Discover the Lowest Point in Ohio

Written by Janet F. Murray
Updated: June 2, 2023
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The landscape of Ohio is a vast, rolling plain that stretches from north to south. This rolling plain covers the highest and lowest point in Ohio. In the state’s northern region lies Lake Erie and its plains which are part of The Great Lakes Plains extending into the southern parts of the state. The Allegheny Plateau makes up most of the eastern half. At the same time, the western territory consists mainly of grassland covered by sand, known locally as the Till Plains. Due to its relatively flat topography, Ohio’s diverse landscapes may not seem evident at first glance. Therefore, let us explore this exciting state, emphasizing the discovery of the lowest point in Ohio and other elements.

Hamilton County is the site of the lowest point in Ohio on the Ohio River, with an elevation of 455 feet.

©Nat Chittamai/

Ohio’s Lowest Point – Ohio River

As one of the smaller states in the U.S., at 44,828 square miles, Ohio ranks 34th in size among all the states. The land area comprises 40,953 square miles, while 3,875 is water. The highest point in Ohio is the lofty 1,549-foot Campbell Hill, while the average elevation is 850 feet above sea level.

Ohio’s lowest point is the Ohio River, which runs along the state’s southern border connecting with the Miami River near Cincinnati. The river has an elevation of 455 feet above sea level, making it the lowest point in Ohio. Despite its low height, the Ohio River is integral to the state’s geography. The river provides a corridor for wildlife and plants and is home to several rare and endangered species. As a result, Ohio’s lowest point is a critical part of the state’s natural heritage.

Where Is the Ohio River Located on a Map?

The Ohio River flows along the state’s southern border with Kentucky, past the bustling metropolis of Cincinnati. The Ohio River also accounts for much of Indiana and Kentucky’s border. The lowest point in Ohio is in Cincinnati.

Geography and Population of Ohio

The State of Ohio is part of the Midwestern region of the United States. Pennsylvania borders it, along with West Virginia to the east, Indiana to the west, Michigan and Lake Erie to the north, and Kentucky to the south. While it may be small, almost 12 million people live in this state. Ohio’s diverse population and geography make it an ideal testing ground for new ideas and products. Also, its central location makes it a key transportation hub.

History of Ohio and Its Lowest Point

Ohio plays a significant role in American history. Ohio’s history is not just about politics and business; it is also about the people who have called the state home. And Ohio has been home to many notable figures, including Presidents William McKinley and Rutherford B. Hayes, groundbreaking inventor Thomas Edison, and legendary baseball player Babe Ruth. Ohioans have shaped the country countless times, and the state’s history is essential to the American story.

The Story Behind the Ohio River Name

The Ohio River is a crucial part of the history and culture of many Native Americans. The indigenous people of the Ohio River formed prehistoric settlements along its valley, and civilizations continued to thrive at different points throughout the river’s distance. Native Americans also used the river for thousands of years as a major transportation and trading route. Its waters have connected communities for centuries. The river got its name from the Seneca language, an Iroquoian word meaning “great water.” The Miami tribe gives another explanation. They call it simply O-Y-O. When asked about the meaning of this word, a Miami chieftain once said it meant, “It raises its Voice to God.” French explorers called it La Belle Riviere – The Beautiful River.

Sunset view over the Ohio River in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The Ohio River has also been known as O-Y-O and La Belle Riviere.

©ESB Professional/

Formation of the Ohio River

The Ohio River is one of America’s most iconic rivers. Formed by the melting ice from glaciers over time, it served as an important way to migrate Native American tribes.

The formation process began two to three million years ago when northbound streams formed rivers that eventually drained into bigger bodies such as the Ohio River. These large waters brought new life while also contributing to drying out old ones.

The present-day Ohio River begins in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers connect. It then flows northwestward into Ohio. The lowest Ohio point also forms several state boundaries, including the Ohio-West Virginia, Ohio-Kentucky, Indiana-Kentucky, and Illinois-Kentucky state lines. As the largest tributary of the Mississippi, the Ohio River empties into the Mississippi River at Cairo, Illinois. It drains an area of 203,900 square miles along its impressive journey. On the other hand, the Ohio river’s valley is relatively narrow, with an average width of one mile from Cincinnati, Ohio, to Louisville, Kentucky.

