I went here with my brother for a backpacking trip around the lake and had a great time. The trail head is easy to find (near the lodge) and the trails are well blazed and easily followed. The trail itself follows the outline of the lake, roughly, and offers some spectacular views of the lake.
The terrain can be hilly at times but not overly so. And there are a great deal of interesting rock formations, wildflower groves, and various different kinds of environments to see along the trail.
The campsites are all drive in campsites at various points along the trail, many of which also have a dock. For more adventurous backpackers this can be a little disconcerting and take away any hopes of a back country camping trip. But for backpacker beginners it can be a great trail as there are water and bathroom stops at several points along the trail.
Overall I think it is a great trail for beginning backpackers.
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!
We took a group of Boy Scouts on a five day backpacking trek of the entire Shawnee Loop. It was a very challenging five days with a lot of up and down hills.
The entire loop is around 36 miles. There are seven campsites along the trail, and all but one has water access, which was really nice on our trek.
The first day we hiked from the trail head parking lot to Camp 1. The camp was a small, secluded grove down in a valley. This made for a nice cool off from the day's heat. The camp has a large grassy area and several smaller campsite offshoots.
The second day we hiked to camp 2 and stopped for water. Unfortunately the water supply seems to have been compromised since we found leaves in the water coming from the faucet. Luckily we have our water filtration system so we quickly filtered the water and were on our way. We then hiked to camp 3 which is very close to Camp Oyo. This was a nice, large camp right next to the creek. We had tons of space. The only bad thing about this campsite was it's proximity to the main road. We heard cars going by all night.
The next day we found a beautiful view on top of the one hill just off a logging road where we stopped for lunch. There was even a picnic table. We then went on to camp 4 which, unfortunately, had been trashed. There was garbage everywhere, likely due to this campsite being close to a road. So, as good boy scouts we cleaned up the trash so that the next group could enjoy the camp. This camp was much like camp 1. Grassy area, small creek, lots of shade in the valley.
We then went on to camp five and we quite disappointed. This is barely a camp at all. It's just a long trail to a small grassy patch. Barely enough room to set up a decent camp. I think this camp has not seen much use.
When we hiked to camp 6 the next day we found the crown jewel of the trail. Camp 6 is absolutely beautiful. The camp is in a pine grove and has a substantial creek running through the middle complete with fairly large fish! Although there was no water access in camp six we were able to refill water thanks to the stream and our filters. We were very bummed to not be camping at camp six.
We then went on to camp 7 for our final night. Camp seven is just like camp 1. It's down in a cool valley with an open patch for tents and lots of good trees for hammocks.
Overall it's a good hiking trail, and very challenging. The only thing I would like to have seen more of would be a more interesting trail. Which cant be helped, really. There aren't any interesting rock formations or caves along the trail. And the views are OK. Nothing too spectacular. My thought is that you do the Shawnee trail for the challenge of the distance, terrain, etc. It's a good training trail for longer treks. I enjoyed it greatly, but don't see myself coming back for some time.
I took our popup camper here with the family for a weekend and had a great experience. The camp has lots of RV type spots with electric hookups. There are also several "primitive" spots available for tent camping. Reserving a spot is super easy with the park's online reservations.
The park has lots of activities including several nice hiking trails, a playground, late night movies for the kids on Saturdays in the summer, and a really great beach on the lake (with shower houses!) There is water available all throughout the campsite area at several faucets as well as bathrooms and a shower house, both of which were clean and in good working order.
I highly recommend this park for any kind of RV camping and will likely return in the future.