Posted in Hiking, Park review, Southeastern Ohio

Shawnee State Park

The forested hills of Shawnee State Park are located at Ohio’s southernmost tip. The park is large at 1,095 acres, but it’s dwarfed by the surrounding Shawnee State Forest. At 63,000 acres, Shawnee State Forest is Ohio’s largest state forest. The combined park and forest have 72 miles of trails including the 60 mile Shawnee State Forest backpack trail. The area also features more than 75 miles of bridle trails.

Casting a line from the shore of Turkey Creek Lake

There are two lakes Roosevelt and Turkey Creek which offer fishing, boating, and a beach. There is also a marina on the Ohio river.

No more than 5 trout a day.
Cattails near the creek inlet

A large campground offers over 100 sites, additional camp sites for backpackers can be found on the Shawnee Forest backpack trail. The park also features a large 50 room lodge and 25 cottages that can be rented. There is an 18 hole golf course and pro-shop for visitors. For casual, family fun, check out the miniature golf course. You can also rent a variety bikes, oars, corn holes, etc.

Forgot to bring a cornhole board? No problem!
Rent a bike!

The park was created in 1922 and much of the infrastructure such as the lakes and the roads were built by the CCC in the 1930’s. A CCC cabin from that era still stands next to the more modern nature center.

Depression-era, CCC cabin. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) built most of the infrastructure at Ohio’s parks.
Exhibit in the Nature Center

When we visited the nature center, it was staffed by a park naturalist and an intern and we were permitted to photograph and handle some of the local reptiles and amphibians. Deb wrote about this in her posting entitled: Nature Center at Shawnee State Park. We also stopped by the park office. Guests were invited to record what they had seen at the park.


With its vast size and many trails, Shawnee is a great place for hikers. For day hikers, there is a 7.2 mile Shawnee Forest Day Hike Trail. Park near the nature center. Walk to the parking lot entrance and cross SR 125. The trail head will be to your left.

The day we went to Shawnee, we were still recovering from the 12 mile hike at Lake Vesuvius the previous day. Instead, we opted for the shorter 2 mile Lookout Trail. This trail starts at the parking area just south of Roosevelt Lake. The trail goes up to a ridge line. A short spur leads to an overlook. The trail then follows the ridgeline and loops back down exiting at the original trail head. The trail was marked with pink blazes. The naturalist who had recommended the trail told us it was marked with left-over paint after they had painted the interior of the nature center. Here are a few scenes from Lookout Trail.

Trailhead for the Lookout Trail. There was a scary sign about ticks here, but we managed to complete the hike without any ticks bothering us. Of course we bathed in DEET after reading the sign.
Deciduous trees lining the trail.
Conifers along the trail.
I bet the CCC built these stairs.
The trail itself is a loop. A spur off the loop leads to the lookout point.
View from the Lookout Point; it looks like there used to be a platform here. After the leaves drop, this should be a better view.
Zooming through the foliage at the lookout point.
Near a clearing next to the trail, Deb caught sight of these Great Blue Lobelia.

I felt I only saw a small part of Shawnee, but I liked what I saw. At some point, I’ll have to go back and explore much more of the park.

Note: southern Ohio is home to the timber rattlesnake. For the most part, this endangered snake would rather flee than fight. Nevertheless, be careful about downed logs. Step on the log first rather than immediately over. When you step off, your leg will be farther from the log in case a snake had hidden under it. Also if you hear a rattle on the trail (sounds like ‘ssshhhh’), back away from the sound.

Additional information
  • TrekOhio: Scioto County Parks & Preserves — this is the county where Shawnee State Park is located. On this page there are links to the official site, park-related maps, and information on nearby parks and preserves.
  • TrekOhio: Nature Center at Shawnee State Park — We discuss what the nature center is like and what animals are there.

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© Deborah Platt, Robert Platt and 2012 to 2021

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