Archers Fork Trail

EASY 47 reviews
#1 of 3 trails in

Archers Fork Trail is a 12.9 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near New Matamoras, Ohio that features beautiful wild flowers and is good for all skill levels. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from April until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

12.9 miles
1935 feet

dogs on leash





mountain biking

nature trips





wild flowers

Archers Fork is an absolutely beautiful hike. This is a great overnight hiking/camping experience. It is very well marked with yellow diamond blazes. The Natural Bridge is a pretty awesome sight and the Cave is pretty amazing. The whole trail has huge rock outcroppings. Absolutely beautiful country!

17 days ago

The first thing I will say is that the Wayne National Forest’s website stating this trail is 9.5 mile, as well as AllTrail’s description stating it’s 13.7 miles are both wrong. We backpacked this trail in 2 days (camped 1 night on the trail). Our total distance on my recording shows 14.6 miles with 8 hours 37 minutes moving time. This distance and time was following the trail blazes exactly and only leaving trail enough to explore the Great Cave and Natural Bridge. We also went the wrong way (in and out) about 100 ft. Otherwise, It’s all the trail. I’d estimate it at about 14.3 miles following it to a T. So if you’re going to go here, just be sure you’re ready for that distance. I’ll also note that there are a few spots where the trail has been rerouted and they all add distance, which would explain the discrepancies. We didn’t think it was quite that long and definitely got more than we expected but it was also out first time back out in over a year. Other than that, the trail is beautiful. It’s a LOT of hills but great scenery.

The trail was blazed very well and mostly easy to follow with a few spots that got a little confusing with the leave on the ground.

There are only 4 campsites setup along the trail so be sure to familiarize yourself with their locations if you plan to overnight this for the first time. My recording is uploaded with all 4 campsites marked, along with creek crossings and other waypoints. We did this trail counter clockwise. Going that way. There are 2 campsites just a few miles into the trail I wouldn’t suggest stopping at these and leaving everything for the next day. The next campsite is right after a steep decline. I would say this is about halfway and by far the nicest campsite. It’s right by a creek and setup nicely. It’s also very very secluded in the middle of the trail. We chose to keep going to the 4th campsite to leave less hiking for the next day. We found it was quite a hike to the 4th one but we made it before dark. It’s located where the trail intersects with another trail and also a short walk to a road where that trail’s trailhead is located. If you plan to hike here it would be a great spot to stash water or other supplies you don’t want to carry. I think it was called Jackson Road Trail.

I also would highly suggest not filtering or treating any water here. Carry everything in or stash it near the road crossings. There are many old oil wells along the trail, one that is definitely leaking into the creek.

Overall it was a tough, but great trip. Doing the loop counterclockwise and staying at the 4th site, we did about 9.5 miles the first day and the other 5 the next. If you stay at the halfway campsite I’d estimate it about 7 miles the first day and 7.5 the next. Looking back that would have been the best choice, but I’m glad we didn’t stop there because there was one other group hiking it clockwise and we passed them between these two sites. If we had taken this site they would have had a very far hike to the next one and wouldn’t have made it there by dark, so take that into consideration when hiking when it’s busier.

NOTE IF YOU HIKE CLOCKWISE: Going counter-clockwise we came down a very steep downgrade right before the 3rd campsite. Looking back up the hill, it looked impossible to climb up it and hard to even see where you would go. Obviously it’s possible due to the loop going both ways but it looks nearly impossible, maybe because the leave covering.

Make sure you stop to check out the Great Cave and Natural Bridge! Both very cool and to the left of the trail going counterclockwise.

4 months ago

I was doing Archers Fork Loop Trail as a over night backpacking trip to test out some new gear before me and my pops trip to do 98 miles on th AT. I started this trail counter clockwise started at 6 and got to to the natural bridge just in time to watch the sunrise. I passed up and down over and around breathtaking rock formations and small streams and rivers oil wells old and new throughout. I made it to Jackson run where there was a good little camp spot at about 1 set up camp ate some food and took a nap. when i woke up i decided to just finish it up so packed up in a bit of a haste at about 330. i don't know if it was because i was tired or what but that last section of the trail whooped my ass with the elevation ups and downs finished up about 630. It was a great trail but ran in to a little to many hikers more then my likening anyway but this little challenging trail has a ton of natural beauty and wildlife.

