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Ohio’s Shawnee Backpack Trail

When the footpath is named the Backpack Trail, you know what to do.

QUICK TAKE: Shawnee State Forest, OH

DRIVE TIME: The Shawnee Backpack Trail self-registration kiosk is on OH 125, 90 miles east of Cincinnati (2 hours), 120 miles southeast of Columbus (21/2 hours), and 100 miles northeast of Lexington, Kentucky (2 hours).

THE WAY: From Cincinnati, take OH 125 east to the Backpack Trail parking lot. From Columbus, take US 23 south to Portsmouth, US 52 west, then OH 125 west to the parking lot.

TRAILS: Shawnee Backpack Trail (orange blazes) has a 40.9-mile main loop and 15.1 miles of connected side trails (white blazes). About 14.5 miles of the Buckeye Trail (blue blazes) and the North Country National Scenic Trail (marked with the trail’s emblem) jointly overlay the Backpack Trail.

ELEVATION: The high point is a dizzying 1,286 feet (okay, but this is Ohio) at Twin Creek Fire Tower; the low spot is 525 feet at Pond Run.

CROWD CONTROL: Ohio’s most rugged trail and its campsites are often empty.

MAPS: A map with topo features is available from the Shawnee State Forest headquarters, (740) 858-6685. Or download (slowly) maps from www.hcs.ohio-state.edu/ODNR/Forests/stateforests/Shawnee.htm.

PIT STOP: Stop at Mikey’s Restaurant in West Union, Ohio for home-style food and local gossip.

WALK SOFTLY: Watch where you step, to reduce impact and avoid snakes (there are rattlers here). Fires are permitted and downed wood is plentiful.

MORE INFORMATION: Shawnee State Forest, 13291 US 52, W. Portsmouth, OH 45663-8906; (740) 858-6685.

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