Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Tuesday's Trail: Shawnee State Forest

Now that spring has finally arrived and warmer weather has decided to stay, I will be posting weekly on different trails in the tri-state area. Today's trail is the Shawnee State Forest backpacking trail. I love this trail, and it has quickly become me and my husband's favorite place to backpack.

Located in west Portsmouth, OH, it is only a 2 hour drive from downtown Cincinnati, making this the perfect weekend getaway trail. Total mileage comes in around 60 miles, so its perfect for extended trips as well as overnight adventures. The great thing about the trail is that it is a loop, so there's no need to repeat any part of the trail in order to get back to your car. There are 7 backcountry campsites throughout this loop, each located near water sources and a latrine. The trail is marked with orange blazes that are very well maintained. You must complete a backcountry permit if you are camping overnight.

What makes this trail so appealing is clearly the challenge involved in hiking it-- there are many ups and downs with frequent elevation changes of more than 1000 feet. Between campsites number 2 and 3 there is a hill I like to call Devil's Mound. Either way you hike it, it is a beast and will quickly rip your butt into shape if you're not already. Be sure to carry plenty of water at all times while hiking this trail-- you're going to need it!

The Shawnee Backpack trail is not for the faint of heart. It has commonly been referred to as "Ohio's Little Smokies", and I would vouch that describes it pretty well. You need to be prepared and in good shape to hike this trail successfully. If you are, I can guarantee that you'll be coming back for more!

*Photo by Rachel Campbell, Shawnee Backpack Trail 2009

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