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Scioto Trail State Park, Chillicothe

#5 of 10 in Things to do in Chillicothe
State Park · Hidden Gem · Nature / Park
Located in the Appalachian foothills bordering the Scioto River, the park's rugged ridgetops and wooded valleys support a host of natural wonders. This densely forested hill country is reminiscent of the southern Appalachians supporting a magnificent stand of oak and hickory. In spring, the forest trails are lined with flowering dogwood and redbud trees. The forest floor displays woodland wildflowers including spring beauties, Dutchman's breeches, wild blue phlox and wild geranium. Ferns, mosses and lichens coat the sandstone outcroppings. Mushroom hunters delight in the abundance of the delicious morel mushroom.

The remoteness of the area and dense forest provides excellent habitat for some of Ohio's most elusive wildlife. Wild turkey populations are thriving in this region along with ruffed grouse and white-tailed deer. Small mammals of Scioto Trail include red fox, skunk, opossum, gray squirrel and raccoon among many others. Rare sightings of bobcat and black bear have been reported. Many reptiles and amphibians find the woodlands and streams of the area desirable.

The Shawnee utilized the river as their primary means of transportation from one village to another. The Scioto Trail was an Indian trail that followed the Scioto River from northern Ohio to the Kentucky hunting grounds. The trail was later used by settlers who came upriver from Portsmouth to the first capital of Ohio--Chillicothe. There is a replica of the first church in the area, Chillicothe's First Presbyterian, in Caldwell Lake Hollow. This plain log structure gives testimony to the simple lifestyle of early Ohioans.

Today the park offers 55 electric campsites at the wooded area of Caldwell Lake (one of two small lakes at the park) and 18 hike-in non-electric sites across from Stewart Lake.

Seasonal camp check-in/store available on weekends near Caldwell Lake and offers snacks, souvenirs, camping supplies, and paddle boat rentals

Basketball and horseshoe courts are located in the campground

Both lakes allow boating with electric motors only. Canoeing is excellent on these quiet waters. A launch ramp is available at Caldwell Lake.

Bluegill, bass, catfish, and trout provide good catches for anglers. A valid Ohio fishing license is required.

A small, unguarded wading beach near the campground is open during daylight hours. Swimming is permitted during daylight hours. Pets are not permitted on swimming beaches.


One trail allows hiking-only:

Deborad Vista Trail - 2.5 Miles - Moderate

Two trails at the park allow biking and hiking:

Church Hollow Trail - 2 Miles - Difficult

3-C Trail - 1 Mile - Moderate

The newer trail, The Friendship trail, is an easier trail with fewer uphill climbs and is a 1/2 mile long or a 1 mile loop.

A portion of the Buckeye Trail which links the four corners of Ohio passes through the state forest.

Bridle trails wind through the state forest.

Additional basketball and horseshoe courts, along with a volleyball court and playground, are offered in the day-use area of the park near Stewart Lake.

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Scioto Trail State Park reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
57 reviews
  • My cousin and I hiked a few of the trails and really enjoyed the location. The roads and trails seemed well maintained and despite the heat, we had a nice time escaping the congestion of the city.  more »
  • Took my granddaughter to Scioto Trails to fish and roam around. It’s a beautiful, relaxing area for people or all ages. Highly recommend.  more »
  • Very nice campground. Wooded, peaceful. Electricity but no water hookups, which helps keep those suburbanites who don't like wilderness, away. Which is a good thing.
  • Beautiful place for an evening float. The water has a great deal of growth in it and the banks are not as well-maintained as a few years ago, but overall a great place to watch the sun set.

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