A City Oasis

Riverside Natural Area shares an unassuming entrance with Fairfield’s Joyce Park. On a pretty November Saturday, you’ll drive in and see the remote control airplane enthusiasts skillfully flying on your right and passionate youth football players practicing on your left. It’s chilly, but unusually bright for a November day. In Butler County, you learn to take the pretty days and bundle up to get a little winter hiking in whenever you can.

Riverside outlook

Photo: Instagram @onemileaday


Unlike a typical, more manicured park, the Riverside Natural Area lets you feel like you are stepping out of the towns and cities of Butler County. Tall native grasses and bristly coned rushes rustle on either side of the simple, mown-grass pathways, which are all numbered to correspond with the map of the area located at the entrance. In the center, where all the paths meet, is an enormous hill called the observation mound. From the top of the mound, you can see far across the landscape, but even from that high up, you still feel like you are out in the wilderness, peering off toward the Great Miami River that runs nearby.

Riverside Natural Area dog

Photo: Instagram @tootinterror


While the space is serene, simple even, the work that has gone into the Riverside Natural Area is amazing. Troy and Kathy Schwable, a local couple in Hamilton, have made it their mission to restore these acres of local riverside land to a state where residents and visitors alike can come to spend time running and walking there. Local wildlife can find sanctuary there, and even in November you’ll see birds and squirrels aplenty. Their goal was to create an area that was a safe and abundant place for nature to thrive but which was still accessible to all who wanted to enjoy a little walk on the wild side.

The view from atop the Observation Mound is beautiful, a real vantage point that doesn’t overlook neighborhoods or city streets, but rather just raw nature. They also invest in efforts like planting new native trees, river clean-ups, and hosting birdwatching groups. They’re working toward their first nature center where programs can be held in the future. As soon as next year, look for guided tours and educational events to be held in their space and throughout the Nature Center.

Riverside Bird watching

Photo: Instagram @megnichon


I spent two hours just exploring, not minding the chill in the air because the area was beautiful and I occasionally got the fun of seeing a big model plane circling nearby. My day at the Riverside Natural Area gave me great insight into why these 150 acres of beautiful habitat are both important to the wildlife of Butler County and a hidden gem for those who visit Butler County. Want to get away from it all? Find the solitude and natural beauty you seek at Riverside Natural Area.


Riverside Natural Area

2541 River Road

Hamilton, Ohio 45015



Laura Leavitt blog bio