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Zaleski South Loop Trail is a 11.3 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Zaleski, Ohio 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.

Length 11.3 mi Elevation gain 1,528 ft Route type Loop
Dogs on leash Camping Hiking Nature trips Walking Bird watching Running Cave Forest Lake River Views Wild flowers Wildlife Bugs Muddy Rocky
Description
Waypoints (10)
Facilities
Contact
Getting There

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.

Parking lots either side of the road at trail head and base of Lake Hope

Forest fire: Office (740) 596-5781 Emergency 911 Vinton County Sheriffs office (740) 596-5242 or (740) 596-4222 Athens County Sheriffs office (740) 593-6633 ZALESKI STATE FOREST LAKE HOPE STATE PARK Division of Forestry Division of Parks & Recreation P.O. Box 330 St. Rt. 278 27331 State Route 278

Directions provided by map via the PDF brochure

Weather
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Reviews (332)
Photos (450)
Recordings (259)
Completed (534)
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Matt Groboske
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Hiking
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Matt Groboske
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Hiking
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Katy Modica
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BackpackingGreat!

A friend and I did a short backpacking trip on this trail from 10/3 - 10/4. I see in a previous comment that someone mentioned bees, and we also passed someone on the trail who mentioned being stung twice by bees. My friend and I did not encounter any pesky bees along the trail, thankfully! This trail provides just the right amount of challenge and interest with its rolling hills and various scenic spots along the way. It is well marked and well maintained, but always take a map with you just in case. We camped at Camp 2, which was a great spot tucked away deep in the woods. Plenty of campsites, although best to arrive on the early side if you want to snag a good one. There is a water pump there for drinking water. We continued counter-clockwise on the loop the second day. From camp 2, you’ll hike down into hollow, cross a gravel road, then head up a steep incline to point J. From there, it’s very flat hiking along a ridge line. Toward the end, there is a beautiful spot with a cave/rocky area to explore around. Great weekend and beautiful weather! This is a gem for Ohio hikers.

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A Jan
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarOctober 4, 2020
Hiking

The trail is great but beware backpackers. Like another reviewer mentioned, there were several car missing their exhaust catalytic converters after overnight parking on 10/04/20. Specially SUV or cars with high ground clearance,where thieves can easily cut exhaust pipe without lifting cars.They need to install camera or patrol the overnight backpacker parking.

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Nikki Smith
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HikingBugsGreat!

So. Ground bees. Like....ground bees are LEGIT on this trail. (They had some warnings posted) My husband and I both got to enjoy their stings. So if you're allergic to bees....Bring an Epi Pen. Bees aside we had an amazing time. Just day-hiked this, no camping but the campsites looked heavenly. Nice views, challenging hike without feeling impossible, and a good distance for a half day adventure. There were some areas that were recently blow through with bobcats to clear downed trees so the trail was rough in spots, but over all very nice.

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David Full
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Hiking

Beautiful forest! Awesome campsites, well placed water sources throughout!

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Eric Metzger
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Judith Lehman
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CampingGreat!
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Mac Murphy
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Hiking
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Kelly McConaughey
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Hiking

beautiful trail. great for a first-ever backpacking trip.

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Dennis O'Callaghan
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Hiking
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Randy H.
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Hiking

seems like most of the blow downs have been cleaned up, camps were pretty full...it was perfect weather though. Fist solo backpacking trip and the first at all in about 10 years. it was a blast. will be back to do a different loop next time.

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Alex James
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BackpackingBugsGreat!

A buddy and I have hiked the south loop over 5 times. Well-marked, fresh water, nice terrain and a good lookout. A couple steep, long hills. But nothing you can’t handle!

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Eric Schmutte
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HikingBugs
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Dave Walter
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BackpackingGreat!

We hiked the south loop with a group of 7 including a few first timers. All did great. The trail couldn’t be easier to follow with all the blazes. We stayed at campsite 2, do yourself a favor and walk back into the site (behind the privy) for a nice stash of camp sites. The water was available from a pump at both camp site 1 and 2. Start your trip early as the trailhead parking lot fills up quickly and the campsite was pretty full. I’m thinking it was probably fuller than normal as it turned out to be a fantastic weather weekend. All in all a great hike for one night. And I would say it wouldn’t be that tough of a day hike either. Mileage was right in the 11+ range. We’d do it again, maybe hike it backwards.

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Elise Whited
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Hiking

Very well marked beautiful trail.

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scott thomas
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Hiking

Started at sunset and thankful for the extremely well marked trail! Really easy to navigate and find camp in the dark.

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Mattie Ropelewski
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Hiking

Warning: my catalytic converter of my car was taken Saturday September 12th 2020 beware if your car on the trailhead! Otherwise beautiful backpacking trail, we stayed at campsite number 2, it was really well maintained. About 6 campsites, highly recommended backpacking trip!