5 months ago

This was a great hike but I would not call it easy. We did it in one day and took us about 7 hours. Lots of hill, lots of hills. There is a part where you have to cross a deep creek that goes to about your thighs. The rocks, natural bridge and cave are beautiful. This trail has it all including the gas smell. Which was neat to see the old oil rigs but not on my nature hike in a national forest. It was marked well, I think we only got out the picture of the map a few times to make sure we were on track.

6 months ago

This trail was featured in Backpacker magazine and so I figured I would give it a try as a day hike. The trail receives high marks and reviews so maybe I had high expectations, but I was pretty disappointed with my experience. First, the trail is very poorly marked and if it had not been for a map and compass I surely would have been lost and possibly spent the night in the woods. I have a fair amount of experience hiking and navigating in the woods backpacking multi-day hikes on the Appalachian trail and other long distance hiking trails without this much difficulty. These issues can be fixed, however there are numerous exposed gas pipelines and oil pumps along the corridor of the trail. Additionally, we experienced a strong natural gas odor in three separate areas of the trail that was quite overwhelming. I reported this to the Forest service who said that they are aware and working to fix the issue. Very disappointed in my experience. There are several nice rock formations and streams in the area, but this area needs a great deal of work.

8 months ago

We've been here several times and it's always amazing. Moderately challenging, not too crowded, plenty of water. Not a lot of big hilltop views, but the woods themselves are beautiful and green. I always get some nice photos.

8 months ago

Some overgrown parts of the trail. Some ticks. But beautiful!

10 months ago

Had a great trip. Water near campsite. Campsite was great and at a good halfway point.

I will say sections of the trail could have better blazes. Got confused a couple times if we were actually on Archers Fork or North Country as only one was labeled and seemed to use same color blaze. There were a ton of blue blazes but yellow for Archers Fork were not as easily seen at times.

Highly recommend this trip. Did it in two days just to get an overnight tent trip in but could definitely do in a day. Also recommend checking out the Natural Bridge. Sweet caves too.

11 months ago

The best trail i have hiked at Wayne. Easy to navigate with the yellow diamonds. Lots of cool rock formations. Must do for any ohio backpacker or hiker.

Saturday, March 04, 2017

This park is great- good variety, scenic, and great campground

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Mapquest took us right to the cemetery for parking with no issues. We started counter clockwise and the first half of the trail was very easy with the trail in good shape despite the monsoon of a winter we have had in Ohio. Smelled gas a couple of times but wasn't an issue. We did lose some time trying to find a stream crossing that wasn't too deep because of all the rain. The second half of the trail was a little muddier and had some steep climbs but not too demanding. It took us 6 hours and my step counter was right at 30000 so I think the trail is closer to the 14 mile mark. The established campsites seemed to be close to roads. Overall a good winter/spring warm-up hike. With all the leaves off the trees there were some nice views but I don't think you would see much besides interior forest once the leaves come on.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

we did a family overnight on the trail. hiked a little over halfway and found a nice ridge with an established camp. heard owls at night. had my 8 yr old with us and it was probably more challenging than he deserved. Lots of elevation changes. summer in full swing and water along the trail was scarce.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Meh. Fairly easy trail, with some nice rock formations early on. But, it definitely isn't secluded. You'll hike past old oil drilling stations the whole way and be surrounded by the smell of gas most the way. Cross a couple mildly trafficked dirt roads and be greeted by some very hateful locals.

Monday, October 24, 2016

The Archer's Fork loop was my first overnight stay. I completed the trek 2016-06.

Look for the trail-head sign. There is a dirt road that heads south which declines from the parking area and is on the west side of the small parking lot. This muddy access road is not the trail head. The trail is on the north side of the graveyard. If you are looking at the main gate at the center of the graveyard, turn left ninety degrees and in about twenty-ish paces you will see the trail head sign. To the right of the sign there will be a metal gate and this path then follows the north side of the graveyard. This is the start of the trail. I will try to upload a photo. I noticed many beautiful flowers here when I visited.

