Shawnee State Park in southern Ohio offers over 1,000 acres for backpacking, boating, camping, and more! Check out this recreation area not far from Portsmouth.
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Along the Appalachian plateau, which stretches across much of eastern Kentucky and Ohio, you'll find foothills and rivers galore.
It's a promising area for hiking and boating, which is exactly what Shawnee State Park in southern Ohio is known for.
If you're in the Portsmouth, Ohio, area and looking for an outdoor gateway, this state park is within easy distance. And it also has a pretty nice lodge!
Here's what to look for if you visit.
Lodging at Shawnee State Park
There are two campgrounds, a couple of cabins, and a lodge at the park.
The lodge is beautiful, with comfortable places to lounge, play, and eat. You'll find it at the north end of the park.
Indoor and outdoor pools mean you can enjoy a swim no matter what the weather is like outside.
If the weather's not so great, families might also appreciate the game room.
The Smokehouse Restaurant and the Tecumseh Lounge offer hearty meals in their dining areas. Just be sure to check the days and times they're open.
There are also upstairs and downstairs lounges and a nice deck with chairs to sit out on and enjoy the view.
Want to camp instead? At the large Turkey Creek Campground, you can reserve a campsite or a cabin year-round. The cabins are lightly furnished, but you'll bring your own bedding.
The Turkey Creek Campground has laundry and bathhouse facilities.
You can also rent a boat at the camp office. There's a miniature golf course nearby, as well as other sporting equipment available.
The Ohio River Campground, about seven miles southeast, is much smaller, with only a dozen sites available. It's close to the marina, though.
You can find more information, as well as make reservations, on the park's official website.
Hitting the Trails
Whether you're interested in a short or a (very) long hike, Shawnee State Park has options!
There's the 40-mile backpacking trail that starts near the north end of Turkey Creek Lake. You can also curtail it to a shorter 17 or 23 miles if you need to.
Just be sure to register at the spot provided near the parking lot before you head out. There are designated camping areas along the way.
Other trails range from half a mile to over seven miles. Plan ahead for steep terrain on some of the trails.
There are even a few short mountain biking trails near the lodge. Just starting out with this hobby? See my guide to mountain biking gear for beginners.
Spending Time on the Water
Turkey Creek Lake is the largest of the two lakes within the park boundaries. Both it and Roosevelt Lake do have boat launches, as well as beach areas.
As mentioned above, you can rent boats at the Turkey Creek campground office during the summer, including rowboats, kayaks, and paddleboards.
If you're interested in going fishing, the lakes are both stocked.
Other Activities at Shawnee State Park
In addition to hiking, camping, and boating, the state park also offers an archery range (though you'll need your own equipment), a disc golf course, horseback riding trails, a nature center, and picnic shelters that can be reserved for group events.
The small nature center is located between the two lakes. It has fossil displays and information about local history, plants and animals.
The park hosts special programs, like group hikes, throughout the year. Check their Facebook page for updates.
Have you visited or gone backpacking at Shawnee State Park? Let us know in the comments!