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J Pleban
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BackpackingBugsGreat!

I hiked this trail from 9/11/20 - 9/12/20, arriving to Hope Schoolhouse around 10:35. By the time my two friends and I compared gear and shredded weight, we hit the trail about 10:50 A.M. after signing in I've hiked many different trails locally, and even did a small 1-day trip out at the A.T. in NH once, but this was my first legit overnight backpacking experience, and I don't think I could have chosen a better introductory trail. This hike is well blazed, maintained (thank you to whoever is sawing the fallen trees on the trail), and yet still offers a good challenge with it's elevation changes. I never thought walking flat ground could feel so rewarding, but this hike will show you how. We arrived to Campsite 2 Friday a little after 4:30. Campsites were filling up fast. We decided to walk all the way until we hit a sign that says "no camping beyond this point". It is was my honor to place my tent directly behind that sign. Made for some comedic pictures. My friends and I enjoyed the rest of our evening maintaining our fire, clanking whiskey flasks, feasting on mountain house meals, and talking about life. Heard a few coyotes in the late night, too. And last but not least, as this was my first time ever doing this, there is something entirely liberating about taking a shit in the woods. We finished this loop on Day 2, and that's where the more scenic views hit us. Zaleski offers tremendous beauty not found in any other part of this state. We approached a lake which looked untouched by mankind for decades, with trees surrounding it that you could tell the beavers in the area loved. The valleys, the caves, it was a challenging beautiful hike that I'd love to get back to again soon. For anyone wanting to get into the backpacking hobby, this will be the place I tell them to go to first to really get a feel for how it all is. Can't say enough good things!

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Alyssa Chrisman
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BackpackingBugsOver grown

I just wrote a long review but accidentally clicked out of it so here are the highlights: This was my first solo backpacking trip (plus my dog Rosie). I parked at the Schoolhouse, which adds 2.8 miles and a lot more elevation to the trip (my Garmin says 2644 was my total). I read online you’re supposed to park there for overnights but I do not know if that is enforced. The trail was overgrown in some places but not terrible. Well-marked except one section in the “valley” where I got turned around because I think I mistook a dried up creek for the trail. Was quickly able to right myself using my downloaded AllTrails map. I got to camp 2 a little before 5 pm on Friday and there were only 2 spots left. Thankfully, one was perfect for me and my hammock although it was a bit of a trek back. There was no firewood and I had no means of obtaining any, but a lot of other people had fires. I heard coyotes in the middle of the night. I think they were far away? I did not pack bug spray, but I had some mosquitos or gnats swarming around my face a lot of the time while hiking. They weren’t a problem at camp. The water at camp 2 was way better tasting than I anticipated! Overall, on a personal note, I am a beginner at backpacking (this was only my second overnight). I hike a lot in Columbus, but those trails are all flat. I am an overweight female and I was carrying my pack— and this hike was really, really hard for me. Lots of steep climbing compared to what I’m used to. I drank A LOT of water but had no appetite and still don’t even after being home for a few hours. This hike taught me a lot about myself, and I don’t know if I’ll do this loop again but I hope to keep backpacking (but maybe take it a little easier next time). Shout out to the angels Q & M who provided me with a plum, a water refill, and some much needed company!

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Jeannie Ammirato
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HikingBugs

Back-packed this loop, stopping to camp overnight at Campsite 2. Very thankful for the 2 water sources along the way—good water, too!—and for how well-marked and maintained the whole trail was. Day 2 was definitely the prettier section with lovely rock formations, and it was also less climbing. The ranger that maintains this area is extremely helpful and great to work with, and the blow downs were easy to navigate. Had a late lunch at the Lodge when we finished—delicious!

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Laura Meyer
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Hiking

The hills about killed me! Definitely a fun hike. This was my first time backpacking and I would highly recommend! 2 miles to camp 1 and 7 miles to camp 2 if you hike counter clockwise. We stayed at camp 2, got there around 7pm and took the last spot! So start early if you want to be sure to get a campsite with a fire ring. No great views or overlooks which is why I’m not giving it 5 stars.

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Greg Wurst
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Nature tripsBlowdownGreat!

We did this in 1 day with day packs. Most of the trail is well marked with orange blazes. Portions could be updated a little but we didn't get lost. There are multiple trees down over the path but it's obvious they are working on the trail. Its got some good elevation changes that will help keep you in shape. A lot of beautiful scenery as well.

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Izzabella Shinault
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CampingBugsGreat!Over grown

This was a perfect trail for people getting into backpacking/ hiking! The trails were easy enough and the camps were beautiful! At the time we went, there were some fallen trees but we could tell they haven’t been there long! In all, it was a great experience!

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