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Ohio State Parks

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USA Parks
Southeast Ohio Region
Scioto Trail State Forest
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Scioto Trail State Forest © Lewis K. Cook / Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
A photo taken in the Scioto Trail State Forest in Ohio
Scioto Trail State Forest © dok1 / CC BY 2.0
Scioto Trail State Forest © dok1 / CC BY 2.0
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2731 Stoney Creek Rd
Chillicothe, Ohio   45601-8456
(lat:39.2248 lon:-82.9461) map location

Phone: (740) 663-2538
During World War I, the area that is now Scioto Trail State Forest was used as an artillery range for Camp Sherman. Seventy-five millimeter guns and six-inch howitzers were set up at the mouth of Stoney Creek on the Scioto River and fired at targets in the general area of Stewart and Caldwell Lakes. The purchase of land for the state forest began in 1922, and most of the present forest area was purchased by 1937. The first 9,088 acres cost an average of $7.70 per acre. The forest was named after the Native American trail that ran from what is now Chillicothe to Portsmouth. They called it the Scioto Trail. Routh 23 follows the path of the trail. The major development of the area took place in the 1930s when the Civilian Conservation Corps built most of the roads, lakes and early recreational facilities. The forest now covers 9,390 acres. Scioto Trail State Forest maintains 26 miles of bridle trails for day use by horseback riders and hikers. Mountain bikes are also permitted on these trails. A Mountain Bike Family Campout is held each summer to promote this activity. Six miles of paved roads and 18 miles of gravel roads provide good access to all areas of the forest. Scenic vistas and overlooks on several of the roads attract many visitors year-round, but especially during the fall when the leaves are turning color. Populations of deer, wild turkey, squirrel and grouse encourage many hunters to pursue their favorite sport at Scioto Trail. Mushroom hunting in the spring is attracting more and more visitors to the forest each year. A fire tower and picnic area are located next to the forest office, and are the sites of many reunions and family outings. The 250 acre Scioto Trail State Park consists of two areas in the middle of the state forest. Two 15 acre lakes, a campground, two primitive camping area, picnic areas, trails and a sled hill are all located within the park.
History of the Area
Scioto Trail State Forest, located in Ross and Pike counties in Ohio, has a rich history that dates back thousands of years. The forest is situated in the Appalachian foothills and covers approximately 9,500 acres.

Before European settlers arrived, the region was inhabited by Native American tribes, including the Shawnee and the Adena people. The Adena culture, which thrived from 1000 BC to 200 BC, left behind significant archaeological sites in the area.

In the early 19th century, European settlers began to arrive and establish communities in the region. The forest lands were primarily used for agriculture, with settlers clearing the land for farming and timber.

However, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, extensive logging took place in the area due to the high demand for timber. Logging companies clear-cut large sections of the forest, which led to massive erosion, loss of wildlife habitat, and the degradation of water quality.

To combat these issues and protect the remaining forested areas, the Ohio Division of Forestry was established in 1919, and the state started acquiring land for reforestation. In 1922, the state purchased the first parcel of land that would eventually become Scioto Trail State Forest.

Through reforestation efforts, the state aimed to restore the land's ecological balance and provide sustainable timber resources. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) played a significant role in these efforts during the Great Depression. CCC workers planted trees, built roads, recreation facilities, and trails, and fought forest fires.

In subsequent years, additional purchases and land exchanges expanded the state forest's size. Today, Scioto Trail State Forest comprises mature upland hardwood forests, including oak and hickory, as well as diverse plant and animal species.

The forest also offers recreational opportunities to visitors, including hiking, hunting, fishing, and camping. Several trails, such as the 15-mile Zaleski Backpack Trail and various shorter loop trails, wind through the forest, providing scenic views and opportunities for outdoor exploration.

The history of Scioto Trail State Forest reflects the transformation of the region from Native American lands to agricultural use and the subsequent reforestation efforts to restore the forest's health and ecological integrity. It is now valued as a natural resource and a place for outdoor recreation in Ohio.
GeneralLand, acres9,390
 Hiking Trail, miles1
 Mountain Bike Trails, miles26
 Bridle Trails, miles26
1. Scioto Trail State Park Campground: This campground offers both electric and non-electric sites for tents and RVs, with amenities like picnic tables, fire rings, drinking water stations, restrooms/showers facilities.

2. Caldwell Lake Campgrounds: Located within the state forest itself offering primitive camping options along with fishing opportunities in nearby lakes.

3. Stewart Lake Youth Group Camping Area: Specifically designed for youth groups such as scouts or school trips; it includes a shelter house available by reservation only.

4. Backcountry Camping Areas: For those seeking more solitude can opt to camp at designated backcountry areas where you have to hike:in carrying your own gear including food & water supplies etc., following Leave No Trace principles strictly.

