Off roading is a popular activity throughout the region.

When you picture a Jeep breaking free of the roads and traversing the trails where four-door sedans won’t tread, what kind of landscape comes to mind?

Perhaps you think of the deserts of the Southwest, where the tires kick up sand and dust, or maybe the Big Sky Country of the Intermountain West, bounding up and down the hills in what may be America at its most picturesque. You may even picture a Jeep twisting and turning through the forests of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula — though the less said about Michigan here, the better.

Ohio may not conjure up those same images, but the Buckeye State is still a haven for outdoor enthusiasts seeking some thrills off the beaten path. Eastern Ohio’s position along the edge of Appalachia makes it a scenic and exciting setting for off-road excursions. Plan a trip to one of the best off-roading destinations in Ohio and take in the excitement of driving beyond the highways.

Monday Creek OHV System

Southeast of Columbus lies Wayne National Forest, which boasts more than 250,000 miles of parkland in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, the range that separates the Midwest from the South and Northeast. There’s much more to Ohio than cornfields, as this reserve proves, with its miles of off-highway vehicle trails for Jeeps, mountain bikes, and ATVs to explore. It may be a bit of a trip from north central Ohio, but it’s well worth the journey.

Hanging Rock OHV System

Further south in Wayne National Forest — closer to Ashland, Kentucky, than to Ashland County — is Hanging Rock, a region along the Kentucky and West Virginia borders where strip-mining for natural resources ravaged the land but left behind exciting topographic challenges for off-roaders. Dirt paths and ponds combine for a fun but muddy experience.

Please bear in mind that the Wayne National Forest itself does not allow Jeep use on any of its trails.

Heiney Farm

Funny name, serious fun: this private plot of land is open to off-roaders who plan group excursions in advance. The farmland straddles wide-open fields and light wooded areas, providing challenges and contrast for off-road drivers. With campsites available as well, it’s the perfect place to take advantage of everything your Jeep can do, from tackling the trails to towing a camper for staying overnight.

Southington Offroad Park

Midway between Akron and the Pennsylvania state line is one of the best off-roading destinations in Ohio: Southington Offroad Park, which features a full range of trails for novices, intermediate off-roaders, and veterans of all things wild. No mountain bikes or ATVs here — this is reserved for Jeep drivers to hit the trails and do some camping afterward.

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