Backpacking at Mohican-Memorial State Forest
Lay of the Land
Consider it a Midwestern jungle. Mohican-Memorial State Forest, one of the most popular tourist destinations in Ohio, covers 4,525 acres of protected dense green forest. While easily accessible from Interstate 71, Mohican provides a total immersion into the remote wilderness. The land was recovered in the 1920s by The Ohio Division of Forestry who successfully reforested the area by planting a variety of trees that continue to flourish on the land today. The Civilian Conservation Corps joined the cause in the 1930s planting over 2 million trees and building bridges, trails and two fire towers throughout the forest. White and red pine, oak, maple, hickory, aspen, and cherry trees amongst others create a collage of vegetation in the park. The greenery forms a thick canopy over the land, shading the trails and keeping the park cool.
A shine stands on a section of the forest known as the Memorial Forest Shrine Park, 270 acres dedicated to over 20,000 American men and women who lost their lives protecting our country in WWII, the Korean War, Vietnam, and the Persian Gulf War.
In the center of Mohican-Memorial State Forest is Mohican State Park, 1,110 acres of recreational land that is used year-round. The park offers groomed hiking and biking trails, bridle trails, picnic areas, and campsites where visitors can hike, bike, ride horses, fish, and snowmobile among other recreational activities. The trails are easy to locate, follow, and complete, while offering a variety of scenic routes through the forest, along the Mohican River, up to the Dam, and along the Hemlock Gorge to name a few. The park has a taste of everything, from steep climbs through woodsy trails to breezy flat paths across open meadows.
Hiking Trails: Park vs. Forest
Mohican State Park
Mohican-Memorial State Forest
Narrow, Less marked
Where to Hike
Short & Easy Trails
If you're looking for a short, easy hike that only goes a few miles, consider the hikes in Mohican State Park. Spanning 3/4 mile to 3 miles, and ranging from easy to moderately difficult, the trails in the park offer something for everyone.
The scenery won't disappoint with the flowing river, waterfalls, rock formations and variety of trees and wildflowers to soak in.
The most difficult trail, Hog Hollow, stands out from the rest with its steep incline up the hillside to the fire tower. This trail starts along a creek, weaving over the water on wooden bridges. After a sharp turn, the trail takes a steep incline up into the forest where it reduces to a moderate incline. The trail continues on a dirt path blanketed with pine needles as it winds through a tall pine forest. The hiker is rewarded with a scenic view from the top of the fire tower and an easy downhill journey back down to the covered bridge.
For an easy, longer hike, combine Hemlock Gorge Trail and Lyons Falls Trail. These two trails span the length of the park revealing views of the breathtaking Gorge on the east side and several views of Lyons Falls on the west side. The two trails start in the same area near the Covered Bridge, so you can park in one location and choose which direction to hike the 9.3 mile trail.
For a quick description of all the hikes and trails at Mohican State Park, visit:
The link above will also provide a trail map and information on horseback riding.
Long & Moderate Trails
For a longer hike, visitors should consider hiking the 25 Mile Loop in Mohican-Memorial State Forest. Hikers will wind through a dense, green forest along steep edges of the Gorge created by glacier meltwater runoff. Cool breezes drift through the shaded forest nudging the tall trees that moan and creak under the stress of the wind. The creaking of the trees can be startling, as it is at times the only noise heard in the forest. The 25 Mile Loop is less populated than the short hikes in Mohican State Park, and a giant step off the grid as far as civilization goes. You won't find any restrooms, water fountains, or trash cans along this trail. If you're looking for an off-the-map, big national park feel, this is the perfect trail to launch you into the wilderness.
There are two trailheads for the 25 Mile Loop. One is located on SR3 directly across from the main campground area, and the other off of SR97 near the Memorial Shrine. Both trailheads have parking and are easy to locate.
Though this trail is designated for mountain biking, hikers are welcome to use the trail. It is recommended that visitors hike clockwise and bike counterclockwise.
Park & Pack Sites
Park and Pack Sites 1-4 are located south of SR 97, just southeast of the Shrine. Site 7 stands alone just north of SR 97, and Sites 5 and 6 are the most secluded, southeast of the park just off of Pine Run.
Just north of the Mohican River on the northeast corner of the forest are Park & Pack Sites 8, 9, and 10. These three sites are easily accessible from road T-3006 which dead ends at the parking lot for all three campsites. These sites are only a few miles from the State Park Campground Office and SR 3. They are also an easy drive from the Forest Office located just southwest of the Hickory Ridge area. These sites are preferable for an easy drive in and out of the park and easy accessibility to the park campground and facilities.
Before camping at any of the Park and Pack Sites you must sign up at the Forest Office located just up the road from the Covered Bridge. A bonus of signing up before heading directly to a site is being able to see the list of available campsites for each night. If the campsite you wanted is occupied there is still time to change the game plan and choose a vacant site.
Park & Pack Site Comparison
up to 10 tents
2 stumps, log at each clearing
Park & Pack Site 8
Site 8 is the first site off the trail connecting Sites 8-10. However, it's easily accessibility does not make it any less private. Site 8 is located less than half a mile from the parking lot, down a narrow trail into a sizable clearing. The site has a a fire pit, several benches and two clearings off of the main area. Four to six hikers could comfortably camp with 2-3 tents or more at this site, depending on privacy preference. This site is a cozy nook blanketed by the forest and secluded from any trail traffic. There is a section of trail that runs alongside the site, but it has light traffic.
Park & Pack Site 9
Site 9 is located just down the trail from Site 8 and is a much larger, open site. There are several clearings off of the main fire pit clearing, but they are not secluded or private. There is plenty of space for 5-6 tents, perfect for a large group or family. The site has a woodsy feel from the exposed trunks that surround the area. While there is a space to gather around the fire, there is minimal seating.
Park & Pack Site 10
Site 10 is located farther away from Sites 8 and 9 off the same trail. The site has its own trail that leads up to the clearing from the main trail connecting sites 8-10. It is a unique site for both its size and location overlooking the Gorge. The site expands along the edge of the Gorge with room for tents along the overlook. A bonus is the large clearing with room for up to 10 tents. The site has a fire pit with minimal seating, but plenty of room for a crowd.
A gem amidst the rolling hills of Central Ohio, Mohican State Park & Forest are a must-see for both Ohioans and visitors. The scenic gorge, river, wildlife and waterfalls create a Midwestern jungle synonymously easy to access and deeply secluded into a backpacker's paradise. Visit the sites in the park for a relaxing day trip or brave the forest along the 25 Mile Loop for a refreshing adventure through the reforested canopy. Visit Ohio as it was hundreds of years ago, the protected land that stands as a memorial to our troops and a reminder of what they fought so hard to protect.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
We have never been to the Mohican-Memorial State Forest. We have a small, self-contained camper. I hate campgrounds; we want to experience the forest, not people. Is there somewhere to go for this?
While I've never brought a camper there, I've been through the campground. Fortunately, though it is busy, the spots are spaced apart nicely and backed up to the forest, so it should be peaceful. I would recommend one of the sites on the edge of the campground to try and decrease noise.