5. Equestrian Primitive Camping Site: A special area is reserved exclusively for horse riders who wish to stay overnight while exploring equestrian trails of the park/forest.
Nearby Accommodations
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Cottages and Cabins
Rustic beauty in a peaceful, clean atmosphere is the secret to this Family Retreat. The serene splendor of Mother Nature is your reward for visiting Walnut Creek. We offer cabin rentals for those who want the convenience with less effort.
6.2 miles from park*
Nearby Vacation Rentals
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The forest offers two lakes, Caldwell and Stewart Lake, where boating is permitted. However, only electric motors are allowed to maintain the tranquility of these areas. Rowboats can be rented at both locations for those who do not have their own equipment or prefer a more leisurely pace on the water.

1. Caldwell Trail: A 2-mile trail that offers a moderate hike through dense forests and along the scenic Scioto River.

2. Church Hollow Nature Preserve Loop: This is an easy, family-friendly loop of about 3 miles with beautiful views over wildflower meadows and hardwood forest areas.

3. Fire Tower Trail: An approximately 5-mile round trip trek to one of Ohio's few remaining fire towers offering panoramic views from its top deck at certain times in the year when it's open for climbing.

4. Stewart Lake Perimeter Pathway: A short but picturesque walk around this tranquil lake which covers roughly half a mile distance; perfect for bird watching or fishing activities too.

5. Chapel Cave Hiking Route: Approximately two-and-a-half-miles long, leading hikers past unique rock formations including Chapel Cave itself - known as "the Devil's Tea Table".

6. Scioto Ridge Trails (North & South): These trails offer challenging hikes across rugged terrain featuring steep inclines/declines, rocky paths and stunning overlooks on both sides of ridge line covering nearly six miles each way.

7. Shawnee State Forest Backpacking Trail System: For more experienced adventurers who are looking forward to multi-day hiking trips within state park boundaries spanning almost forty miles total length divided into North/South loops respectively.

8. Turkey Foot Creek Waterfall Walkway: Short yet rewarding path taking you directly towards hidden waterfall nestled deep inside woods just under quarter mile away from parking lot area.

9. Caldwell Prairie Stroll: Easy walking route showcasing diverse range flora/fauna found throughout prairie ecosystem stretching little less than three:quarters-of-a-mile-long overall.

10. Scioto Bluff Overlook Track: Roughly one-and-half-miles out/back journey ending up high atop bluff providing breathtaking vistas overlooking entire river valley below especially during sunrise/sunset hours making it popular among photographers/nature lovers alike.

Visitor Comments, Memories and Reviews
September 6 Runners Challenge by jumperusa
park review stars; one to five Not for the weak of knee. These trails offer awesome endurance runs with extreme ups and downs. May want to bring the dramamine with you:) The gravel roads offer a less strainuous workout and some provide very senic views. These runs are not for beginners.
June 22 One of my favorite parks. by Scioto Trail fan
park review stars; one to five While there is no shower facility, the park is quite and laid back. Not for those who seek high powered activity but more for us who prefer a slower pace and relaxation. Beautiful lake and good fishing. Ohio should be proud.
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Area Campgrounds
Walnut Creek Campground & Resort
2342 Walnut Creek Road
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Sun Valley Campground
10105 County Road 550
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Area Fishing Related Businesses
Bill's Bait House
4308 State Route 220
Waverly, OH
(740) 947-2542
Bait & Tackle
381 N High St
Chillicothe, OH
(740) 774-1985
D & K Bait & Tackle Dealers
288 W Hydell Rd
Chillicothe, OH
(740) 772-1836
Area Accommodations (over 20 miles away)
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Cottages and Cabins
Trickle Creek offers luxury cabins in Hocking Hills. The cabins are situated on nearly 236 acres of secluded cabin rentals in the deep wooded ravines in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in Hocking County, Ohio.
33.4 miles from park*
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Hidden Cave Cabin - Rockbridge, OH
Cottages and Cabins
Hidden Cave Cabin is an authentic log cabin with 2 bedrooms in a private wooded setting. It is located on one of the most scenic drives in Hocking Hills and just 3.6 miles to Rock House and less than 10 miles to Conkle's Hollow and Old Man's Cave.
27.9 miles from park*

1. Start by heading south on Interstate 71 until you reach Exit 64 for U.S. Route 35.
2. Take Exit 64 and merge onto U.S. Route 35 West.
3. Continue on U.S. Route 35 West for approximately 30 miles.
4. Take the exit for Ohio State Route 772 and turn right onto Ohio State Route 772 East.
5. Stay on Ohio State Route 772 East for about 7 miles, passing through the town of Richmondale.
6. Look for signs indicating the entrance to Scioto Trail State Forest on your left. Turn left at the entrance onto Township Highway 166 and drive for about 2 miles.
7. The entrance to the forest will be on your right.

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Ohio State Parks