Nestled within the beautiful 9,000-acre Scioto Trail State Forest in Ross County, Scioto Trail State Park’s 218 acres are a wooded refuge. Just south of Chillicothe, the ridgetops and winding forest roads offer breathtaking vistas of southern Ohio’s Scioto River Valley. The beauty and remoteness of Scioto Trail offers the best of escapes to park visitors. Camping, fishing and paddling are just a few of the adventures awaiting outdoor enthusiasts.
Caldwell Lake offers boating for hand-powered vessels or electric-only motors; it's a great paddling lake. There is one boat ramp. Kayaks, canoes and paddle boats can be rented seasonally from the campground check-in station.
The Scioto Trail State Park Campground offers wooded Electric campsites near Caldwell Lake and hike-in Primitive sites at the Stewart Lake camp area. Reservations are required. Reserve online or by calling (866) 644-6727.
Bluegill, bass, catfish and trout provide good catches for anglers.
Hunting is not permitted in the state park, but the adjacent state forest offers excellent hunting for deer, squirrel, grouse and turkey.
Three scenic areas offer excellent picnicking opportunities. Tables and grills are provided.
A small, unguarded wading beach near the campground is open during daylight hours. Swimming is permitted in designated areas only. Please exercise caution while swimming at the beach. Pets are NOT permitted on the swimming beach.
- BeachGuard — water quality reports, Memorial Day to Labor Day, from Ohio Dept. of Health
Three trails at the park allow biking and hiking:
- Church Hollow Trail - 2 miles, difficult
- 3-C Trail - 1 mile, moderate
- Friendship Trail - 0.4 mile, family-friendly
Under the proper winter conditions, visitors can enjoy ice fishing.
More to Do
- Log Church, a restored replica of the oldest Presbyterian Church in the Northwest territory, is located in the Caldwell Lake camping area.
- Playground, basketball and horseshoe courts
History & Natural Features
Scioto Trail State Park is nestled in an area rich with reminders of Ohio’s prehistoric people. These Mound Builders left extensive earthworks throughout the Scioto River Valley and its tributaries. Serpent Mound, in northeastern Adams County, is a 1,000-foot snake effigy mound built by the Adenas. Other smaller Adena mounds exist in Ross County. The Adena culture is named after the estate of early Ohio statesman, Thomas Worthington. Adena, near Chillicothe, was the site of the first mound excavation attributed to these prehistoric people.
Other extensive earthworks exist north of Chillicothe on the Scioto floodplain. Mound City is attributed to a more advanced culture called the Hopewells. Other Hopewell mounds in the region include Seip Mound, Spruce Hill and Fort Hill. The importance of the Scioto River to Ohio’s development carried through from these prehistoric peoples to the Shawnee and first pioneer settlers.
The Shawnee used the river as their primary means of transportation from one village to another. The Scioto Trail was a Native American trail that followed the Scioto River from northern Ohio to the Kentucky hunting grounds. The trail was later used by settlers who traveled upriver from Portsmouth to the first capital of Ohio — Chillicothe. Log Church, in Caldwell Lake Hollow, is a replica of the first church in the area, Chillicothe’s First Presbyterian. This plain log structure gives testimony to the simple lifestyle of early Ohioans.
The first European settlers came to the area in the 1790s. In 1796, General Nathaniel Massie and a small group of settlers founded the town of Chillicothe. The land west of the Scioto River and east of the Little Miami River was set aside for Virginia veterans of the Revolution. Land allotments were based on time served and rank of these soldiers.
Initial purchases of land for the park and forest began in 1922. Most of the major development took place in the 1930s during the original Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) era. CCC crews constructed most of the roads, lakes and original recreational facilities of the region.
A monument erected in 1842 stood at the entrance of Scioto Trail State Forest to commemorate William Hewitt. As a hermit, he lived for fourteen years in a cave near what is now the park and surrounding forest. Hewitt died in 1838 at the age of 70 after becoming a local legend. Eventually, the cave was whittled away by highway development, and the monument was moved 1,000 feet north of its original site. The monument has since been relocated near the Log Church in the park campground.
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.