Trail Review: Shale Hollow Park, Delaware, Ohio

My daughter and I discovered Shale Hollow Park in Delaware during the pandemic, and it’s been one of our favorite parks ever since.  Though it’s now just down the street from neighborhoods and shopping and restaurants, it feels like the middle of nowhere.  There’s a beautiful creek running through it that we’ve waded through and skipped rocks in time and time again (though, full disclosure: we’ve seen snakes there on more than one occasion), and it has such stunning shale cliffs surrounding it—along with a natural play area.  When my daughter did online school, we’d often go there for science lessons and art lessons—and a little bit of PE credit, too. 

Still, the trails at Shale Hallow aren’t necessarily the place you’d go for a casual stroll—or for a nice long walk.  There are two different trails, but they’re both quite short—just around a mile each—and unpaved.  The terrain is pretty challenging, too.  You’ll find yourself climbing up and down steep sandy hills and possibly—if you’re not paying attention or if you’re as prone to clumsiness as I am—tripping over roots. 

If you’re up for the challenge, though, you’ll take in some pretty beautiful scenery.  The trails meander through wooded areas along the sides of cliffs that overlook the water before ending up in open grasslands and then curving back around into the woods.  Along the way, you’ll meet plenty of wildlife and see a variety of different trees and plant life—some of which is marked with descriptive placards.

The trails at Shale Hollow are usually quite peaceful.  While the main park areas are often visited by plenty of families, you’ll run into just a few other people on the trails.  Though one of the trails passes by the traffic-heavy Highway 23 and the other borders on a new neighborhood, there isn’t a whole lot of noise, either.  During sunny summer days, though, you might dread the grassy parts of the trails—like my daughter always has—because it can get incredibly hot out there in the open. 

Though I love the scenery on the Shale Hollow trails—and my daughter loves bringing Crocs for some after-walk creeking—this park is definitely better for a short hike with the family than it is for high-mileage walks.  But it’s a good option to keep in your trail list for the times when you just want a change of scenery—and you’re up for a bit of a challenge.

– A variety of scenery
– Peaceful
– Plenty of wildlife
– Rarely busy
– Natural setting with a creek for splashing in when you finish your walk

– Shorter trails
– Gravel/dirt paths
– Challenging terrain
– Grassland areas can get hot on sunny days

You can learn more about Shale Hollow Park on the Preservation Parks website.


Kristin has been hitting the trail (or the treadmill) for a walk almost every day for the past several years, and she recently completed her first half marathon. She loves sunny fall days, cushy walking shoes, and coconut caramel iced coffee from Dunkin.

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