SHAWNEE STATE PARK
Located in the Appalachian foothills near the banks of the Ohio River, Shawnee State Park is nestled in the 60,000-acre Shawnee State Forest. Once the hunting grounds of the Shawnee Indians, the region is one of the most picturesque in the state, featuring erosion-carved valleys and wooded hills. The rugged beauty of the area has earned it the nickname "The Little Smokies."
Several hundred million years ago, a general upheaval of eastern North America made changes in the terrain that are evident in Ohio today. South and east of Ohio, the layers of bedrock folded and buckled, giving rise to the Appalachian Mountains.
The forested hills of Shawnee are a part of the Appalachian Plateau. Here, the bedrock layers were uplifted but no real distortion occurred; for this reason, Shawnee never had true "mountains." In fact, all of Ohio's hill country is a feature of stream erosion on this prehistoric raised plain and is often referred to as the foothills of the Appalachians.
The hills of Shawnee have also been dubbed "Ohio's Little Smokies." Looking toward the Ohio River, one can certainly see how the region acquired such a nickname. From the highest points in the forest, ridge after ridge appears to roll away toward the horizon in a gentle blue haze. This distinctive color comes from moisture in the air which is generated by the thousands of acres of forest.
The hardwood forest is host to a variety of flora and fauna. Wildflowers are abundant including several rare types of orchids such as the tiny whorled pogonia and the showy orchis. Forest wildlife includes white-tailed deer, wild turkey, raccoon, various songbirds and rare sightings of bobcat and black bear.
The 60,000 acres of Shawnee State Forest and Shawnee State Park encompass a part of the former hunting grounds of the Shawnee Indians. Historians note that the Shawnee name means "those who have silver," as the tribe conducted considerable trade in this precious metal. A major Shawnee village, known as Lower Town, was located near the confluence of the Ohio and Scioto rivers. The Scioto River provided access to the heart of the Shawnee country in central and southern Ohio.
The Ohio River was the gateway to frontier settlement in the Ohio region as well as for Indiana and Illinois. This expansive waterway, the Spaylawitheepi in Indian tongue, was the site of many confrontations between incoming pioneers and the red man. The Shawnees monitored the influx of the white settlers from the line of ridges that overlooked the mighty Ohio River.
During the 1700s, the Shawnee Indians were gradually displaced as the settlers continued to build their cabins and clear land in this new and fertile country. The face of the region changed a great deal in the years to come, but through effective timber management practices by the state's Division of Forestry, Shawnee State Forest has regained much of its original appearance. Similarly, resource conservation programs coupled with wise land use practices at Shawnee State Park have assured that this 1,168-acre recreational facility will continue to maintain its natural beauty.
Lands were acquired for the park in 1922 and it was first operated as Theodore Roosevelt State Game Preserve. In the 1930s, six Civilian Conservation Corps camps were located in the area. It was at this time that many of the roads and lakes of the area were constructed. In 1949, with the creation of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the Division of Parks and Recreation, the area became a state park and forest. The name was changed to Portsmouth State Park in the early seventies but has since been changed back to Shawnee State Park.
Ohio does not have an annual pass and does not charge entrance fees to state parks.
Nearby State Forest, acres63,000
Hiking Trail, miles10
Picnic Shelters, #2
Seasonal Dock Rental137
Launch Ramps, #1
Fuel For Saleyes
Electric Sites, #101
Rent-A-Camp Sites, #3
Camper Cabins, #2
Group Camp, capacity35
Horsemen Campsites, #38
AccommodationsLodge Rooms, #50
Family Cottages, #25
Indoor Swimming Poolyes
Outdoor Swimming Poolyes
The family campground at Shawnee has 107 sites suitable for tents or trailers. The campground features electric hookups, waste disposal, heated shower houses, flush toilets and laundry facilities. Pet camping is available on a limited number of sites. A 20-site horsemen's campground with latrines is available near Bear Lake on state forest land.
The resort lodge at Shawnee offers a breathtaking view of the surrounding hill country. The lodge features fifty guest rooms, elegant dining room, meeting rooms, indoor and outdoor pools, tennis, basketball and shuffleboard courts.
There are 25 family cottages at Shawnee. They have one bedroom with one standard bunk bed and one single-over-double bunk bed, one bedroom with a double bed, bath with a shower, living room, complete kitchen, dining area and screened porch. Lodge facilities are available to cottage guests.
An 18-hole championship golf course and pro-shop are within a short drive of the main park area.