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Ohio State Parks

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USA Parks
Southeast Ohio Region
Shawnee State Forest
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Spring Hike ©
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13291 US-52
West Portsmouth, Ohio   45663
(lat:38.7043 lon:-83.0914) map location

Phone: (740) 858-6685
Once inhabited by the Shawnee Indians, Shawnee State Forest came into existence in 1922 with the purchase of 5,000 acres of land which had been cut over for timber and ravaged by fire. During that same year, land acquisition was begun for the Theodore Roosevelt Game Preserve. In the 1930s, six Civilian Conservation Corps camps were located in the forest. During this period, many of the roads were constructed in the then nearly inaccesible area. Many other accomplishments resulted, including five small lakes that were built to serve as water supplies for the camps. Following the creation of the Department of Natural Resources in 1949, the recreational facilities at Roosevelt Lake were transferred to the Division of Parks. The Roosevelt Game Preserve, by a 1951 agreement between the Division of Forestry and Wildlife, became a part of the forest. Shawnee State Forest, also called "The Little Smokies of Ohio," has developed into the largest of the 20 state forests, with over 60,000 acres. While the Forest is a fantastic recreation feature in Southern Ohio, you should not be surprised to see other activities occurring. The Forest is a working forest. It is managed to provide a variety of multiple uses on a sustained yield basis. Timber harvesting, tree planting, wildlife habitat, forestry research, watershed and soil protection, and production of tree seeds are all in a day's work for Forest Employees and many local residents. During the spring and fall forest fire danger periods, state forest crews detect and suppress wildfires that occur on state and private lands within the surrounding protection area. Nearly 8,000 acres of the forest have been designated as wilderness. This minimzes human influence and allows the land to return to a natural condition. Timber management activities and public motorized travel have been eliminated in the area. In the mid-1800s and early 1900s, building stone was quarried from Vastine and Cabbage Patch hollows. The stone was moved by railroad to the Ohio River and loaded on barges. Much of the stone was used in the construction of buildings in Cincinnati.

History of the Area
Shawnee State Forest is located in southern Ohio and has a rich history that dates back centuries. Here is a brief overview of its history:

1. Native American Influence: The area where Shawnee State Forest is located was historically inhabited by various Native American tribes, including the Shawnee people. The Shawnee tribe, known for their hunting and trading skills, used the forest as a valuable resource for food, shelter, and other necessities.

2. European Settlement: The land of Shawnee State Forest was part of the Northwest Territory, which was ceded by Native American tribes to the United States government after the American Revolution. European settlers began moving into the region in the late 18th century, establishing farms and communities.

3. Logging Era: In the late 19th century, commercial logging became a significant industry in the area. Large tracts of forest were clear-cut for timber, which was primarily used for building materials, fuel, and other purposes. This logging activity had a profound impact on the forest ecosystem.

4. Reforestation Efforts: Recognizing the importance of preserving forests and combating deforestation, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), a New Deal program established during the Great Depression, played a significant role in reforesting the area in the 1930s. The CCC workers planted millions of trees and introduced various conservation practices that helped rehabilitate the land.

5. Shawnee State Forest Establishment: Shawnee State Forest was established in 1922 as Ohio's first state forest. The initial acquisition was small, but subsequent expansions over the years increased its size. Today, it covers over 63,000 acres, making it the largest state forest in Ohio.

6. Outdoor Recreation: With its diverse landscapes and natural beauty, Shawnee State Forest has become a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. The forest offers a range of recreational activities, including hiking, camping, fishing, hunting, horseback riding, and birdwatching. The Shawnee State Park, located within the forest, provides amenities such as cabins, a lake, and a swimming beach.

7. Wildlife Conservation: Shawnee State Forest is also known for its efforts in wildlife conservation. The forest provides habitat for various species, including white-tailed deer, wild turkey, bobcat, and numerous bird species. The Ohio Division of Wildlife, along with other organizations, works to manage and protect the forest's wildlife.
GeneralLand, acres62,583
 Nearby Wildlife Area, acres8,000
 Backpack Trail, miles60
 Bridle Trails, miles75
CampingHorsemen Campsitesyes
 Walk-In Campsites, #8
1. Shawnee State Park Campground: This campground offers 107 electric sites and a shower house with flush toilets, as well as pet-friendly options.

