Located in the Appalachian foothills near the banks of the Ohio River, 1,095-acre Shawnee State Park is nestled in the 63,000-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"
The map from the government does not correspond well with the actual signs on the earth! No where on their backpacking map does it mention an East Loop. But there are signs about the East Loop along the "Day Hike" trail. Their map also does not show this loop. It appears the signs on the trails are referring this loop as the "West Loop".
Despite the description of Shawnee State Park as a 5.6 mile trail, it is far longer in reality. Depending on the configuration that you choose, you can either do one of the 20+ mile North or South loops, or a combined 45+ total loop. Additionally, the elevation change is significant (suggested by many to be the toughest terrain in Ohio) - over 5000 feet on the North loop alone.
My party completed the North loop over three days this past weekend. We had a great time - the placement of potable water stations and latrines near each campsite was a major luxury. The orange-blazed main trail is easy to follow, but be careful of the cutoff trail that bisects the North and South loop. The maps on the Shawnee park site, at the trailhead, and those at various sites (backpackohio.com, etc) are flat wrong - the day hike loop has been significantly rerouted recently, which added great confusion and mileage to that leg of our trip. We are contacting the park office about this omission, and hopefully they will update their maps soon. If anyone has any specific interest in this trail, I can provide much greater detail on how to stay on track. Just give me a shout.
I'm from this area so I should like this trail more than I do, it's a nice hike kind of challenging if you were a beginner or only do short hikes. The real drawback to this trail is there isn't a whole lot to see with the exception of an overlook that's rather nice. It's totally worth it don't get me wrong, it can be a bit challenging at time because it has a lot of up and down hills. Pro tip-travel light