I found this trail to be challenging. We hiked from Lake Hope and spent the night at campsite 1, then completed the loop the next day. Great hike and beautiful forest. Some fallen trees, steep inclines and declines to create a challenge and get the heart rate up. We also encountered a large copperhead about a mile out from campsite 1, watching us closely only about 3 feet from the trail. Be careful and very snake aware in this forest.

3 days ago

Has been a few years since I did this hike, but connected it with the south loop and managed to extend my stay for five days. The north trail was definitely less populated, but also the trails were less well maintained. Still an excellent hike, but I remember the south loop being more scenic.

3 days ago

The best backpacking trail in Ohio! You really feel secluded when you get to the campsites, night time can be fantastic with the sounds of the coyotes. There is a water well and outhouse at the campsites as well, making it easy to settle in for the night.

24 days ago

Link below is the map provided at the trailhead with more descriptions.


According to this link the trail (which starts at at the Hope Schoolhouse) is 28.8 miles NOT 20.1. Definitely have this handy or pick up a physical map at the trailhead. AllTrail has you start at "X" or the Iron Furnace which still has a stand for maps and registration.

Other than that, this really was a nice trail for getting my wife over fearing backpacking. Sections W through X have a lot of Creek crossings that get a bit confusing. This is where most of the overgrown parts and downed trees are concentrated. Nothing impassable of course. Campsites we're great as was the water availability.

My only reason for a four star rating was the lack of solitude and the lack of scenic overlooks. If you like fairly brief climbs and descents in to forest creeks and lush hillsides this is a great hike.

Currently laying in a hammock on this trail at campsite three. Excellent views but mildly freaked out about coyotes but I can hear them, which is cool at the same time.

1 month ago

Great trails and well maintained. Campsites have water and pit toilets available. great place to start backpacking.

I loved the trail. Challenging but I have found lots of Chanterelle mushrooms, chicken of the woods and shiso leaves

We hiked this trail in late July and enjoyed large portions of it. The portion of the trail north of campground 3 was disappointing though. There were spider webs across the path probably about every 100 feet so you couldn’t really enjoy the hike or sites without that constant distraction.

Hiked all 11.3 miles of this trail yesterday. Started at the Iron Furnace. 6 hours later I was back at my car. A lovely, long walk. Trail is overgrown so wear long pants and perhaps bring a long shirt. Take hiking poles because there is poison ivy in places. Not a difficult hike in terms of elevation, but challenging because it is long. Was definitely ready to get in the car at end. There were many interesting parts, including an overlook, wetlands, old overgrown roads, rock formations, flora, and fauna. I saw a beautiful male deer, ducks or pheasants (I couldn’t tell because they were far away and I scared them so they flew off), a lot of butterfly varieties, many bird species, and bugs. Wear repellant. Bring lots of food. 2 water sources and 2 latrines along the way. Saw several hikers, maybe 15 in all. I don’t like crowded trails, so it was perfect. A great great day. Highlight was the male deer who was just as interested in me as I was in him. If you do this loop in 1 day, be prepared to be out there a while.

1 month ago

Went backpacking for a night to campsite two. The incline at the start really kicks your ass but it’s pretty nice from there. Water is cold and fresh along the trail and the bathrooms are actually really nice for a backpacking trail.

me and my son did it at night. whole new experience.

Nice overnighter. We started from the Iron Furnace trailhead and hiked counterclockwise. to campsite no. 2, got up early and hiked out the next morning. Follow the orange blazes until you get to waypoint K, then follow the white blazes back to the trailhead.
It was 90 degrees the day we hiked in, so it was harder than we expected. The forest was beautiful and there was some pleasant topography along the way.
Mosquitos were horrible, requiring multiple applications of Deet. Lots of Rambler Rose, blackberry and nettles line the trail, but these could be held back with trekking poles. Consider wearing gaiters or long pants and take plenty of water if you go in mid summer.
The campsites were well chosen and had ample space for multiple parties. No tables or fire rings, but privies are provided and, best of all, piped in water is available.

2 months ago

This was a good hiking trail for a one-night backpacking outing. The trail is generally well maintained except for a handful of downed trees in some areas. There were not too many great views, but it was a good intermediate trail with some good elevation changes and only a handful of harder climbs. I would recommend at least two liters of water with refills available at either of the two campsites. Since this goes through some wetlands, it can feel quite humid on a hot summer day.

FYI, there are two trailheads. The trailhead at Hope Schoolhouse is designated for overnight backpacking and the trailhead at Iron Furnace / 278 is designated for dayhikers, but you can use either trailhead for either purpose. The Iron Furnace information board shows you the direction to the trailhead up the road (250 feet road walk).

We were confused about where the trailhead started from the parking lot, but discovered you actually have to walk down the road a short distance and the trailhead starts there. If I had to do it all over again, I would've worn hiking pants instead of hiking shorts because the poison ivy can be pretty dense in some areas where the trail gets pretty narrow. Thankfully, I didn't end up getting any :) This hike definitely got my heart rate up at times. I brought trekking poles which I found to be helpful for both the inclines and declines as parts can be steep up & down. For the most part, the trail was easy to follow, blazes well marked. Using the app was incredibly helpful and we needed to refer to the map a few times when trails conjoined. I'd recommend bringing at least 2 liters of water to start off with and fill up along the way if needed. There is water access at a couple points along the trail, but we ran into several people who were almost out of water and asking us where the next water access was.