2. Roosevelt Lake & Turkey Creek Camping Areas: These are primitive camping areas within the forest that offer picnic tables, fire rings and latrines but no electricity or running water.

3. Bear Lake Horse Camp: A campsite specifically for those who want to bring their horses along on their trip into nature; it has hitching posts, horse stalls and access to bridle trails in addition to basic amenities like pit latrines.

4. Iron Ridge Campground: Located near Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant Wildlife Area offering both RV hookups (electricity) and tent campsites with restrooms available nearby.

5. Oak Hill Equestrian Primitive Group Site: Another option for equestrians looking for group accommodations while exploring Ohio's largest state forest by horseback.

6. Backcountry Camping: For experienced backpackers there is also an opportunity of backcountry camping at designated spots throughout the park's extensive trail system which includes over 60 miles of hiking trails.

7. The Lodge At Scioto Trail State Park: If you prefer more comfort during your stay then this lodge might be ideal choice providing modern rooms overlooking beautiful lake scenery just short drive away from Shawnee Forest.
Nearby Vacation Rentals
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In Ohio, there are several boating options available within a large state forest. The Roosevelt and Turkey Creek Lakes offer opportunities for rowing or motorized boats with 10 horsepower motors or less. Canoeing is also popular on the Scioto River which runs through this area of the state. Additionally, boat rentals including canoes and kayaks are offered at various locations throughout the park.

Shawnee State Forest is located near Greenup, Lucasville and Portsmouth

1. Backpack Trail: A 36-mile loop trail that offers a challenging hike through the forest's rugged terrain, featuring steep climbs and descents.

2. Day Hike Loop: This is an approximately 7 miles long section of the backpacking trail designed for day hikes with scenic views of Shawnee State Forest.

3. Lookout Trail: An easy half mile walk to one of Ohio's highest points offering panoramic views over Scioto River Valley and beyond.

4. Lampblack Run Nature Preserve Trails: These trails wind around wetlands, streams, mature forests providing opportunities to spot wildlife like deer or wild turkey in their natural habitat.

5. Fire Tower Road/Trail: It leads hikers up towards an old fire tower which provides stunning aerial view across vast expanses of woodland when climbed.

6. Copperhead Fire Tower Area: Offers several short hiking loops near Copperhead Lake including access to picnic areas perfect for family outings.

7. Church Hollow Nature Preserve: Features two moderate difficulty trails winding through dense hardwoods leading down into Church Hollow Creek valley.

8. Roosevelt Game Reserve: Provides multiple interconnected paths allowing visitors explore diverse habitats from mixed pine:hardwood stands on ridge tops down into bottomland hardwood swamps along creeks.

9. Bear Cave area: Includes both Bear cave nature preserve as well as additional surrounding networked footpaths exploring rocky outcrops & cliffs overlooking valleys below.

10. Sugar Camp Mountain Bike Area: Although primarily used by mountain bikers these multi:use pathways also provide excellent options for longer distance trekkers seeking more solitude within remote sections this expansive state park.

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Sandy Springs Campground
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Area Fishing Related Businesses
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Area Cabins and Lodges
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11383 Us Highway 52
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(740) 858-6621
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.
67.8 miles from park*
businesss listing main photo
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.
62.5 miles from park*

1. From Cincinnati, take the I-75 South ramp towards Lexington.
4. Continue on US-52 West for about 91 miles.
5. Turn right onto OH-125 West in Aberdeen.
6. Follow OH-125 West for around 29 miles.
7. Turn left onto OH-73 East.
8. Continue on OH-73 East for approximately 3 miles.
9. Turn right onto OH-104 South.
10. Keep driving on OH-104 South for about 18 miles.
11. Turn left onto Lake Rd and enter Shawnee State Forest.

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Ohio State Parks