in the outdoors.

If you’re looking for a new hike with friends, visit alltrails.com. I’ve lived here my whole life and still discovered new-to-me trails: Kelly Nature Preserve in Miamiville, French Park in Amberley, and Red Bird Hollow in Terrace Park (next on our list). If you’re bringing the family, check out 10 Places in Cincinnati for a Family Hike.


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