Challenging trails throughout Great Seal State Park transport visitors to scenic vistas of distant ridgetops and the Scioto Valley below. These very hills are depicted on the Great Seal of Ohio, from which the park gets its name. Whether it's hiking, mountain biking, or horseback riding, there's a trail for everyone, including a fitness trail. The 1,682-acre park also offers disc golf, a small camping area, and reservable shelterhouses.
Ohio's new COVID-19 Pandemic State Memorial Grove is located near the park's campground. It features Ohio native trees and space for visitors to stop and reflect along its walkway. Dedicated by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and ODNR Director Mary Mertz in spring of 2021, the grove is a memorial to the Ohioans we have lost, as well as the brave frontline workers who provided daily care and service to all of Ohio's citizens during the pandemic.
Great Seal State Park Campground offers Primitive sites, some offer amenities for equestrian campers. It is adjacent to Sugarloaf Mountain and has scenic views of the Scioto Valley below. Pets are permitted on all sites. Reservations are required and may be made online or by calling (866) 644-6727.
An 18-hole course is located in the Ireland picnic area. Bring your own equipment; rental equipment is not available. No fee is charged to play.
Hunting is permitted in designated areas.
Three scenic picnic areas, with tables and grills, are located in separate areas of the park.
Ireland Shelter – This non-electric shelter has a fireplace, charcoal grill, and 12 picnic tables. Maximum occupancy is 50. This shelter is close to the trails, playground, and disc golf. Vault restrooms are nearby.
Vista Shelter – This non-electric shelter is located in the campground and has a charcoal grill and 12 picnic tables. Maximum occupancy is 50. This shelter is close to the trails and vault restrooms are nearby.
Reservations for shelterhouses may be made online or by calling (866) 644-6727.
The trail head is located near the Ireland picnic shelter parking lot. The storybook presented along the trail changes throughout the year. At the beginning of the trail is a Free Little Library where you can choose to take a book home or leave one for others.
- Storybook Trail — 0.5 mile, easy
- Find more Ohio State Park Storybook Trails
- Find more Storybook Trails in Ohio
There are more than 23 miles of trails available to hikers. The terrain varies from steep to gently rolling. It is advised that horses and hikers be well conditioned for these trails. Mountain bikes and horses are permitted on 17 miles of multiple-use trails. The trails cross mostly wooded, hilly terrain with some steep inclines and ravines. These trails are best suited to advanced cyclists.
Multi-use Trails (Hiking, Mountain Biking, Horseback riding):
- Annie’s Mountain Bike Trail - 0.7-mile loop
- Bald Hill (black) - 1 mile
- Bunker Hill (green) - 2.8 miles
- Grouse Rock (red) - 1.2 miles
- Lick Run (purple) - 3.1 miles
- Mt. Ives Trail (orange) - 1.6 miles - This strenuous trail winds along Mt. Ives and provides several scenic vistas
- Rock Garden (green) - 0.5 mile
- Rocky Knob (green) - 1.4 miles
- Sand Hill (pink) - 0.4 mile
- Shawnee Ridge (blue) - 6.3 miles
- Sugarloaf Mountain Trail (yellow) - 0.8 mile - climbs through dense maple-dominated forests to the crest of Sugarloaf - Rises almost 500 feet in less than a quarter mile
- Disc Golf (white) - 1.3 miles, 18 baskets
- Spring Run (brown) - 1.9 miles, includes 10 training stations with instructions
Spring Run Trail may be used for cross-country skiing.
More to Do
- Basketball courts are located in day-use areas of the park
- Playground equipment
- Adena State Memorial
- Ross County Historical Society Museum
- Mound City/Hopewell Culture National Historical Park
COVID-19 Memorial Grove
The COVID-19 Pandemic Memorial Grove is dedicated to the honor of the victims and survivors of COVID-19 as well as all Ohioans who made personal sacrifices to protect others amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Governor Mike DeWine selected Great Seal State Park for the COVID-19 memorial due to its rich history and central location. In the early 1800s, the rolling terrain in the area inspired the hills depicted in Ohio's state seal.
The memorial, which is located near the park’s campground, features 15 newly planted trees surrounding a paved trail. Benches will be added to allow visitors to comfortably reflect on the toll of the pandemic, honor lives lost, pay tribute to courageous frontline workers, and recognize the selfless actions of Ohioans to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
The trees selected for the grove are all native to Ohio, including five white oaks, three redbuds, and one tree each of swamp white oak, northern red oak, chinquapin oak, hackberry, sugar maple, red maple, and flowering dogwood.
The grove is dedicated to the cherished memory of the family members, friends, neighbors, and colleagues who have passed, where we can all find a place of peace and solace to honor and remember them in our grief.
—ODNR Director Mertz
History & Natural Features
Great Seal State Park is located just north of Chillicothe where the history of Ohio and the Native American culture shroud the land. In the mid to late 1700s, the Scioto River Valley was the home of the Shawnee. Three Shawnee towns, all named Chillicothe, were located just below the hills that comprise Great Seal State Park. North of here was the intersection of five major Indian trails. The Scioto River was utilized by the Shawnee as their primary means of transportation from one village to another. The great Shawnee warrior Tecumseh was born near what is now Circleville. Not far from the park is where Logan, chief of the Mingoes, gave his most eloquent speech ending his vengeance against the white settlers for murdering all his relatives.
The first settlers came to the area in the 1790s. In 1796, General Nathaniel Massie, a well-known surveyor and woodsman, organized the settlement of the Scioto Valley by laying out, on his own land, the beautiful town of Chillicothe. Chillicothe was the first capital of the new state of Ohio from 1803 to 1810. (The capital was moved to Zanesville from 1811 to 1812 and then back to Chillicothe until it was permanently moved to Columbus in 1816).
The park takes its name from the state emblem, "The Great Seal of the State of Ohio." The famous seal depicts a sheaf of wheat representing Ohio's agricultural strength and a bundle of 17 arrows symbolizing Ohio as the 17th state to enter the Union. The mountains and rising sun signify that Ohio was one of the first states west of the Alleghenies. The Scioto River flows between Mount Logan and the cultivated fields in the foreground. The design is said to have been the cooperative inspiration of Thomas Worthington, "Father of Ohio Statehood;" Edward Tiffin, the first governor; and William Creighton, first secretary of state. After an all-night meeting at Adena, Worthington's magnificent estate, they viewed the sun rising over Mt. Logan and the hills of what is now Great Seal State Park, thus inspiring the scene of the Great Seal of the State of Ohio.
Ancient history is recorded in the sandstone hills that comprise 1,862-acre Great Seal State Park. It lies upon the Appalachian escarpment, a line of hills stretching across Ohio's midsection which outline the edge of the Appalachian plateau in the state. North and west of the line are glaciated plains while south and east rugged hills extend to the foothills of the mountains. This definition is obvious from the trails in the park where visitors can see Columbus on a clear day to the north and unbroken forested ridges to the south.
These sharply etched ridges harbor a fine stand of hardwoods. Due to the underlying rock strata, one unexpectedly finds chestnut oaks on the slopes and sugar maples on the crests of the hills where the opposite is more common. Spring wildflowers are abundant in the moist coves, while pawpaws and persimmons entice wildlife in autumn.