Zaleski State Forest Day Loop Trail is a 19.5 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Wilkesville, OH that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.
dogs on leash
You are walking on a portion of the original road from Marietta to Chillicothe, which also passed through Middletown (today known as Athens). This road, abandoned by 1870, was actively used by early settlers and was also an important hunting ground for Native Americans. BACKPACK TRAIL RULES 1. You may camp only in the designated campground areas shown on the map. 2. A self-registration permit (no fee) is required of all hikers. The permit, which you must fill out prior to entering the trail, is available at the trail parking area 24-hours a day.
This trail is rough. Lot's of elevation changes the whole way through. That doesn't affect the natural beauty of it. Get out there early so you can secure a parking spot and a decent campsite.
Completed 3/4 of the day loop, starting at Y and cutting back through King Hollow Rd back to the Hope Furnace parking lot. The trail is great with the 4.5 mile leg being pretty deserted, the parking lots were full to the brim but only passed 6 people on the trail. That being said there is very little scenery to view and was overall a pretty boring hike. There is a great vista view at about mile 5 going counter-clockwise but the vegetation is so thick you can't really see it. There are many steep uphills with little footholds but this just makes the trail more challenging. Less traveled sections have trees over the trail and it can be quite narrow in places. Make sure you have a newer map before heading out, mine was older without realizing it and had location markers with different letters than what is actually on the ground. Hope Furnace trailhead should be point X not A. This created a lot of confusion on where we were and where water was located. That being said water pumps are clearly marked on the trail and campsites were large and realitively flat. There are 3 within the first 7 miles and are marked C, backpacker camp 1 and 2. Overall an okay 10 mile trip.
I have taken several overnight trips here. There is a new backpacking trail head near the Hope Schoolhouse. A video of my most recent trip, showing the new trail head, can be found on my YouTube channel at the link below.
Here is another video from 2015.
It's a nice place to go backpacking for a quick overnight trip.
Backpacked 5ish miles in and camped over night and then another 5ish out. The trails are well taken care for the most part. Crossed a lot of water on the way out as we took a different way. If you don't have a map you can end up taking a wrong trial and inadvertently double the length of your trip. The camping area is pretty large but still filled to the brim with others by evening. Good practice trail if your looking to build up to something more. You will get a workout.
We stayed at camp 2. The trails are well marked, and they had maps at the trail head( we also printed a few off before we arrived, which I recommend doing as there are not a lot ). The trails are pretty well taken care of. We did 14 miles, and were planning on staying a second night until a big thunderstorm came in, I hate wet gear and being cooped up in the tent. The water sources were a very nice feature. The backpack campsites were nice and roomy. I hear they fill up on the weekends. All in all I will definitely be back! There is a lot of cool things to see!
* I lost a pair of grey Gander Mountain zip-off hiking pants there if anyone finds them, message me please!
did 10 mile loop. the trail is ok. the worst part was the access road part of the trail. it will fatigue your feet fast. we did the loop in one day. we where gonna stay at sight 3 but seem to have heavy traffic. so we just walk back to parking lot. Good thing too because there where alot of hikers just heading in. to busy for my taste. no good scenery.
Awesome, but beware, there was a detour. No signs out, however what was supposed to be a 10 mile loop turned into 17 miles. The detour trail just stopped and we had to make our way out to the road and walk the last mile back.
I love this backpacking trail. If you are looking for complete solitude I would recommend going on this trail during the week. Boy scouts tend to use this backpacking trail on the weekends a lot in the summer time. Expect the campsites to be filled on summer holidays and crowded, still a fun environment! Just not if you are more of a solitude backpacker, which can be achieved during the week. This is the only trail I feel safe enough to backpack alone without feeling like I have to be of concern for my safety. There are water and latrine stations at each campsite which is nice and water tastes great. Lots of up and down trekking on ridge tops so make sure you have boots that cover the ankle, and don't pack for a tent side camping trip for this trail obv. There is a section you will walk on gravel, do not let this discourage you haha It is probably for less than a mile. You go through pines, hardwoods, come across cool recessed fixtures and caverns, narrow trails to give you a more primitive feel. I live in Columbus so for me this trail is amazing when I want to get away for a day or two and I absolutely hate car side camping, and not to mention it's free haha. The first campsite is a nice trek in so expect at least a half hour -hour trek and prepare yourself. Just something I do is I usually do not hike all my water in since that is weight to carry and there is water at the first camp ! So no need to fill up all your water sources. I have went all seasons by far would say spring and fall are the best times! Summer is awesome but expect fellow neighbors! I have went so many times in the fall and spring and have literally been the only one there ha, it is so nice! Just remember to pack what is necessary, heavy packs could ruin your fun for this trip ! haha
My opinion...Zaleski state forest is an intermediate trail, although it wasn't hard and definitely not easy.
Full of ups and downs, some sections straight up with little footholds, the trails are pretty much narrow.
It's absolutely a beautiful deep dense forest!!
It's doable for beginners, keep in mind hiking 6 miles may not seem like much, hiking 6 miles with 30 lbs strapped to your back is entirely different!!!
great trail, but I don't understand how from A to C is less than two miles. It honestly felt like 5 and took three hours to hike.
Great over night hike. We did the south loop and camped at D. Water tasted great and although there were more than 30 backpackers we felt the seclusion. Pack light as there are some pretty good climbs. Don't forget a map.
Great family trail!!!
Perfect trail for a beginner backpacking weekend. Water stops are perfect. Just a little complaint is that the south loop trail drops you off at "P" and doesn't seem to have any more trail markers to bring you back to the parking area. You have to follow the road to the right for a bit. Other than that the trail is well marked and awesome!
The terrain is quite challenging for being at the outskirts of the Appalachian mountains. great scenery but the designated campsite areas are a drawback. This causes overcrowding and you lose the feel of being isolated when you pick your site. The area is well maintained from fallen bramble and the trail is easily followed.
We went the last week of January and the weather was perfect: low to mid fifties even at night. The trail was precarious at places due to ice resulting from trampled snow and melting; but that just added to the adventure. In the hollows and on the east sides of the hills there was still snow to trounce through, but on the ridges and on the west slopes it was like hiking in the fall. The views of the lake were beautiful and the ice falls were spectacular. The camp sites were a little wet/muddy; but we found a nice one covered in leaves where the ground was mostly still frozen and it was nice. Overall it was a great first overnight hiking experience and I would definitely recommend it. I'm looking forward to going back and hiking the whole trail in the future.
Our group called ahead to make sure that there would be water at each of our campsites. The park office said they filled the tanks on Thursday. Campsite C had water on the first night but when we got to H we discovered that the tank was empty. This forced us to treat water from the Iron Sulfate creek about a mile from camp. All in all the trail was well marked and we had ample room at the campsites. It was just annoying that the park service wasn't willing to come fill the tanks despite numerous calls.