Lamping Homestead Recreation Area is located in the Marietta Unit of Wayne National Forest. It offers opportunities for camping, fishing, hiking, mountain biking, and picnicking. A 4.5 mile loop trail is open to both hikers and mountain bikers.
We were on vacation, staying in Marietta, OH this past Labor Day weekend. The remnants of a gulf coast hurricane were passing through Ohio bringing unusually warm and humid gulf coast air and occasional rain. We decided to drive north to hike at Lamping Homestead. The weather was less than ideal for hiking, but would provide some surprising encounters with local wildlife.
We left just as a rain squall had stopped and the sun had come out. The drive to the site was interesting. Washington and Monroe counties are beautiful – filled with picturesque farms and rolling hills. Once we got close, our GPS insisted on taking us via every narrow gravel road in the area. (We discuss GPS limitations in an earlier post).
The trail head is in a fairly isolated portion of Wayne National Forest. Since it was Labor Day weekend, there were a few vehicles in the parking lot belonging to folks camping at the site for the weekend. There is a secluded grove where people had set up tents and another area by the lake. The site includes vault toilets. You have to bring your own water as none is available on site.
The area had been home to the early settlers – the Lamping family in the 1800′s. They did not stay in the area long. Members of the family who died from illness & disease are buried in a small family cemetery accessible from a side trail on the site. The Lamping home and buildings from later inhabitants of the area are all gone.
From the parking lot, you can see an open field leading to a four-acre lake. The trail begins at the lake. It is a loop, so once at the lake you can proceed in either direction. We walked the larger loop trail for a total distance of 4.5 miles. A connector trail bisects the loop if you wish to do a shorter hike (1.8 miles). The trail is marked with white diamond markers.
The terrain at Lamping Homestead is quite hilly. The trail cuts across hills, goes down into hollows, across ridge-lines and along the sides of steep hills. The area is heavily wooded with small streams crisscrossing the trail.
One of the highlights of the trip was several encounters with Eastern Box turtles. These turtles dwell in heavily wooded areas and tend to hide among leaf litter and forest ground cover where their shell’s natural coloration lets them blend in. However, they tend to be more active in hot humid weather after a rain.
We noticed our first turtle slowing crawling along the trail. The second was off to the side and was “hiding” from us behind some twigs. When frightened, these box turtles can pull their head, limbs, and tail completely into their shell. The shell is hinged closing completely as a defense against predators.
In the wild box turtles can live up 40-50 and perhaps as long as 100 years. Box turtle gender can be determined by eye color – males have red eyes, females have brown. We had encountered two male turtles.
We finished the hike, but ran out of water shortly before the end (due to heat / humidity). Fortunately, we kept a large bottle of extra water in the car.
After the hike, we were driving slowly along a narrow gravel road when Deb noticed a third box turtle in the middle of the road. Deb stopped the car and I got out. I turtle continued its slow crawl across the road, from left to right. I went over and picked up the turtle, which immediately ducked into its shell. I gently placed the turtle just past the right side of the road and returned to the car.
Note: the information kiosk at the site warns of black bears in the area. If camping at this site – take the precaution of storing all food in bear proof containers away from your camping area. We did not encounter any bears on our hike, only turtles… Oh! and wildflowers.
Lamping Homestead Recreation Area is located in Monroe County in the Marietta Unit of Wayne National Forest.
- TrekOhio: Monroe County Parks & Preserves (including Lamping Homestead)
- Northeast Ohio Backpacking Club has a trail map here
- Our thanks to the Forest Service and volunteer trail maintainers who spent hundreds of hours clearing the trail after the summer 2012 wind storm.
- TrekOhio: Ohio’s 12 species of turtles at a glance
- Information about Eastern Box Turtles