I planned on splitting the loop into two days because I wanted to stop at the cave, the natural bridge and to have some free time for whatever came up since I am a newbie. This turned out to be a very good decision. The elevation changes and switchbacks are many. It certainly can be done in one day but this trail kicked my butt (in a good way).

The trail was marked very well when I went and I had no real trouble navigating. I did have a few maps.

Trail Notes
Water was not an issue when I went. Sometimes the trail was encroached by growth but that was fun. I was glad I wore pants and long sleeves though. I think the trail was busy when I went as I saw about eight separate people/groups. There were a few nice camp spots but they were taken when I arrived (I started late). I was just camping under a tarp so I just setup near a stream as the sun set. I chose to go anti-clock-wise around the loop. There were many rock outcroppings that I wish I had time to explore.

I came from Cleveland and it did take longer than I expected to get from 77 to the trail-head. I wish I lived closer but I do hope can do this trail at least once a year.

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Trail is pretty hard to find, but once you get to the trailhead it's very well-marked. We did the northernmost portion and didn't do the entire loop, but we were able to see two caves which were really cool. Lots of steep leg-burning climbs - this is a great place for a workout. Best part about this trail is it's off the beaten path and fairly remote - we didn't see another human for hours, and it was quiet and beautiful.

Monday, July 18, 2016

My boyfriend and I completed this trail over the weekend. We did an overnighter, splitting the trail in half. We started at St. Patrick's Cemetary, which was very easy to find. The trail itself was very well marked, we had no problem finding our way the entire time. We did not have a map, we simply followed the review left below that was pretty step-by-step. The step-by-step review is accurate but we disagree with the mileage. The trail is more around 12 miles. We stayed at the halfway camping site, as suggested, but it was around mile 6 versus mile 4.6. It was a very nice spot, flat space for a tent, trees for a hammock, rock fire ring, plenty of awesome seating made out of logs and rocks, even had a grilling rack and brush cleaner hanging from the tree. The downside of the spot was no water. There is a stream but it was dry. There was also limited places to hang a bear bag. The branches were short and pointing upwards. A lot of the streams we came across were dry, so be sure to pack in plenty of water and when you do come across water, be sure to take advantage and fill up. The trail is pretty aggressive as far as terrain. I feel as though 90% of this trail was uphill, the rest was steep downhill. It was a lot harder than expected. Overall, this is a great loop trail for an overnighter. We probably won't be back until we're in better shape, but we the end result was accomplishing.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Very beautiful scenery and a natural rock bridge and cave. The looks might trick you though. This trail is partly overgrown and rocks and roots on the trail might trip you. Plus the the inclines are exhausting, but I would surely do it again.

Sunday, April 03, 2016

My wife and I did this entire trail today. It took us 5 and 1/2 hours. We traveled at a moderate pace. We even ran for a portion but we also stopped to eat and enjoy the landmarks along the way. This was the hardest trail we have done so far. We are beginners. We followed the guide left by the review below.Athough we calculated our mileage to be 12.15 miles, the instructions are quite accurate. a portion of the trail was closed but we went through it anyway because we couldn't decipher the map. However, it seemed that when you come to the closed portion of the trail, you can just walk up the road to the left and get back on the trail bypassing the closed portion. We didn't see a single person on the trail but we were accompanied by a couple buddy dogs, a beagle and a pit bull, for a little while but they turned around and went back where they came from.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

