Posted in Hiking, Park visit

Burr Oak State Park: Hiking the Upper Loop

We spent the Fourth of July weekend at Burr Oak State Park Lodge. While there we hiked what I’m calling the “upper loop.” It is a 4.2 mile hike that begins at the parking lot where Mountville Road terminates at Burr Oak Lake. The terrain for this hike is hilly with a total elevation gain of 1,315.5 ft. During a portion of the hike there were glimpses of the lake through the trees.

Trail passing a yellow blaze.

Getting oriented

We traced our hike using the My Tracks Android app. Below is a map showing our route.

This is a GPS trace of our hike recorded using the “My Tracks” Android app. We hiked in the counter-clockwise direction, first following the blue blazes while going south along the shoreline, then following the white blazes in the interior while going north.

And here is a photo showing a more comprehensive view of the park’s hiking trails. Our hike is highlighted in white. In an earlier post we describe hiking the southern portion of these trails, as well as the park’s lodge and how to get to the park.

This is a photo of the trail map for the park. During this trip we hiked the trail highlighted in white, what I’m calling the “upper loop”. We went counter-clockwise, following the shoreline first, then did the inland portion.

Below is a screenshot of the elevation chart for this hike as recorded by the My Tracks app.

This elevation chart shows us going up and down during our hike. The total elevation gain was 1,315.5 ft.

Outbound Hike

The trail head for the hike is at Dock #3 on Burr Oak Lake. A blue and white blazed connector trail took us south from the trailhead to the start of the loop. Our hike followed a section of the Buckeye Trail that followed the shore of the lake. Athens and Morgan counties are in the foothills on the Appalachians, so the trail consisted of a series of hill climbs and descents into stream filled ravines. The area is heavily forested, so we spent most of the hike under the forest canopy. For the most part the trail was quite clear and in a couple places someone had recently cut down the weeds.

At the parking lot we were greeted by this Northern Rough-winged Swallow (Stelgidopteryx serripennis).
This is the trailhead for the connector trail to the loop. It’s right off the parking lot.
Since the connector trail leads to numerous other trail, it is blazed with many colors.
This bridge is at the point where the connector trail from the parking lot joins the loop. To start hiking the loop in the counterclockwise direction, we turned right immediately after the bridge and followed the blue blazes of the Buckeye Trail. The trail to the left immediately after the bridge displays the white blazes of the Buckeye Loop Trail (which is where we exited the loop)
Bob passing through a grassy area of the trail. This was unusual. Most of the trail was quite clear, even to the point of having been weed-whacked at a few places.
A rocky ledge along a stream.
Trail on a hillside.
Bob on the trail near a ravine.
Although this stream bed was dry when we passed through, I’m assuming there’s water here in the spring. There was no footbridge to cross it.
A ground cover of ground cedar. Ground cedar is an evergreen, spore-bearing plant.
Trail passing by a ravine.

The trail was well marked with the usual Buckeye Trail blue blazes and featured wooden bridges over stream crossings. At one point there was even a picnic table with a view of the lake. The return trail of the loop was the white blazed Buckeye Loop trail. I had been worried about missing the intersection or going the wrong way – which would have resulted in a very long hike indeed. No worries, the intersection was very well labeled with signs pointing the correct way.

Deb stops at a picnic table along the trail.
From the trail we noticed someone fishing from his boat.
Bob on the trail on a steep hillside.
To hike the upper loop in a counter-clockwise direction, you go to the right and follow the Buckeye Loop Trail, marked by white blazes.
Following the white blazes.
Inbound Hike

The return trail is somewhat less hilly and eventually leads out of the forest to a large open area. This is the Burr Oak group camp. It was empty the the day of our hike. It featured picnic tables, a shelter and out houses. Past the shelter is a dirt access road for the group camp. We followed the road to the left about 30 feet to another an open field and our trail continued through the field and then back into the woods. We soon found ourselves back at the blue / white connector trail and made our way back to the parking area.

Approaching the Burr Oak group camp. Once your get to the lawn, the trail isn’t as obvious, but there are white blazes. Just be on the lookout for them.
Trail passing through campground area toward treeline.
The white blaze on this light pole drew us over the road. Turn left and follow the road.
Another white blaze on the tree shows that the trail follows the road for a while.
After following the road a short while, you get into the campground area and lawn. After walking past a water fountain, you’ll see a mown trail once again, and a white blaze on the tree to the left. Go down the mown path.
Shortly afterwards, the trail goes back into the woods.
As soon as we cross this bridge we will have finished the loop. The remainder of the trail is the connector loop back to the parking lot. This is the same bridge pictured earlier here.

The connector trail empties out near this lakeside campsite. The parking lot is nearby.

The trail empties out near this lake-side campsite.
Additional Information


Directions to trail head: From the lodge, follow the park road to the park entrance. Turn left on SR 78. Take SR 78 to the intersection with CR 14 and turn left onto CR 14. Follow CR 14 all the way to the dock and park in the parking lot by the dock. You will drive past a small church and the entrance to the group camp on the way. From the parking lot, you’ll see the docks, a latrine building, and just beyond a small camping area on the lake. Walk towards the camping area. At the end of the camping area, you’ll see a sign for the trail head on the left and a path leading up hill. This is the start of the trail. My GPS showed a total distance of 4.2 miles.

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© Deborah Platt, Robert Platt and 2012 to 2021

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