Tar Hollow State Park
State parks are a great way to visit nature trails, hike, get outside, and find some peace of mind. In a world where things might be a whirlwind, it is nice to know state parks have quiet, open spaces to explore, rejuvenate the senses and spend quality time alone or with loved ones. Tar Hollow State Park is a 46-site primitive horse camp and is Ohio’s third largest state forest with 16,120 acres of land. That is a lot of exploring! Bridle trails are available for exploring as well. These trails are south of the fire tower along with 22 miles of networked hiking trails throughout the park. With so much to do, the only question is, where to begin the journey!
Tar Hollow State Park
History of Tar Hollow
Native Americans and settlers both founded Tar Hollow, or the land it now sits upon. The Hopewell Indians first inhabited the land from 200 B.C. until around 500 A.D. Burial mounds are all that is left of their time there. The Shawnee and Mingo claimed the areas for hunting. Chillicothe was named by explorer Nathaniel Massie in 1796. First settlers took some of the lots to farm. The hills were too steep to farm in some areas but pressure for lumber rose over time. The hills of the land now called Tar Hollow were cleared to make way for farms. Pine tar was essential to homes back them, taken from the knots and heartwood of the native Pitch Pine trees. In the 1930s, a new agreement was made called the Ross-Hocking Land Utilization Project where people were incentivized to move to cities but instead bought more land to live. Recreation facilities including Pine Lake and the group camp were built and the Ohio Division of Forestry took operation of the land in 1939 to build what is now known as Tar Hollow.
Shaped by the Land
Ohio is known for sandstone in the southeastern portion of the state. Sandstone hills are covered in rich forest that is as beautiful as it is diverse. Oak and hickory trees like the tops of the area while sycamore, black willow, and silver maple line the valleys near water. Mosses, ferns, and wild mushrooms also grow in the area. Tar Hollow State Park boasts lots of wildlife that don’t thrive in other parks, including:
- Reptiles and amphibians
- Game birds
- Five-lined skink with its brilliant blue tail
- Box turtle
- Red-backed salamander
- Wild turkeys
This wildlife continues to be a draw to the park as people love to explore its historical roots, geological wonders and diversity of its ecosystem in this part of the country. The exciting landscape and breadth of wonders available make it a ripe playground for any individual or families wanting to come explore its wild edges.
Tar Hollow State Park
Don’t let the adventure stop at Tar Hollow. Be sure to check out surrounding trails in and through this park and all over Hocking Hills State Park. There is so much to enjoy and love about this park you will likely want to return to re-capture some fond memories and create new ones on some new adventures.
Fun Ways to Explore
If you or your family are looking for fun ways to spend time at the park, you’ve come to the right place. The scenery is spectacular and the quiet serenity of nature awaits. You can’t be disappointed by all the ways there are to explore Tar Hollow:
- Hike the park’s trails. From easy to difficult, there is a path for everyone. Plan a hike using the trail map or just try a few to get started including Logan Boy Scout Trail. Try all or part of this 21-mile journey through the forest.
- Ross Hollow Hiking Trail: easiest to enjoy for everyone. At 4.9 miles in length, it is not too far for little kids on up to big kids who enjoy some nature and time outside with beautiful views of the park
- Enjoy some grub: delicious meals by campfire or packed in a lunch box accentuate the fun awaiting at Tar Hollow. Picnickers can find the perfect spot or brown bag it at one of the many places to enjoy a quick bite
- Splash around Pine Lake: the nearby water makes it irresistible to enjoy. Pine Lake features 500 feet of each and a place to get in the water or enjoy it while canoeing or kayaking
- Hunt for mushrooms: morels are a highly prized mushroom for chefs worldwide. They will never guess you could find them in Ohio! In the spring, they are almost everywhere around Hocking Hills. Hunters come from around the country in search of this illustrious fungi
Pine Lake is named for the pine tar extracted by people long ago. They used the extracted material for farm equipment, ointments and other materials. Residents relocated to more fertile lands eventually. The Civilian Conservation Corps eventually took over some of the land and created Pine Lake and constructed roads for public use. Oak and hickory trees dot the landscape with some sycamore, willow and maple lining the stream valleys. The first supports a variety of hardwoods and contains fern, moss, and wildflowers. This popular hunting ground supports morel mushroom hunting in April. People come to Pine Lake to relax, enjoy some canoes and paddle boats, fish and camp nearby. The space gives plenty of room to have quiet time while also enjoying shower facilities and a camp store nearby. THe park provides lots of space to hike after enjoying some time on or by the peaceful water’s edge.
Tar Hollow State Park F.A.Q.
A: Tar Hollow State Forest is open 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. Hunters, anglers, and legal campers are also allowed. Camping in designated areas only and horses are only allowed on designated bridle trails.
A: More concisely, what CAN’T you do at Tar Hollow? This magical forest is a wonderland for individuals, kids and families to explore. From camping to water craft activities (kayaks and canoes, for example), there is a never ending array of activities. Hiking and horseback riding are also fun ways to explore this rich, dense forested area.
A: Boats with motors up to 15 horsepower are permitted on Pine Lake. Canoes and rowboats are encouraged. Ramps are available at the beach.
A: Bluegill and other panfish are in the waters of Pine Lake. Hunting is also available in the adjacent state forest. Valid hunting and fishing licenses are required. See above for watercraft regulations.
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