This is a pretty great trail. It is located in a nice remote rural area of the state. To get to the trailhead (located near St. Patrick's Cemetery), simply go to Google Maps and type in Archers Fork Trail Head, Matamoras, OH and it will take you right to the trailhead, no problems. Once you get there, hike left of the cemetery gate (from the perspective of one facing the cemetery) and walk for a few minutes on a small path until you get to the Great Cave. From there a sign will point you to the Natural Bridge. Follow a path labeled with yellow plastic diamonds. However, note that there are some parts of the trail where the yellow diamonds are placed VERY far apart. In these cases, follow either blue plastic diamonds or blue squares painted on trees. During the first half of the trail, you will pass a medium-sized campsite located around mile 2.0 amongst some pine trees and also occassionally see signs of previous industrialization- pipes, oil pumps, storage tanks, etc. There is a stream around mile 2.5 which can be a challenge to cross- it is definitely deep enough to get your feet wet in and it is fairly wide; cross with caution. There is a section of the trail (around mile 3 to mile 4) where you follow a poorly marked dirt road with deep tire grooves. At mile four, the North County Trail and Archers Fork Trail split off. When this happens, continue on the left. Soon after this, you will reach a very nice camping spot located around mile 4.6. There is plenty of flat space, a fire ring, pine trees to hang hammocks on, and some stumps, logs, and stone chairs to sit on. I would strongly recommend stopping here for the night. This is roughly the halfway point. After that (or the next morning if you stop for the night), you will soon cross a stream, then pass by another camping site later on, and then cross a stream at mile 6.0. Once crossing this stream, turn right and begin climbing uphill. At mile 6.8, you will cross a road. You will hike with virtually no elevation change for a bit over a mile. This area is quite nice- you can see the surrounding hills and it is very quiet. Then you will cross another road at mile 8.2, and yet ANOTHER road at mile 8.9. Immediately after this crossing it will look a lot like the area around mile 2.3, but don't worry- you're on the right track. Proceed to follow the yellow/blue diamonds until you reach the Great Cave which you saw at the beginning. DO NOT turn left (otherwise you will start the trail all over again and go to the Natural Bridge). Go STRAIGHT ahead. Very soon you will reach a dirt road with deep grooves in it. Turn right at this point. Walk for 3 or so minutes, and you will be back at the cemetery where your adventure began.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

As trails in Ohio go, this one is one of the best. We ventured out recently for a short one night trip, splitting the loop in half, which gave us two pretty relaxed 5-6 mile days. The trail is moderately difficult (if Shawnee is an 8/10, this is a 6/10), and as others have noted, you need to be prepared to gather water whenever you reach a source (often miles apart), and also be prepared for deep/wide stream crossings.

The trail itself passes some neat areas, including the Great Cave, a natural bridge, and a handful of rock formations. The trail is well placed on the topography to let you take in some great vistas as well. Additionally, the campsites are all fantastic, most with water sources and good coverage.

No major complaints - all in all, a fun trip.

Thursday, March 03, 2016

This trail is marked really well, and is easily to follow. As others have said the directions from here are not correct. You can get coordinates from the NPS website. According to my step counter this was actually 14 miles not 9.5 miles, still managed to hike it in its entirety in 5 hours though. Couple steep gains but nothing too terrible. One thing I wasn't prepared for was the one larger stream crossing. Not hard but a change of shoes would've been useful. Did notice the natural gas smell in two areas where there was remnants of drilling equipment. Did come near a few roads but traffic was very minimal. The camp sites that I saw were large and very nice. The great caves and natural bridge were pretty cool also, would recommend to anyone!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

This is a unique trail but still a great one in my opinion. It is definitely a challenge even tho it is only a 10 mile loop. I would recommend this trail to most anyone, but would tell a beginner to prepare for lots of terrain, climbs, and bring water!

I got a late start on this trail in the middle of July on a Saturday afternoon. Finding the trail head was no easy task. The cemetery that is the trail head is really tucked away at the end of a dirt road. I had used the Maps app on my iPhone to get to the area and it sent me way off course. I found the trail head by zooming out on the map and looking for the road names. The cell service on those roads is spotty at best so make sure that you have a good idea of where you are going before heading out. An atlas or some detailed road map will probably be your best bet at finding the trail head.

Anyway, there is enough water on this trail, but there are oftentimes miles between streams so just be aware. There are plenty of camp sites available and make this a nice one night weekend backpacking trip. The trail is hardly kept up and there are many places where a detour around trees and overgrowth lead you off the path for a spell. It's not impossible, just makes it a bit more challenging, which I personally don't mind. The path is well blazed and easy to follow. The caves on this trail make it worth the trip as does a few of other views. It's really a great little trail, just needs some up keep.