Cool tunnel thats about it.

trail running
3 months ago

I attempted this route yesterday. Parked at Hope Furnace. Walked across street to get a free trail map and headed off. Day after a rain I expected trails to be muddy. They were muddy and the trail is overgrown but not ‘thick’. Some spots are a bit thick but most is runable. Mistakes I made were not downloading the GPX file to my watch. Not remembering my AT&T service is dead in this area of Ohio. I forgot to bring calf compression sleeves to protect shins from thorns and weeds.
Plenty of friendly backpackers out on trails.
Tried as best as I could but ended up missing a turn past point Q and started following yellow painted markings not orange. Popped out on 278 about 3 miles north of Hope Furnace. Hiked and ran back to the car.
If you don’t mind stepping over logs, dirty trail shoes, rubbing shrubbery, or getting dirty these are fun single track trails which you can combine to make longer runs. Saw one snake. Had plenty of tiny streams to wash my arms and legs off and dump water on my head.
I want to go back and do the sections I missed.

The main loop was well-maintained and well-marked for the most part. We didn't lose the trail at all but we did not have a good sense of when we reached some of the lettered points on the trail. There is some varied scenery, such as ridges, wetlands and streams. With the Hope Schoolhouse connector this is a tough trail. Not only do you add about 2 miles, but you immediately add a ton of elevation gain.

Great hiking trail! Be sure to have your Cardio ready to go as a few of the inclines are no joke!

Did this entire trail yesterday. We went counterclockwise. Trail is well marked and plenty of water is available. As others have said the terrain can be steep in places and is probably a little more than a “moderate” hike, especially if you are carrying your backpacking gear. Overall though a nice trail.

Did loop midweek and had trail and Campsite#3 to myself. Well marked. Water at campsite is nice. Some spots are muddy after a rain but passable.

We've done the north loop, it was beautiful but pretty tough. Heavy rain can make the creek a little scary, but it's largely avoidable. the campgrounds are nice, especially having the access to water. Go early on weekends, the parking lot seems to fill up quickly.

5 months ago

I've backpacked Zaleski over the course of a weekend and I've hiked the whole thing in a day. Either way it'll kick your butt. It's got some serious elevation changes and combined with the sheer distance, this could easily be rated "hard." You could argue it's a little boring. There aren't a ton of spectacular views or features, but it's still my go to long distance hike in Ohio. If you love the forest, you'll love this. Especially the peaceful north loop. Camping can be hit and miss because you're limited to three general areas and it's typically pretty busy. Find those quiet times and the solitude can't be beat. I'll never stop coming back here. As others have alluded to, there are a few areas where it's difficult to follow the trail. I still lose it from time to time and I've hiked it at least half a dozen times. Bring your map and pay attention.

Beautiful area and a fun place to hike and explore.

10 months ago

Nice and simple trail with cool scenery. If you are up from a rock scramble, there is a large hill with a moderate climb. Feeling adventurous? Park on the opposite side of the stream and figure out how to traverse the valleys and water to find your way to the tunnel.

11 months ago

I've been to Zaleski twice now. Started at the Hope Schoolhouse and made it to the first campsite, spent the night and left the next day. The trail is pretty steep past the Schoolhouse so be prepared. I think it's a 900-1,000 ft elevation change, great way to start a hike. A couple of downed trees but hey, you are in the forest.
Heather Rodenborg, just because you struggled to get up the first hill (I made it up the first time in 15 min, first time backpacking as well) and because the outhouse was well, an outhouse, doesn't warrant a poor review. Go dig a trench. Anyone who has hiked any trail in the US would expect some downed trees and not a 100% clear and visible path.
The orange blazes are clearly marked throughout the entire trail. It is very easy to follow. I suggest going in early spring / late fall when the foliage isn't so overwhelming. Good supply of cold water spaced out as well. Have to search a bit for good firewood though.

It’s fun, check it out. A VERY easy trail for sure.

11 months ago

Love it! Yes there are downed trees, yes it’s difficult to climb with a pack but it’s not supposed to be easy. I passed a dad and three kids today ranging in age from 16-9 so it’s achievable. Get to camp early though because it can be crowded on weekends. Even at that people are respectful and are quiet as soon as the sun sets.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Great bath. But I would rank this path. Hard! due too the terrain near the swamp before and after ariving the aria. The path just goes steap going up and down. It is a workout! the only even surface is at the campgrounds. Trail is a nice dense forest. You can run the whole trail with 2 litters. there is water pumps at 2 campgrounds. no need to carry extra. be ready to get a challenging pack packing hike. no jock.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The ridgetops were beautiful, but the wetlands were tough to get through enjoyably. Some hills were quite challenging. A lot of downed trees crossing the trail. Water supply was great.

Monday, August 21, 2017

This was our first trip to Zaleski and will be our last. I'm being generous in giving it two stars. We started from the school house point since the park office stated that the iron furnace lot floods when it rains and rain was in the forecast. Well 30 minutes in and we were ready to quit. There is a pretty steep hill that you have to get up and the trail up it sucks. They should have 1) made it a switchback or 2) put in stairs. The trails aren't maintained and this part has washed out due to the rain. It took us a 5-10 to get up because our feet keep sliding since the incline was so steep. We did the whole loop and there were at least 5 huge downed trees on the trail that you either had to try and climb over, take your pack off and climb under, or try and find a way around. Like I said, the trails aren't maintained so these trees have never been cut and taken off the trail, which makes it hard to follow the trail. In fact, one of the trees that went down was a trail marker tree and you could see around or over the down tree which took us a bit to find the trail. We stayed at camp site 1 and 2. The reason I gave 2 stars is because they do provide water and a toilet. However, none of the toilet were clean or have toilet paper. People had pooped on the seats and not cleaned it up, there was a huge hornet nest on camp site 2's toilet, so be prepared. There were a few great views but not enough to bring me back here. So good luck!

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