Covering almost 27,000 acres, Zaleski State Forest is the second largest state forest in Ohio. It’s located in the rugged hills of the Allegheny Plateau and is rich in nature, outdoor recreation, and history. Visitors can explore a 23-mile backpacking trail, wildlife area, horse camp, and a large lake. There’s even a historic sawmill and an old one-room schoolhouse. Whether you live in southeast Ohio or are just passing through, a trip to Zaleski State Forest should be in your plans! Here are some of our favorite things to see and do there.
Spend an Afternoon at Zaleski State Forest
Hiking & Backpacking
The Zaleski Backpack Trail is one of the state’s most popular overnight hiking destinations. It was established to introduce some scenic and historic aspects of the forest and features many points of interest. The main trail’s 23 miles are laid out in a long contorted loop, offering many trip options to day hikers and single-night backpackers. Plan on a double overnighter if you want to hike the entire loop in one trip!
The trailhead is located on State Route 278 across from the historic Hope Furnace. A wooden kiosk stands on the south side of the parking lot, and overnight backpackers are required to self-register here before starting. Registration forms and a trail map are available at the kiosk. Be sure to look for any postings regarding recent trail changes.
Are you an equestrian? You’re in luck! Zaleski has over 50 bridal trails and a horse camp. Feel free to bring your own horse, or take a guided trail ride with Uncle Buck’s Riding Stable. Their gentle, well-trained horses are perfect for riders of all ages and skill levels. Call (800) 221-1122 for more information.
Waterloo Wildlife Area
The Waterloo Wildlife Area is a 447-acre forest within Zaleski that provides a habitat for endangered plants and animals. It’s also used for squirrel research and wild turkey management. Hunting of ruffed grouse, white-tailed deer, cottontail rabbit, and raccoon is popular here. You can also enjoy fishing in Waterloo’s three ponds. Be sure to bring your binoculars – over 80 species of birds have been spotted in this area!
In the nineteenth century, Moonville was a small, isolated mining town in Vinton County. The town is no more – only a cemetery and abandoned rail tunnel remain. Today, the Moonville Tunnel can be found deep in a lonely section of Zaleski State Forest. The area around the Moonville Tunnel is considered to be one of the most haunted places in Ohio.
Come Home to the Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls
After a wonderful day exploring Zaleski State Forest, take a short 30-minute drive back to our inn and unwind! Our Hocking Hills bed and breakfast features beautiful inn rooms, cottages, and cabins that have everything you need for a relaxing stay. We even offer a delicious homemade breakfast each morning! Visit our accommodations page to see what’s available and contact us to make your reservations. We look forward to having you!
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Photo Credit: LarryKnupp | Getty Images