Wayne National Forest
Wayne National Forest
Wayne National Forest is a treasure tucked away in the hills of Appalachia. Wildflowers bloom, wildlife runs free, and trails abound throughout the parks that dot the landscape. Just one of many choices, these 200,000 acres of wilderness are a great spot to visit for locals and travelers looking for a respite or adventure. While visitors may flock to other parts of Hocking Hills, don’t overlook this gem. Go fishing in the scenic waters, check into a spa for a night (or three) and enjoy the time away from life for a while. Rest in the forest by taking in some of what it has to offer young and old visitors alike.
Some of the best Hocking Hills hiking trails rest right here in Wayne National Forest. The Wildcat Hollow Hiking Trail features pine forests, meadows, and streams. A 17.2 mile loop of trails brings people past streams and near ridge-tops with breathtaking views. Spring is peak time for wildflowers so people love to come and take in all the sights, sounds, and smells of the forest coming to life. Backpackers, campers, and day hikers come from all around to glimpse the forest home’s offerings. Binoculars are a great addition to any backpack to see the flora and fauna of the forest along the Hocking Valley Bird Trail. Visitors love to view the butterflies and moths popular with enthusiasts. Be sure to check out the quiet streams and spots for added serenity.
Not everyone thinks to bring bikes into the national forest. While they may think of hiking or camping, don’t neglect to think of ways to see it on two wheels. Cycling through Wayne National Forest is quite popular, with 209 miles of scenic trails awaiting exploration. Mountain bikes can be brought into Hanging Rock Trail System, Monday Creek Trail System, and Scenic River Trail. Lake Vesuvius Recreation Area also provides space for road cyclists (bring a helmet and safety gear). Trail permits are required for all off-road biking but the enjoyment will last a lifetime.
Take a sweet ride on four wheels with an ATV rental, or bring your own, for some special adventures. R Adventure Park is near the park. A variety of quads are available for rent but many people bring their own. Some of the popular trails include:
- Dorr Run Loop: one of the most popular systems with five trails outside Nelsonville, Ohio. Access the trails off Highway 33, norwest of Nelsonville
- Monday Creek: contains 75 miles of trail with entry points at New Straitsville and White Oak. Mountain bikers, campers, and hikers all access this multi-use trail so be mindful of others when riding
- Superior: 16.5 miles of exciting, adrenaline pumping adventure. Narrow trail with room for vehicles with 50 inches width or less. Accessed off State Route 52, with connection to Pine Creek trail system and room for mountain biking and hiking.
Wayne National Forest
So many options and choices exist but so little time. Take some space to figure out what will be the most alluring place to begin and keep a list of all the places yet to visit next time. Assuredly, one visit will not be enough to this national (and local) gem of a park right here in the heart of Hocking Hills, Ohio.
Lake Vesuvius Recreation Area
A visit to the forest wouldn’t be complete without checking into Lake Vesuvius Recreation Area. This premier destination for adventure seekers within the park is developed and named after Vesuvius Iron Furnace. The hills and cliffs are a beautiful backdrop to a gorgeous outdoor space to relax and have fun. With a 143-acre lake, two family campgrounds, beach and swim area, fishing, boating, and more, there is something for everyone to enjoy. The 46-mile Lake Vesuvius Horse Trail system also calls this place home and welcomes equestrian riders of all ages. Longbow Archery Trailhead is a fun place to try any of eight archery field targets for enthusiasts. There is also hiking and backpacking within the park and near Lake Vesuvius on the Lakeshore and Backpacking Trail.
Many people visit the park hoping to drop a line and pick up a fish (or two). Leith Run Recreation Area has estuary fishing on the banks of the Ohio River. Open April through October, there are many ponds, rivers, and stream fishing available to reel in the big one. The location of the campground on the river with campsites, picnicking and camping offer an all-inclusive space to enjoy time with family and friends.
Wayne National Forest FAQ
A: Wayne National Forest brings nature lovers and adventure seekers into the park for various activities. It is located in the Appalchian foothills in the Hocking Hills region of Ohio.
A: Wildcat Hollow Trails have over 15 miles of hiking and walking paths for visitors who enjoy beginner to expert level trails. Dispersed camping (backpack in or pitch a tent at a trailhead) is allowed at Wildcat Hollow Trail and Trailhead. Campground services vary with some spaces offering water, tables, and toilets for campers. Group camping is available at designated spots for RV camping and parking. Some highlighted spaces may include Lake Vesuvius Iron Ridge and Oak Hill Campgrounds with recreation areas.
A: Camping and picnicking season goes from May through September, except at Vesuvius Recreation Area which is year-round. Southwest Ohio has warm days and cool nights in May and June, with best swimming in July and August. Best to check in with the national forest rangers for more information on winter activities in the park.
A: This amazing recreational area was designed amongst the hills and cliffs for visitors to enjoy fishing, boating, hiking, and much more. Equestrians can also ride on designated trails. ATV trails are nearby and campers love to set up tents or bring RVs to designated spots for much needed relaxation by the lake and recreational grounds.
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