Storybook Trails at Ohio State Parks
One of the newer and very family-friendly activities at many Ohio state parks are the Storybook Trails. Started in 2019, the Storybook Trails combine literacy with getting out into the great outdoors. Currently, thirteen of Ohio’s state parks have a Storybook Trail. Families with young children will especially enjoy the short hikes and use of children’s books on the trails.
Storybook Trails are trails that range from one-half mile to one mile long. They are easy terrain and go through some of the most scenic parts of the parks that have them. Along the route, panels are placed at child-height with a story told. Each trail features a book that is part of the Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library. The text and illustrations from the book are featured on each panel, and the story ends by the end of the trail. In addition, each page has “action steps” for readers to do between pages. These help make the hike seem even shorter than it already is.
On top of the trail and story, each Storybook Trail includes a book exchange at the entrance. Donations of books are accepted, or you can take books from the exchange you are interested in. This addition creates another avenue to encourage literacy to the children that take part in the hikes.
Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library
The Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library is the spearhead for the Storybook Trails at Ohio State Parks. The Governor’s Imagination Library has a partnership with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, which mails a new book to young children signed up for the program each month until they turn five years old. The program is free for families, and is financed through donations. The Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library has also received funding from the Ohio General Assembly in the past. Planned future trails already have funding set aside, adding to this program of trails.
Find a Storybook Trail
Use this map to find a Storybook Trail near you. The trails are all over the Buckeye State, and not just at state parks. Each year, more locations add to the library of trails Ohio has. The state parks that currently house Storybook Trails are Alum Creek, Barkcamp, Burr Oak, Dillon, East Fork, Great Seal, John Bryan, Mary Jane Thurston, Maumee Bay, Mosquito Lake, Shawnee, Sycamore, and Wingfoot Lake. Find and enjoy a trail near you!
Ben’s Thoughts: I love the Storybook Trails! My kids are currently at great ages for them (7 and 4). The trails make for easy hiking, and the kids are able to stop and take breaks at each page panel. On top of reading the book and seeing the pictures of the pages, my children love doing the action steps at the bottom of each page. These include things like, “flap like a bird to the next page,” or “look for what could be three animal homes on your way to the next page.” If you have young children visiting a park with you, the Storybook Trails are definitely worth the time!