Understanding the spatial distribution of environmental amenities requires consideration of social and biogeophysical factors, and how they interact to produce patterns of environmental justice or injustice. In this study, we explicitly account for terrain, a key local environmental factor, while assessing whether tree canopy is distributed equally in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. We conducted separate analyses for all land and for residential land only. For all land, terrain alone accounted for 59% of the variation in tree canopy cover. In our spatial autoregressive model, socioeconomic variables describing race, wealth, and education did not explain significant variation in canopy cover. In other words, terrain is the primary factor related to tree canopy in Cincinnati. In our analysis of residential land only, terrain was again the dominant predictor of tree canopy cover, and percent black population and median home value were also positive, significant explanatory variables. Tree canopy was abundant in two hilly areas with dissimilar socioeconomic characteristics, with proportionally larger black populations in the western hills and higher home values in the eastern hills. In summary, the overwhelming importance of terrain may obscure subtler patterns between tree canopy and socioeconomic variables. Although general social processes may drive environmental injustice across disparate cities, our study highlights the need to account for local biogeophysical context.