Harrison State Forest was purchased in 1961. A substantial portion of the land has been strip mined for coal. However, the production of acid mine water is minimal because of the neutralizing effect of limestone deposits.
The majority of unstripped lands are located on ridges or in valleys, and are in forest cover. Subsequent reforestation and installation of recreation facilities, funded through the Appalachian Regional Development Act of 1965 and the Ohio Capital Improvements program, have restored the area to a condition suitable for public use. Two areas were reforested in 1992 and 1993. More than 100,000 trees were planted on 186 acres.
Harrison State Forest is located in Harrison County, approximately three miles north of Cadiz, east of State Route 9. The primary area lies north of County Road 13, while two smaller tracts are located south of County Road 13.
Two campgrounds equipped with picnic tables, fire rings, and vault latrines are available. Campers must provide their own water. Seven family campsites are located at Ronsheim Campground while 20 sites accommodating family and/or horse campers are available at the Trailriders Campground. Campers must self-register. Law enforcement officers patrol the area, and can familiarize visitors with camping regulations. There is no charge for camping.
Twenty miles of combined bridle and hiking trails are located throughout the state forest. Parking areas are strategically located at trail intersections.
A 100-yard shooting range is provided for the sportsman or shooting enthusiast to practice marksmanship or sight-in firearms for accuracy. The area is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Persons under 16 years of age must be accompanied by a person of legal age while discharging firearms. Exercise extreme caution and observe all rules of gun safety when using this area.
Favorite Things to Do or See
- Camp at the Trailrider’s Family/Bridle campground or the Ronsheim Campground
- Shoot at the Harrison State Forest Shooting Range
- Horseback ride on the Harrison State Forest Bridle Trail System
- Fish one of the many ponds located on the Forest
- Visit the forest for public use hunting
Frequently Asked Questions
- Is the camping free of charge? Yes.
- Is the shooting range free of charge? Yes.
- Is Harrison State Forest open for ATV use? No.
- Are the ponds at the forest open for fishing? Yes.
- Is the forest open for public use hunting? Yes.
Ronsheim Dam, Harrison State Forest Bridle Trail System.
Rules for Harrison State Forest
- Harrison 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 only permitted on designated areas for such use. OAC 1501:3-3 Camping
- 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
Target Range Rules
- Designated ranges are open to public use on a first come, first serve basis.
- 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 use are one-half hour before sunrise to one-half 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 his authorized agent.
- No persons shall use targets made of material other than paper or clay, without written permission from the chief or his 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 his authorized agent.
- No person shall use or fire centerfire rifles on ranges of fifty yards or less in length.
- No person shall use or fire automatic weapons of any kind on a range without written permission from the chief or his 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).
- The use of shotgun slugs is prohibited at trap ranges.
Will McCormick, Forest Manager: (740) 266-6021
Fernwood State Forest
11 Township Road 181
Bloomingdale, OH 43910