I have backpacked the trails here since the 1980s. More recently, I have taken my kids for several treks on the lower loop. Get there early and get to the campsites first, there are decidedly better sites in each camp. The water is good and I have never seen them dry. You will see lots of wildlife, we have seen salamanders, deer, snakes, a wild turkey even wandered into our camp in May 2018. Back in 1988, I saw two rattlesnakes together beside the trail on the northern loop. Moonville Tunnel is close and is a great bookend before or after your hike. I actually like to hike the lower loop backwards, starting on a Thursday. Treat yourself to a post hike meal at the Lake Hope Dining Lodge, Sunday brunch is awesome. Don't worry about stinking from the trail, the outside seating is dog and smelly hiker friendly.
This is located by the hocking hills region of the state. Beautiful winding Ohio roads and landscapes out of this world. Take a day trip to one of the many sites to see in the region or go for a hiking through the Zaleski State Forest. This is and area you must love the outdoors as there isn’t much else to do. There are plenty off of shore fishing spots right off the campgrounds trails. You can dock a boat off lake hope and enjoy a day on the water, or rent a kayak or canoe at the local beach area right down the road. You can enjoy a day playing in the water, eating and ice cream and sun bathing. Please no furry friends at the local beach though. The grounds were very large, plenty of spaces no need for reservation in off season. Also the offer primitive, electric and rv sites and are pet friendly there. We showed up late so the office was closed, they did have a list of sites that were taken on the door for you to pick a spot or find your reservation. When they did open we registered and were all set, they offer bags of ice for sale as well. If you’re looking for firewood there are plenty of private sellers off the back roads normall $5-$10 a small or large bundle, it’s on the honor system so please pay them!! I love this area and campground the best there is around there. We went into the little town of Zaleski which is about 4 small roads with a local bar, very basic bar caned beer and about 5 liquor choices. Cool thing is you can get beers to go back to the site if you’ve run out. We had a good time here and will be back time and time again!
I went backpacking with my brother here last year and it was one of the best camping experiences of my life! We enjoyed four amazing days or hiking, camping and exploring nature.
The trails are well marked and easy to follow. And there are several loop sections so you can easily plan various tips accordingly. There are three main camping areas with established fire rings, bathrooms and water supplies making the stops at the end of the day that much more pleasant.
There are a great deal of interesting rock formations to check out as well as a few good overlook areas. I highly recommend taking the short connector trail on the south loop to cut over to the Moonville Rail Trail. We spent one afternoon hiking over to the Moonville Tunnel and it was one of the coolest parts of our four day trek.
I plan to return to Zaleski many more times in the years to come!
Zaleski State Forest is adjacent to Lake Hope State Park. Off Rt 278 near Zaleski, Oh, true Ohio countryside to enjoy on the way in. Signal is spotty.
Primitive camping, check in before going and bring your good hiking boots. You will get a work out. There is water to enjoy also and a historical drive if you enjoy learning about the stuff our ancestors did for "fun" :)
We drove to the end of the road for the campground there, but there are also some 1 or 2 day backpacking options. The park has beautiful water and forests. The trails criss-cross logging roads a lot but we didn’t see any logging/vehicle traffic. The area is more like a park than a forest since there are so many amenities.
I only came here for a 2 day backpacking trip and it was kid of hard. I'm a backpacker and this was tough. There is clear trails and a lot of rocks to climb on top of. The trial was about 19 miles and was definitely worth it because of the views
I love Zaleski and have returned multiple times. These campgrounds and hiking trails are my go-to for a weekend backpacking trip. Rarely have I seen other hikers on the same trails but we always meet people at camp. The terrain has many climbs and descents and takes you along ridges, through valleys, and along forest floors.
All of the campsites have multiple areas for different hikers and each is relatively secluded from the others so you can be by yourself. All campsites have an outhouse and potable water all within easy reach from all camping areas. I've never felt cramped by other campers and we've always had a great spot to make a fire, hang our food, and put up a line for our clothes to dry on (if needed).
There's a great loop hike in Zaleski State Forest. High quality trees, nice little hills, cool rock formations. Fine campground for tent-camping (my preferred camping method). Much of Ohio is flat corn land, so Zaleski is a special place in Ohio. The trail swings close to some homes, which is less remote than out west where I live now, but overall it's nice.