As far as the challenge goes, this is the first trail that I did solo. I was out of shape and didn't have much gear. It really kicked my butt, can't deny that. However, I loved it and because of this trail, I am hooked on backpacking. I can't wait to revisit it again soon.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

I arrived in the evening to set up camp, just above Great Cave. The next day I hiked the entire trail. It lived up to all the hype of the good reviews I've read. As for the bad reviews, I had absolutely no problem in staying on the trail as it was clearly marked. In a few places, the trail spoke for itself until a marker came into view a few yards up. It was great in giving terrain variances and of all the campsites I saw, they were all good.I have a few picked out for my next trek down here. Unfortunately, the graffiti was there, trash was, also. I tried taking some out. The trail maintenance, well, that comes with the territory. I did not mind it. Trees falling, brush growing...all natural occurrences. All in all, I give it a five star!

Saturday, May 09, 2015

** As of 5/8/2015, there are a few fallen trees and some log/rock mini-step bridges in the northern parts of the trail that are in disarray. If you are biking this trail, watch out!

This was a good hiking trail, although there needs to be some trail maintenance performed (some trash, graffiti on rocks, fallen trees, unsafe mini-rock-bridges). All in all, this was a pretty difficult trail, especially being my first weekend backpack trip with some overweight gear. This would have gotten 4 stars if the trail was a bit more maintained. Unfortunately, due to the nearby roads, this could not get a 5 star rating. Might not be able to see the cars, but you can most definitely hear them. For the record, I only heard 3 vehicles the entire day and a 1/2 I was there.

If you plan on hiking the trail, make sure you have at least 2 full days dedicated to the trail. I had to cut my trip short since I had to work the following day (no follow-up/rest day). If you get to the trailhead late as I did, it was 11:30pm when I got to the trailhead), there is a camping spot to the SE of the "Great Cave" on top of the hill that is not marked on the map. Other than that, make sure to bring some type of water purification with you for obvious reasons, and do NOT rely on GPS (at least, a phone/tablet as gps). I never did get a GPS signal while deep in the trail; so make sure your map navigation is at least workable.

I would like to tackle this again once I lighten my load a bit.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

I'll agree with Jamie below the St Patrick cemetery is just out of New Matamoras. this is the place to start easy to find . Right off the get go you can enjoy the cave and natural bridge I tried GPS and it came up as 14miles it took us about 7 hours we made a nice lunch on a large rock over looking a huge valley. Many of the camp sites were washed out along the creek. We saw one atv other than that it was very peaceful. There were a few folks out the were planning to camp. There many yellow diamonds and half the trek follows the north country trail and it is really well marked with blue paint and diamonds. This was completed on a Saturday with little difficulty the hills have a a serpentine making it easier to climb and descend.

Monday, October 13, 2014

I'm going to start off by saying I've never been backpacking before. I've been hiking quite a bit but never had to carry a backpack. With that being said I have to say this trail was pretty challenging for me. My friend and I were planning on doing the loop but we were on a time limit so we had to backtrack the way we came in. The trip didn't start off to well. Reading other reviews we knew to look for a cemetery, however we didn't know that Archers Fork Loop shared an entrance with North Country Trail. We passed a sign that was clearly marked for NCT, not knowing that's were we needed to go we drove passed it. About an hour later we arrived back at that sign and figured we would pull in to see if there was anything that told us where Archers Fork was located. To our surprise it was there. We started our hike around 4 towards the Great Cave and Natural Bridge. By the time we got to the bridge it was raining...not prepared for that. We trekked through the rain until about 6:45 then we set up our tent. It was pouring rain by then and we were soaked with no way to start a fire. We headed back the way we came in the morning. The trails were marked very well, however we followed blue blazes better than the yellow. Yellow blazes were spaced farther apart than the blue. We smelled the natural gas every now and then but it wasn't bad. We never heard any ATV's. Overall it was exciting to be doing something new but be prepared if you're not in shape(like me). I think we did about 8 miles all together. Hopefully we can go back so we can do the entire loop. I've never wrote a review before so hopefully this makes sense.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

