SHAWNEE STATE FOREST
Once inhabited by the Shawnee Indians, Shawnee State Forest came into existence in 1922 with the purchase of 5,000 acres of land which had been cut over for timber and ravaged by fire. During that same year, land acquisition was begun for the Theodore Roosevelt Game Preserve. In the 1930s, six Civilian Conservation Corps camps were located in the forest. During this period, many of the roads were constructed in the then nearly inaccesible area. Many other accomplishments resulted, including five small lakes that were built to serve as water supplies for the camps. Following the creation of the Department of Natural Resources in 1949, the recreational facilities at Roosevelt Lake were transferred to the Division of Parks. The Roosevelt Game Preserve, by a 1951 agreement between the Division of Forestry and Wildlife, became a part of the forest. Shawnee State Forest, also called "The Little Smokies of Ohio," has developed into the largest of the 20 state forests, with over 60,000 acres. While the Forest is a fantastic recreation feature in Southern Ohio, you should not be surprised to see other activities occurring. The Forest is a working forest. It is managed to provide a variety of multiple uses on a sustained yield basis. Timber harvesting, tree planting, wildlife habitat, forestry research, watershed and soil protection, and production of tree seeds are all in a day's work for Forest Employees and many local residents. During the spring and fall forest fire danger periods, state forest crews detect and suppress wildfires that occur on state and private lands within the surrounding protection area. Nearly 8,000 acres of the forest have been designated as wilderness. This minimzes human influence and allows the land to return to a natural condition. Timber management activities and public motorized travel have been eliminated in the area. In the mid-1800s and early 1900s, building stone was quarried from Vastine and Cabbage Patch hollows. The stone was moved by railroad to the Ohio River and loaded on barges. Much of the stone was used in the construction of buildings in Cincinnati.
Shawnee State Forest is located in southern Ohio and has a rich history that dates back centuries. Here is a brief overview of its history:
1. Native American Influence: The area where Shawnee State Forest is located was historically inhabited by various Native American tribes, including the Shawnee people. The Shawnee tribe, known for their hunting and trading skills, used the forest as a valuable resource for food, shelter, and other necessities.
2. European Settlement: The land of Shawnee State Forest was part of the Northwest Territory, which was ceded by Native American tribes to the United States government after the American Revolution. European settlers began moving into the region in the late 18th century, establishing farms and communities.
3. Logging Era: In the late 19th century, commercial logging became a significant industry in the area. Large tracts of forest were clear-cut for timber, which was primarily used for building materials, fuel, and other purposes. This logging activity had a profound impact on the forest ecosystem.
4. Reforestation Efforts: Recognizing the importance of preserving forests and combating deforestation, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), a New Deal program established during the Great Depression, played a significant role in reforesting the area in the 1930s. The CCC workers planted millions of trees and introduced various conservation practices that helped rehabilitate the land.
5. Shawnee State Forest Establishment: Shawnee State Forest was established in 1922 as Ohio's first state forest. The initial acquisition was small, but subsequent expansions over the years increased its size. Today, it covers over 63,000 acres, making it the largest state forest in Ohio.
6. Outdoor Recreation: With its diverse landscapes and natural beauty, Shawnee State Forest has become a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. The forest offers a range of recreational activities, including hiking, camping, fishing, hunting, horseback riding, and birdwatching. The Shawnee State Park, located within the forest, provides amenities such as cabins, a lake, and a swimming beach.
7. Wildlife Conservation: Shawnee State Forest is also known for its efforts in wildlife conservation. The forest provides habitat for various species, including white-tailed deer, wild turkey, bobcat, and numerous bird species. The Ohio Division of Wildlife, along with other organizations, works to manage and protect the forest's wildlife.
As a result of its historical significance, natural beauty, and recreational opportunities, Shawnee State Forest continues to attract visitors who appreciate the preservation and exploration of this scenic area in Ohio.
Nearby Wildlife Area, acres8,000
Backpack Trail, miles60
Bridle Trails, miles75
Walk-In Campsites, #8
1. Shawnee State Park Campground: This campground offers 107 electric sites and a shower house with flush toilets, as well as pet-friendly options.
2. Roosevelt Lake & Turkey Creek Camping Areas: These are primitive camping areas within the forest that offer picnic tables, fire rings and latrines but no electricity or running water.
3. Bear Lake Horse Camp: A campsite specifically for those who want to bring their horses along on their trip into nature; it has hitching posts, horse stalls and access to bridle trails in addition to basic amenities like pit latrines.
4. Iron Ridge Campground: Located near Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant Wildlife Area offering both RV hookups (electricity) and tent campsites with restrooms available nearby.
5 Oak Hill Equestrian Primitive Group Site - Another option for equestrians looking for group accommodations while exploring Ohio's largest state forest by horseback
6 Backcountry Camping - For experienced backpackers there is also an opportunity of backcountry camping at designated spots throughout the park's extensive trail system which includes over 60 miles of hiking trails
7 The Lodge At Scioto Trail State Park- If you prefer more comfort during your stay then this lodge might be ideal choice providing modern rooms overlooking beautiful lake scenery just short drive away from Shawnee Forest