The Ohio River – A Benefit for Tourism in Ohio

The Ohio River is one of the major attractions in the state, and it’s no wonder why. The river provides a beautiful backdrop for many activities, such as fishing, swimming, and boating. In addition, the river is home to a variety of wildlife, making it a perfect destination for nature lovers. Ohio has become a popular tourist destination worldwide thanks to the river, its lowest point.

In 2021, the tourism industry yielded $46.9 billion in visitor spending and welcomed 219 million visitors into the state. The tourism sector supported 411,000 Ohio full-time, part-time, and seasonal jobs. These are significant increases over 2020 and near 2019’s record tourism numbers when Ohio generated $48 billion in sales and 226 million visits while supporting 429,000 Ohio jobs. The Ohio River, at the state’s lowest point, is just one of the many reasons Ohio is an excellent destination for tourists everywhere.

Ohio River Scenic Byway

The Ohio River Scenic Byway is a 943-mile-long road that runs along the Ohio River from Pennsylvania to Illinois. In Ohio, the byway covers 452 miles and 13 counties. This vast stretch of road is known for its beautiful scenery, including the river views, hills, valleys, and charming river towns. To add to the byway’s charm, it is also home to many cultural resources, such as historical sites and active artist communities.

The Ohio River Scenic Byway is an excellent option if you’re into scenic drives with plenty of things to see and do. Whether traveling by car or motorcycle, you will enjoy the journey. And, with so many different counties to explore, you can easily make a weekend out of it. If you’re looking for an educational, entertaining, and relaxed trip, check out the Ohio River Scenic Byway.

West Region of the Ohio River Byway – Cincinnati

The west region of the Ohio River Byway, Cincinnati is renowned for its awe-inspiring river views. The largest city along Ohio’s River Trail, Cincinnati is filled with opportunities for watching a major league baseball game. Visitors can explore the area as the byway spans a historic bridge (or seven). Alternatively, you may prefer adventuring renaissance-style through art museums, live music performances, and professional theater shows.

Additionally, Cincinnati is home to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, built to represent the story of the Underground Railroad. Visitors to the west region of the Ohio River Byway can also enjoy the many restaurants that line the riverfront, offering everything from BBQ to seafood. You will undoubtedly find something to enjoy in Cincinnati regardless of your interests.


Cincinnati visitors can explore the area, as the byway spans a historic bridge.

©Sean Pavone/

Central Region of Ohio River Byway – Wayne National Park

The Wayne National Forest is a beautiful backdrop for the central region of the Ohio River Byway. With 100,000 acres of public land, there is plenty of room to explore. The forest is full of trails that loop off the road, begging curious explorers to come and take a look. Camp in the wilderness or relax on the beach at Lake Vesuvius. There is something for everyone in the Wayne National Forest in Ohio, near the state’s lowest point, along its main river.

Ohio River – The Lowest Point of Elevation

The Ohio River is not only the lowest point in Ohio – but it’s also one of the most pristine and beautiful places in the state. The Iroquois proclamation “good river” is on point. More importantly, the Ohio River is a significant benefit to the state. It provides scenic views, recreational opportunities, and economic benefits.

Indeed, this incredible geological wonder has a lot to offer visitors. These visitors find the Ohio River worth exploring, from its history to the scenic byways. Additionally, tourists and locals love the quaint little towns, sprawling cities, National Parks, and luxurious vacation destinations along its banks.

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The photo featured at the top of this post is © Corey B Stevens/

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About the Author

I'm a freelance writer with more than eight years of content creation experience. My content writing covers diverse genres, and I have a business degree. I am also the proud author of my memoir, My Sub-Lyme Life. This work details the effects of living with undiagnosed infections like rickettsia (like Lyme). By sharing this story, I wish to give others hope and courage in overcoming their life challenges. In my downtime, I value spending time with friends and family.

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