Ohio’s Scioto Trail State Park

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This is a profile of Scioto Trail State Park I wrote for an online magazine that is no longer active. The park lies south of Chillicothe, right off of US 23. A lunch visit to Sumburger Drive-In combined with a hiking trip at Scioto Trail makes for a perfect Southern Ohio day trip.

Enjoy the article:


Nestled in a state forest overlooking the Scioto River Valley, Scioto Trail State Park is a quaint park perfect for quick getaway for hiking or an overnight camp out. Scenic hiking trails and beautiful Caldwell Lake are the highlights of Scioto Trail, which is located off of US Route 23, south of Chillicothe.

Scioto Trail is named for the famous Indian trail that followed the Scioto River from North Central Ohio to the Indian hunting grounds in Kentucky. It was developed as part of the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s.

Scioto Trail State Park Features

  • Park Size: approximately 250 acres, with 30 acres of water in 2 lakes
  • Camping: 55 sites (40 electric) at Caldwell Lake, 18 non-electric sites at Stewart Lake
  • Five miles of hiking trails
  • Launch ramp at Caldwell Lake for boating (electric motors only)
  • Fishing in both lakes (with a valid Ohio fishing license)

A Quick Escape to Nature

The entrance to Scioto Trail is easy to miss when traveling south on US Route 23. The winding park entrance road perfectly sets an escapist mood with its canopy of forest removing most traces of civilization from view. Caldwell Lake, which is the center of most of the park’s activities, is accessible by a left turn off of the main park road.

Scioto Trail State Park Autumn

Scioto Trail State Park is beautiful during the fall.

Caldwell Lake is a photogenic gem, especially with fall colors in full bloom. A small island with a gazebo is accessible by a bridge on the lake’s north shore. Fishing is allowed in both Caldwell Lake and the smaller Stewart Lake (off of the main park road closer to the entrance) with a valid Ohio Fishing License. Bluegill, Trout and Catfish are all found in abundance at Scioto Trail.

Hiking Trails and Camping

Scioto Trail features five miles of hiking trails with the trail heads centered around the Caldwell Lake area. Both the 3C Trail and Church Hollow Trail are scenic; they climb up and down the small hills that surround the lake. Of particular interest is the restored Old Log Church, which is a replica of the oldest Presbyterian Church in the Northwest Territory.

Scioto Trail State Park

Looking down from the dam at Scioto Trail State Park.

The campground at Scioto Trail features 40 electric sites, with non-electric sites available both at the main campground and at a smaller one at Stewart Lake. There are also two camper-cabins available for rental. The campground also has a small camp store.

Anyone looking to escape one of Ohio’s metropolitan areas for a quick getaway to nature would enjoy a trip to Scioto Trail. This small photogenic park is one of Ohio’s forgotten gems.

The following book is an indispensable guide to Ohio, her geology, and her underappreciated natural beauty. Highly Recommended!

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