Archers Fork Trail

MODERATE 64 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 rated as moderate. 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.

DISTANCE
12.9 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1,935 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dogs on leash

backpacking

birding

camping

hiking

mountain biking

nature trips

walking

cave

forest

views

wild flowers

wildlife

muddy

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!

hiking
7 days ago

Great trail. We did this as a day trip and went counter clockwise. Lots of spiders on the first half. I found it to be a little bit better marked than other reviews have suggested. We only noticed Natural Gas smell at a couple of spots next to a pretty obvious natural gas processing area. The second half featured some pretty awesome weathered sandstone. I would make sure to map your route to the trailhead prior to getting close as there isn't any reception.

backpacking
12 days ago

The trail could use better trail markers. The cave nothing big, it’s more of an over hang. It does make a good rain shelter

backpacking
2 months ago

nice overnighter, lots of up and down hills. well marked trail

camping
2 months ago

We did this loop as a family camping/backpacking summer trip. Our 5 kids ages 16 to 1 1/2 enjoyed it most of the time although some of the terrain was pretty intense for the younger ones. We started going clockwise at 11am on a Saturday and only met 3 other hikers before we got to the halfway camp by 3. Trail was well marked and several campsites/water crossings along the way. Hiked out Sunday in 4 hours and saw nobody. Beautiful trail and private. Would not do this trail again in 95+ degree weather but it would be a great spring/fall trip.

backpacking
2 months ago

I read all of the reviews before I left and Nothing in those reviews prepared me for this trail. The hills on this trail are intense and you will spend miles at a time going uphill. If you go counterclockwise the beginning is nice and relaxing but once you hit mile 4 the trail gets intense. It was well maintained but muddy everywhere. Its a nice trail that was well maintained but it should be listed as hard not moderate. The views were also not as exciting as I expected after all of the hype. It was exactly what you'd expect to see standing on the side of a mountain but nothing special.

2 months ago

Even after 4” of ran the previous day not really muddy. Creeks higher tricky to pass. Never saw a soul. Moderate. 2 mph possible for an out of shape old guy. Camp anywhere!

3 months ago

my wife and I were here about 3 weeks ago and the trail was really nice and enjoyable until the second day. we had camped about 6 miles in to the trail loved the campsite it was right next to the creek. upon us leaving the next day to finish the hike we noticed the trail markers strated to go away there weren't as many and the amount if huge trees down in the trail was ridiculous the trail at that time was not maintenance at all.

backpacking
5 months ago

I purchased the guide for this trail at least 8 years ago, if not longer. Never got to go before a left the country for a few years. Finally, went last weekend. Really enjoyed the trail. It's much longer than the 9 miles on the old guide, but the topo map on this site seems accurate. The hiking app on my phone came up with just shy of 14 miles.

We arrived at the trailhead by the cemetery just before noon (after missing the turn on Shay Ridge Road because Waze didn't load enough maps prior to losing cell signal, so we had an unplanned visit to New Matamoras). There were already 6 or 7 cars parked there, but there was still space for at least one more after we parked.

We took the counterclockwise direction toward the cave and natural bridge. The vast majority of the trail was in good condition with few muddy spots. The trail had been improved since my guide was made with switchbacks replacing what had previously been straight up the hill ascents or descents. This added about 1 1/2 to 2 miles to the trail on either side of the campsites in the middle. It seems like we saw a couple of campsites within the first couple of miles. There were several near the midpoint. There were also several on the second half of our trip, so while we hiked about 7 miles before stopping, it appears that there are options for that distance +/- 2 miles regardless of which direction you travel.

We had decided that we didn't want to mess with pumping or purifying water, so we had driven down and around to TWP 427, which is shown on the AllTrails map, and dropped off a 2 1/2 gallon jug of water there. When we hiked back around to that point, we passed one small campsite and stayed at another that was near where we left the jug. TWP 427 was passable with a Highlander to the point where the creek and the trail cross the road. We may have been able to cross the creek, but I was just caching water and didn't need to risk getting stuck. While were we camping there, a group of two Gators came down the road after dark. We also heard at least one go up the road in the morning.

While we encountered 4 groups on Saturday, we didn't see any when we hiked out on Sunday. There are a lot of sites with past or current oil wells. While it isn't shown on the AllTrails map, there is a section of trail that we encountered on the second day, that starts at the summit above TWP 427 and follows an dirt road. It was sort of boring.

It was a good hike. Would do it again.

hiking
5 months ago

I remember doing this trail 3 years ago and yes it was great for an overnight 2 day hike we had several hiccups where we just winged it on navigation. the trail was slightly overgrown and not well marked. with the help of good guessing and land navigation we made it. did make the trip more interesting and kept you on your toes. so if your not good with land nav./ gps tracker id advise against this trail.

hiking
5 months ago

Late March 2018. Archers Fork is Wildcat Hollow on steroids. We just did the whole 13 mile loop in around 6.5 hours or so with 5.40 in hike time. Archers has a lot mor elevation change and many more water crossings compared to Wildcat. Also Archers is a full 13,mile loop - no mid point cut off loop like Wildcat. Archers feels more wild and less traveled, with much more geological scenery and fewer established camps.

Signage was good with more blue blazes for the North Country than Archers Yellow at times. Bring your app and map and you’ll be fine. Trail was muddy in spots due to rain but tree fall was well handled. Streams were higher than typical but we were able to cross using fallen trees or other creative means without wading.

Going towards the Great Cave and Rock bridge we saw few camps until around the midpoint. Camps persisted the rest of the way - especially near major streams or cliffy areas - see my recording. Not many folks out on the trail or atvs on dirt road lbs so it was quiet. Met 2 groups backpacking and 1 group of local boys who stared at us across a hollow, while I silently played deliverance banjos in my mind. .

The middle 1/3 is less interesting than the beginning or end. Lots of flats on soggy oil rig roads. The final 2/5 or so was my favorite part with many streams and cliffy sections. This is also the most challenging part to hike with endless ups and downs.

I will return to camp here as this could be a great overnight zone with options for multi day trips using some of the connector trails.

ps- The eTrails map/guide I found posted online was very helpful but it says 9.8 miles. It was more like 13. That’s 3.2 miles off- in hilly terrain that’s huge. My track recorder was off for 2 short bits , but even with that I my trek recording showed over 12 miles.

backpacking
6 months ago

Archers fork is one of the best backpacking trails in all of Ohio. The 13 mile loop provides nice views, interesting rock formations and good camping sites. There are major elevation changes, but they are not all that bad. Decent layout and switchbacks make them very doable. Parking is limited (6 -12 cars) so large groups should consider carpooling. The Great cave and Natural Bridge are both interesting. There are also relics from the early 20th century oil era. One drawback is that consumption of water along the trail is not recommended, however, water caching is easily done. (please go back and pick up any jugs)

hiking
10 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.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

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.

hiking
Saturday, September 02, 2017

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.

backpacking
Tuesday, July 18, 2017

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.

backpacking
Sunday, July 02, 2017

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

backpacking
Friday, April 28, 2017

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.

hiking
Sunday, March 26, 2017

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

hiking
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.

camping
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.

backpacking
Monday, October 24, 2016

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

Trail-Head
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.

Difficulty
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).

Navigation
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.

hiking
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.

backpacking
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.

hiking
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.

walking
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.

hiking
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.

hiking
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!

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