Accessible from Mt. Airy and Westwood, Mt. Airy Forest’s 1,459 acres includes miles of hiking trails and bridle trails (located off Diehl Road) for horseback riders. Mt. Airy has Ohio’s only wheelchair accessible public treehouse, an enclosed dog park and disc golf.
Mt. Airy Arboretum’s specialty gardens, gazebos and picturesque lake are a favorite wedding site. The 30 acres features magnificent collection of trees, shrubs and flowers, displayed alongside the beauty of nature. Mt. Airy has two forest lodges and three picnic areas that can be reserved, as well as two council areas for organized youth group overnight camping. Or just come for a picnic at one of 23 picnic areas within the park, complete with tables, charcoal grills and swing sets.
The Arboretum serves students, gardeners and homeowners as a testing and observation area for plant growth, habit and hardiness of plants in the Cincinnati area. Initially conceived in 1930, many individuals and organizations have contributed to the development and preservation of Mt. Airy Forest and Arboretum. You will see some of their names honoured in special plantings, particularly in the garden areas.
Mt. Airy Forest
5083 Colerain Ave.
Cincinnati, OH 45223
- Picnic Area
- Rental Shelter/Picnic Area
- Rental Pavilion/Lodge
- Gardens/Botanical Features
- Disc Golf
- Hiking Trail
- Bridle Trail
- Dog Park
- Comfort Station/Restrooms
- Significant Natural Areas
- Historic Feature/Public Art
Mt. Airy Forest (Mt. Airy, Westwood)
At almost 1,500 acres, Mt. Airy Forest is Cincinnati’s largest park. It was established in 1911 out of several unproductive farms, and was the first municipal reforestation in America. A crew of young African Americans were employed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (a federal jobs program during the Great Depression) to build service roads, the large check dams in West Fork Creek and—along with more skilled laborers working for the Works Progress Administration—most of the shelter, service and restroom buildings. They also planted more than one million trees! Each recreational area typically included a shelter, comfort station, picnic tables and a water source, either a fountain or a pump. Some of Mt. Airy Forest’s structures include:
- Arboretum: Built in 1953, this Carl Freund-designed building reflects his admiration for Frank Lloyd Wright, with its low, cantilevered roof and asymmetrical entrance features. The entrance and surrounding garden were restored in recent years.
- Garden Totem: Located in the Arboretum parking lot, this abstract sculpture of stainless steel by Jim Quigley was inspired by Japanese kimonos and landscape forms. It was installed in 1994.
- Blue Spruce Open Shelter: This small building of ashlar stone and heavy timber framing, supported by peeled timber posts and heavy stone piers, is an excellent example of Rustic Parks architecture.
- Pine Ridge Lodge: This lodge is an ingenious adaptation of an 1869 farmhouse. Its renovation by CCC crews was completed in 1936 and according to a design by Freund. It’s a two story building with fieldstone walls and a steeply gabled slate roof.
- Oval Open Shelter: Set in an oval near the center of Mt. Airy Forest, this open shelter has stone corner piers, natural cedar-log framing and a hipped roof with wood shingles. Its interior has a natural stone floor and is enclosed by a peeled cedar-log balustrade. CCC-built in 1931, it’s one of Parks’ best examples of Rustic architecture.
- Furnas Hill Open Shelter: Another good example of Rustic architecture is this open shelter featuring massive stone corner piers, peeled cedar-log framing, a gabled roof with wood shingles and exposed rafter ends.
- Oak Ridge Lodge: This recreational complex designed by Freund and built in 1948 consists of a main lodge, a circular seating area, a terrace and pyramidal-roofed open shelter.
- Maple Ridge Lodge: Frank Lloyd Wright’s influence is again evident in this lodge built in 1956, with its use of rustic stone, overall geometric form and low overhanging roof. Its large interior assembly room features a massive fireplace, and the lodge itself is set upon the crest of a hill.
- McFarlan Open Shelter: Designed by H. Brunke and built by CCC crews, this stone and timber-frame shelter also features rough hewn oak posts and beams. Its interior has fireplaces and corner oak seats.