Lake Vesuvius Backpack Trail is a 18.1 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Pedro, Ohio that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round.
Lake Vesuvius is my back yard. I've hiked its smaller trail (Lakeshore Trail) a million times over. Never once have I been disappointed with the lakeshore Trail, well except for some trash thrown about near the entrance. "Of which remains the fault of visitors to the park & not the parks management". However, in regards to the 17.25 mile backpack trail, I'm a bit disappointed and concerned to the lack of proper maintenance, water availability and overall non existent camping spots for overnight hikers. It seems "they" or someone should consider the route a bit more carefully when water and camping are vital to a long distance hikers success.
I hiked the lakeshore trail and the back section of the backpack trail about a year ago. The lakeshore trail has some nice views of the lake as you go along. I went in the summer, but I think this would be a beautiful hike in the fall when the leaves are changing. The trail was a little confusing in the back where it intersects the horse trails. This is where I jumped off the lakeshore trail and picked up the backpack trail There weren't any spectacular views that i remember along the backpack trail. It's just a walk in the woods. I had planned on spending the night, but ended up hiking the whole thing in one day. I think it would be nice hike in the fall.
I made a couple of videos of the trip. The first video can be found on my YouTube channel at the link below.
Overview: The trailhead begins at the recreation area near the boat ramp and the kayak rental shed. You can go either clockwise or counter-clockwise. I went clockwise. You start off with a nice view of the lake on the Lake Shore trail and you eventually have an option to go left up a hill to the Vesuvius B.P. trail or straight to stay on the Lake Shore Trail and pickup the B.P. trail later. I went left to the B.P. trail. From the start of the B.P. trail it is a decent incline. Eventually you are so far from the lake that you have no view at all. You hike the entire time through forest. There are very few sights along the way because of how dense the forest is. You will encounter spider webs the entire time. I probably walked through somewhere between 300 - 500 webs during the entire trip. As far as navigation the trail was overall pretty easy but there are many horse trail crossings that can cause you to very easily take the wrong path. There are many spots where there should've been a blaze and there was either never one posted or someone had ripped it off. I only got turned around once but it was at the same point as someone else so clearly it was confusing to others as well. We actually helped each other find our way back to the right trail. I enjoyed that there was almost no civilization the entire trip. I only ran into a total of 4 people in 2 days on the trail. I will say if you go clockwise you will be incline hiking almost the entire time until the end and a few breaks along the way. Overall a good beginner-intermediate hike if you are in decent shape and not worried about spiders or their webs. Definitely have a map to avoid any confusion due to lack of blazes.
Secluded and not overpopulated
A few nice views of the lake
Pre-made camping spots throughout the trail
Easy to find trailhead
The end of the lakeshore trail was scenic
Lack of blazes/difficult navigation
Inclined hiking path majority of the time
Not very good views of anything around because of dense forest
Horse poop on trails
Lake is pretty dirty/no water sources
The area near trailhead smelled really bad of sewage
My husband and I backpacked this hoping to draw it out over two days. We went counterclockwise following the yellow blazes and actually didn't have too much trouble finding the trail with the exception of two spots. Very dry, we cached water at Paddle Creek and did treat some water from the lake to no ill effects. The lower trail was nice, saw three box turtles and not a single other person the entire trail. The spiders were horrendous, had to have someone out front constantly waving a stick to get through it and even then plenty in the face. There are some campsites, some trashed but all decent. Stayed at one mile in when we hiked in late Friday night. The upper part was super overgrown with lots of grass and weaving through hollows and some steep climbs. About two miles out from Paddle Creek stopped for a break and looked down to find ourselves COVERED in seed ticks. COVERED. At Paddle Creek we found a cess pool to try to get some off (didn't think of tape until later), hid one of our bags and then abandoned our plans of camping at the nice site in the pines to hike out the five miles on the road to our car to curb the thousands of invaders. Eight hours later after rounds of swimming in chlorine pool, NIX shampoo, bug bombing everything in permethrin. DEET will not deter these f*!#ers, drench yourself in permethrin (can pick up at any Rural King for cheap) before this hike if you do it during the summer. Think it might be nice in the fall though and we were sad to abandon it. But seriously, THOUSANDS and THOUSANDS of ticks the size of a pin head everywhere.
You know that scene in the Lord of the Rings where Sam and Frodo walk through that spider's lair and get webs all over them? That was this trail. Spider webs the entire 17 miles. Actually, Lord of the Rings describes this trail perfectly, if you subtract the hobbits, the elves, the ring, and generally everything except a pointless and boring journey over poorly mapped territory.
Even with a map and generally good knowledge of hiking and navigating, we got lost multiple times. Once we were at least a 1/3 of a mile off trail, traipsing around like idiots trying to find it. The map is not clear and the trail is so overgrown and poorly marked, without someone who has walked it before you'd be hard pressed to do this trail in a timely fashion.
Beyond that, it was just boring. The beginning and end of the trail are near the lake and interesting, but the middle was nothing to write home about, at least in the summer. The fall I'd imagine it has great vistas, but not now.
Only part of this trail we enjoyed was how isolated it was. In the 2 days we were there we saw a total of 4 people on the trail. Other than that - skip this sucker. Do the lakeside trail and tack on another trail if mileage is what you're looking for, and leave this trail for the spiders.