COORDINATES ARE INCORRECT: STARTS AT SAINT PATRICKS CEMETARY, NEW MATAMORAS, OHIO I hiked this yesterday. It is a beautiful trail. It has lots to see. I started to the right going towards the cave. A cave, natural rock bridge, numerous rock faces with interesting rock stacks and lots of down timber are the attractions. I crossed over a few streams as well as a few roads. The trail is so well marked I didn't need a map at all. Trail is marked with yellow triangles. You will end up following blue triangles in the mix. There is a marker like every 20 feet. Hands down one of the most marked trails I have ever been on. When you come up on the north country trail and the trail that goes to scenic river on the right, you take the yellow triangle to the left, do not continue down the road. The campsites are plentiful, with a few sites that were nice and large for a group. If you bring water purifying tablets you should not have a problem finding water. There is one campsite where right down from it there is a swimming hole deep enough to swim in. All and all I am quite happy. This trail is rated difficult, and it is. Lots of ups and downs. To comment on the previous review...I don't know how he walked on lots of service roads because i only had to walk maybe 150 feet of service roads. I went on a Monday and heard no atv's at all. I smelled natural gas here and there but it was not enough to mess up the hike by any means. You do see a few roads but there is no traffic up in those back roads. Photos to come.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Don't plan on trying to camp and backpack here. You'll be hearing ATV's and trucks off roading throughout the trail the majority of the time. Also, a good portion of the trail is you just walking along some roads used for the natural gas trucks. Not very enjoyable. There are only a few decent places to setup a tent, especially if you want to be off the trail and away from any roads. The smell of natural gas is also very abundant throughout. If you are looking to get away into the outdoors, this isn't the place.

Monday, September 02, 2013

My husband and I backpacked Archers Loop over Labor Day weekend 2013. The given coordinates are NOT for the hiking trail. Those coordinates put us over an Hour's drive out of the way. We purchased a Trail Packet from and even THAT was full of incorrect information. I would think they would have the obligation to ensure the info is correct. It's a safety issue! Use your GPS and put in 'St Patrick's Cemetery Road' as your destination. You will see the trail sign at the corner of the cemetery. The trail blazes have been *updated* and are very easy to follow. Blazes are bright yellow-orange. I think that the 4 hour time given is for the mountain bikers since there is NO way a hiker or backpacker could navigate the 10 miles of hills and valleys in that amount of time. I agree with the others that an overnight is best. There are some decent camping spots. The trail covers a wide range of terrain, from flat and straight paths to a grueling 'hill' marked with a Danger sign. You will hike on packed dirt, rocks, grass, a country road, across a river or two, a field, through tall flowers, through a swampy area.... A little something for everyone. Take the time to explore the caves and see the natural bridge and spectacular rock outcroppings! Have fun!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Totally agree with Bradley's comments. Trail is poorly blazed and the trailhead is incredibly nondescript. The cemetery is your marker. Park alongside the cemetery entrance and walk down the hill on the oil road to find the trailhead.

The loop is best done in two segments. There are numerous camping spots especially between miles 4 and 6. Bradley is definitely right about the maps as well. A topo map is essential along with the ability to read it. The trail is not fully established in some areas because the trail is not heavily used. It's seems to be a sort of hidden gem of a trail. I really enjoyed the hike. Went ultralight for this one and was glad I did. The 30lb pack isn't necessary for this trail. It's an easy daypack type of hike. Only the essentials and the terrain won't be too bad. A great minimalist trail.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

This was a fun trail, we started the loop towards to cave route at night and still found our way on trail pretty well because of the blazes every 1/10 of a mile. I think the four hour completion is a little off, maybe if you are full on sprinting without any breaks. The only confusing part was the trail combining with north country trail and the frequent encounter with oil rig roads. If you want to enjoy the view and take it in I would recommend splitting it into two days. There is an awesome camp site on top of a ridge about 2 miles or a little under 2 if you start on the cave side of the loop. If your interested in climbing bring some gear and hit up the ridges close to this campsite. I feel like its easy to stray of the trail if you don't know what a blaze looks like. If you start on the natural bridge side there is a nice campsite 5 miles in after a grueling hill marked with a danger sign. Not totally positive but I'm pretty sure the brown stakes along the trail are .25 mile markers.

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