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Dean State Forest

Located in the unglaciated hill country of extreme south central Ohio, Dean, one of Ohio's first state forests, was established in June 1916.

A wide variety of recreational opportunities exist at Dean State Forest. One popular activity is hunting. Deer, wild turkey, grouse, squirrel and rabbits are hunted in season at Dean. Several small ponds are located on the forest, and used by anglers. Mushroom hunting is becoming an increasingly popular activity.

Approximately 20 miles of bridle trails run throughout the forest and offer users a scenic ride through the woods. Hiking is also permitted on the bridle trails.


The early history of the region centered around Dutch and Irish farmers who emigrated from Pennsylvania. From the early 1800s to about 1900, most of the timber in the area was cut for charcoal to supply blast furnaces for the smelting of locally mined iron ore. The area had also been burned over many times by fires started along the Cincinnati, Hamilton and Dayton Railroad which ran through the forest. Thus, when the land was purchased in 1916 for Dean State Forest, it was largely denuded of trees and was used as an early reforestation experimental area to determine the best species and planting methods. Several of the planting, such as the white pine, red pine and tuliptree along State Route 373 in Texas Hollow, are visible results of those experiments.

In the early 1930s, a Civilian Conservation Camp was located on the forest. Camp personnel constructed and improved access roads and did much timber stand improvement work. Today, Dean contains an unbroken block of 2,759 acres of forest land.

Favorite Things to Do or See

  • Shooting range

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is the forest open for public access hunting? Yes.

Unique Features

  • Shooting range


Dean State Forest Rules

  • Dean State Forest is open to visitors between 6 a.m. and 11p.m. daily. Legal campers, if applicable, hunters, and anglers may be present during other times.
  • Operation of motor vehicles is restricted to roads provided for such travel. Speed limit on state forest roads is 30 MPH unless otherwise posted. Vehicles may not be parked where traffic or access to division service roads or trails are obstructed. OAC 1501: 3-4 Motor Vehicles
  • Horses may be ridden along forest roads or on designated bridle trails.
  • Fires are not permitted except in grills or fire rings provided, or in portable stoves. Fires must be attended to at all times.
  • Trash must be disposed of in receptacles provided.
  • Camping is not permitted.
  • Hunting and fishing are permitted in most state forests as regulated by the Division of Wildlife. Shooting is prohibited within 400 feet of any building, facility, or recreation area and from or across any road or driveway. Discharge of any firearm is not permitted except during lawful hunting season.
  • Public display or consumption of any alcoholic beverage is prohibited.
  • Disturbance, defacement, or destruction of any property, material, natural feature, or vegetation is prohibited. Berries, nuts, and mushrooms may be gathered and removed except from posted areas.
  • State forest boundaries are indicated with yellow blazes on the trees and/or posted signs.
  • Other general rules for visitation are found at OAC 1501:3-2 Rules for Visitation

Rules for Shooting Range

  • Designated ranges are open to public use on a first come, first served basis.
  • No person under 16 years of age shall use the target ranges unless accompanied by a person 18 years or older.
  • All rules of gun safety, firing only downrange toward the backstop and loading weapons only on the range or benches, shall be strictly observed at all times.
  • Hours of operation are 1/2 hour before sunrise until 1/2 hour after sunset.
  • Maximum number of shooters permitted at any one time shall be determined by the capacity of the shooting lanes provided.
  • The range may be closed for maintenance or other reasons at any time as determined by the chief or the chief's authorized agent.
  • No persons shall use targets made of material other than paper without written permission from the chief or the chief's authorized agent.
  • Persons using ranges are responsible for removal of debris from the range, which includes but is not limited to, paper and cardboard targets, target stand brought by the shooter, shell casings, and litter which was generated by the shooter’s activity. Excepting ranges which provide receptacles for debris disposal, shooters must remove all debris from state forest property upon completion of their activity.
  • Persons shall use or fire on ranges only those weapons permitted for legal hunting in Ohio as defined by statute, rule or order of the Division of Wildlife or as approved by the chief or the chief's authorized agent.
  • No person shall use or fire automatic weapons of any kind on a range without written permission from the chief or the chief's designated agent.
  • All tracer and explosive rounds are prohibited.
  • All shooters must wear eye and ear protection.
  • Shooters may use only ranges designated for their specific type of shooting activity (trap range, pistol range, and rifle range). 


Ben Kelley, Forest Manager
(740) 493-2441

Administrative Office:
Pike State Forest
334 Lapperell Road
Latham, OH 45646

Columbus Headquarters: 1-877-247-8733, forestry.comments@dnr.ohio.gov



Call: 911

Phone Number

(740) 532-7228



Available Trails