John Bryan SP

About this Location

Much of the history of John Bryan State Park is “written in the rocks” of the Little Miami River gorge. Entering the area at Clifton, at 980 feet above sea level, the Little Miami drops 130 feet through layer upon layer of bedrock. Each layer has a story to tell of times when the area was covered by warm, shallow seas or was a part of a muddy river delta or was scoured by tons of slow-moving glacial ice. Each layer has its own characteristics as well. Some of the shale layers are easily worn away by the forces of erosion, causing undercutting in the cliff face. The more erosion-resistant dolomite or limestone rocks above are weakened by this undercutting and large “slump blocks” fall away, creating unusual rock formations including Steamboat Rock. Springs feeding small waterfalls and cascades are common.

The glaciers did not only affect the land forms, they also had an effect on the vegetation found here. As the last glacier retreated and the climate warmed, the cool shaded recesses of the gorge valley provided a suitable habitat for several Canadian plant species: Canada yew, redberry elder, mountain maple, arborvitae and even a few hemlocks.

More than 100 different trees and shrubs have been identified in the park. More than 340 species of wildflowers grow wild here. Snow trillium, Virginia bluebells, bellworts, wild ginger, Dutchman’s breeches, Jack-in-the-pulpit and wild columbines are only a few to be seen in the park. The dominating trees are oaks and maples, but large numbers of sycamores and cottonwoods can be found along the river. Wildlife is also abundant in the park. For instance, more than 90 different varieties of birds live in or visit the park area during the year. To fully appreciate the beauty of John Bryan, one needs to experience it during all four seasons.

Notable Trails

John Bryan State Park Trails
Ten hiking trails traverse the park:
Big Furnace Trail (Camp Trail) – 1 mile
Quarry Loop Trail – 0.47 miles
North Rim Trail – 2.7 miles
Pitt-Cinci Stage Coach Trail – 1.3 miles
Poplar Trail – 0.1 mile
Ridge Trail – 1.5 miles
South Gorge Trail – 1.2 miles
Orton Memorial Trail – 0.4 miles
Gorge Trail (John L. Rich Trail) – 1.3 miles
Narrows Trail (John L. Rich Trail)- 0.6 miles

One hiking trail also allows bicycles:
Arboretum Trail (Observatory Trail) – 1.2 miles

Adjacent to the park, Clifton Gorge State Nature Preserve also offers additional hiking trails which can be accessed from the park, however, pets are not allowed in the state nature preserve.

Mountain bikes are permitted on 9.7 miles of interconnected single-use and multi-use trails.

Descriptions and maps of hikes on trails in John Bryan State Park are on the AllTrails website.


  • Restrooms on site

  • Wheelchair accessible trail

  • Entrance fee

  • Roadside viewing

Content from John Bryan State Park webpage