Zaleski State Forest Backpack Trail, Ohio - Backpacker

Zaleski State Forest Backpack Trail, Ohio

An Ohio trail that reclaimed land from the ore era.

Near the trailhead for the Zaleski State Forest Backpack Trail stands the Hope Furnace, a hulking reminder of a time when Ohio's forests were prized as fuel for smelting iron ore. The Zaleski is a journey through Buckeye history, as well as a stiff weekend workout. The discerning eye can discover remains of long-deserted mining towns, pioneer cemeteries, and Native American ceremonial mounds. There's even a brakeman's ghost said to haunt the local Moonville graveyard. But in the end, the real draw is the forest of second-growth maple, hickory, and oak that dips and rolls across Zaleski State Forest's 27,000-plus acres. The era of iron has come and gone, and the woodlands have reclaimed what was rightfully theirs.


LENGHT: 23.5 miles.

RATING: Moderate to difficult. Elevation changes of up to 500 feet are common. There are limited water sources so pack it in.

WHERE: The southern trailhead is about 90 minutes southeast of Columbus. Take I-33 south to Nelsonville, then OH 278 south for about 15 miles toward Lake Hope. The trailhead parking lot is across from the Hope Furnace historic site.

MAPS: A comprehensive map is available at the state forest address below.

CONTACT: Zaleski State Forest, Zaleski, OH 45698; (740) 596-5781.