The LCNHT Ohio River Region

The Lewis and Clark Trail’s Ohio River Region

Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania

Before the Expedition ever set off from St. Louis, Lewis and Clark had to make their way to the new frontier. In 2019, Congress approved the Eastern Legacy Expansion of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail (LCNHT). This region and the state owe its namesake to the Seneca people, the largest of the six Native American Nations which comprised the Iroquois Confederacy. It was their word ‘Ohi:yo’, meaning Great river, which inspired the name Ohio. The Ohio River lives up to its namesake as it is considered one of the greatest rivers in the region, covering a 204,000 square mile basin and spanning across 16 states! It feeds life into several different areas; it runs through and borders six states, including Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Furthermore, water drains into tributaries flowing into the Ohio River from New York, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Maryland, Mississippi, Georgia, and Alabama. Today, The Ohio River Basin is home to around 25 million people, or in other words, over ten percent of the US population!

No matter what season it is, this “great river” region provides tourists with a wide range of activities and sights to see. Whether you’re seeking historical or cultural monuments, a spot to relax and appreciate nature, or unique festivals to attend, there is always something to do. For instance, in March, one can visit the Bockfest in Cincinnati, Ohio, to learn about brewing culture. Others can celebrate the town’s springtime splendor, learn more about the First Peoples of Ohio and indigenous culture at the Cleveland Museum, or join an adventurous hike in one of the many scenic trails within the region! Let the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail guide you on a journey of discovery that will educate and charm you!

Ohio River Destination Highlights

Cincinnati

View of Cincinnati at night
View of Cincinnati at night

Located between the Ohio River and the northern Kentucky border, the city of Cincinnati features a broad range of interesting museums, historical landmarks, expansive green parks, and a melting pot of restaurants and pubs that have helped the so-called Queen City stand out among its Midwestern peers. Whether you’re a sports fan, a foodie, a culture vulture, or a nature lover, Cincinnati has hundreds of activities that will get your pulse pounding, heart beating, and taste buds going! 

Pittsburgh 

Pittsburgh skyline
Pittsburgh skyline

Pittsburgh is a city packed to the brim with activities for all interests. For nature enthusiasts, there is Frick Park and Point State Park. For those interested in the fine arts, the Pittsburgh Opera House and the Carnegie Museum of Art. These are just some of the city’s offerings, with countless others just waiting to be discovered. The Steel City also has a lively culinary culture, with numerous restaurants scattered throughout. You can find savory southern cooking at Carmi Soul Food, or you can go to Casbah for some delectable Mediterranean food. This, along with year round events for all types, Pittsburgh is worth the stop while you’re in the area.

Louisville

Mohammed Ali Boulevard in Louisville
Mohammed Ali Boulevard in Louisville

Home to Bluegrass, Mohammed Ali, the Kentucky Derby, and the iconic “Slugger”, Louisville has a lot to offer with its rich history. One can take a trip through time by visiting Old Louisville–the biggest Victorian architecture district in the USA! With its majestic houses spanning from 1880 to 1910, one is sure to be amazed. The city also has a great food scene that has both foreign cuisines and haute cuisine–with over 2,500 restaurants–including seven James Beard Award candidates. Make sure to try out a few regional delicacies in order to get a genuine sense of Louisville like Hot Brown Sandwich or Old Fashioned Cocktail!

Huntington 

Huntington (H-town) West Virginia is the epicenter of activity in the region. One can enjoy trails, lakes and forests around the city, by walking among the trees at Ritter Park, or enjoying the water at Harris Waterfront Park. While visiting Huntington, you can also get a glimpse of the past through history and art in dozens of museums within the town. These include the Huntington Museum of Art , the Museum of Radio and Technology, and the Touma Museum of Medicine. Huntington is a must for your bucket list during your visit along the Lewis and Clark Heritage trail as it has rich history, a vibrant cultural scene, and booming culinary and shopping locations. 

Events in the Ohio River Region

Kentucky Derby Festival

Horse racing in the Kentucky Derby
Horse racing in the Kentucky Derby

From the biggest firework show to steam boat races, over 70 special activities make up the Kentucky Derby Festival! Starting in 1956, this annual festival, which takes place in the two weeks before the Kentucky Derby, has much to offer for adults and children alike! The Run for the Roses of horse racing is what Louisville’s Derby Festival is to neighborhood festivals. The Festival has won the International Festivals & Events Association title for Best Overall Festival five times, making it one of the top events of its sort in the world. It gives enjoyment, thrills, recognition on a global scale, and an unparalleled energy. The focus is on fun and the fantastical when 1.5 million people get together to celebrate spring and the distinctive energy of their city.

Cincinnati Music Festival

Saxophone playing alongside other woodwind and brass instruments
Saxophone playing alongside other woodwind and brass instruments

George Wein, who had staged the first outdoor jazz festival in Newport, Rhode Island, and Cincinnati producer Dion Santangelo created it as the Ohio Valley Jazz Festival in 1962. After working together to organize a jazz festival in French Lick, Indiana, in 1958, the two decided to move it to Cincinnati. Ever since, the Cincinnati Music Festival grew larger annually with bigger names and wider audiences. Today it is one of the most anticipated events 

Picklesburgh

Taking place in Pittsburgh, “Picklesburgh” is exactly what it sounds like. The summer event is a two-day long celebration of everything related to pickles, from pickle beer, pickle costumes, and other various pickle products and activities. The event is fairly new to the city, is consistently growing in size, and is already ranked in the Top Ten Food Festivals List of Attractions of America. If you are in the vicinity of Pittsburgh from June 15th-17th, give the festival a look and see what the excitement is all about. 

Seasons in Ohio River Basin

The seasons of the Ohio River Basin are as varied as the region itself. The winter season of the region arrives with the new year and can reach the point where 40-degree temperatures are the highest of the day, with some areas reaching single, even negative digit lows. This harsher weather fades away during April with the start of spring, with most daily temperatures having 50-degree lows and 70-degree highs. These temperatures, combined with the region being a mountainous region along with residing near the Great Lakes, makes rain a near daily occurrence. 

When summer reaches the region, the temperatures take an uptick, with average low temperatures sitting at the mid-60s and highs near the 90s. This warm weather draws in swabs of people, with June through September being the highest months for the number of tourists. The arrival of fall brings a respite from the summer weather, bringing temperatures down to ranges between the 40s and 60s. The temperatures begin to dip in October, often reaching at and below 30 degrees. With all of this in mind, the most ideal time to visit the region is the seven months of April to October.

What is stopping you? Start planning your adventure through the Ohio River Region on the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail!