The Little Smokies of Ohio
Location: Shawnee State Forest - Portsmouth, OH
General Rules and Regulations: Camping is only permitted in designated campsites unless you request a special backcountry camping permit. Free self registration is required at the trail head.
Please see the Ohio DNR website for details on the rules.
Trip Highlights: 2 days/1 night; temps ranged from mid 20s to low 60s
Menu: Red beans & rice, beef & beans with rice & Fritos, blueberry breakfast biscuits and various snacks
Shelter: DIY gathered end hammock, Hammock Gear 0 degree underquilt and Underground Quilt 20 degree top quilt, Warbonnet Outdoors Mamajamba tarp
Max had a foam pad, Cosco down throw & DIY synthetic quilt with DIY down vest.
According to the DNR Shawnee State Forest is 63,747 acres, including 8,000 of designated wilderness area, with about 60 miles of backpacking trails. The forest is the largest state forest in Ohio. The area is often referred to as The Little Smokies of Ohio.
Max and I headed out early Saturday morning and got to the trail head a little before 9:00 AM. We met up with our crew and headed out on the trail. The plan was to stop at either camp 7, camp 6 or use the backcountry permit I requested. My goal was just to get out and relax and get away from some of the nonsense going on. We agreed to just play it by ear and stop where we felt like.
With the short days hiker's midnight felt like 8:00 PM. After the sun set the temperature was dropping about 2 degrees every 20 minutes. It ended up bottoming out around 24 degrees. Max shared is down blanket until we retired to the hammock around 9:30 PM. This would the coldest I've camped with Max. Even though I thought he would stay warm with his down vest, down blanket and synthetic quilt, I'm always nervous that he will move in the night and come out from under the insulation. Thankfully, he was worn out enough that he only got up once in the night. I tucked him back in and we both went back to sleep. The supermoon made a great night light - no headlamps needed.
We awoke to a frigid morning. Max was ready to get up but, I was not ready to come out of the downy goodness of my hammock. Needless to say, Max won out and we got up and started a fire and made coffee. We were in no hurry so we enjoyed the warmth of the fire, coffee and breakfast. With coffee and breakfast down it was time to start packing up. With the fire extinguished, water bottles filled and packs packed we headed back toward the trail head.
We hiked a bit before stopping to shed layers. Back at Forest Road 16 we made the turn toward the truck. The road was a fairly easy hike and allowed us to make a loop and ease the strain on my legs & feet! Max was very appreciative too!
Summary: Once back to the trail head we had logged about 9.5 miles total and Max was thankful to be back. We didn't make it far up Route 125 before Max was passed out.
It was an enjoyable trip. Shawnee is definitely a workout. I'm glad we called it to stop at camp 7; I was pretty worn out by the time we got back. Plus I got to meet some fellow backpackers close to home. Shawnee is a nice place and will for sure help get you in shape! I look forward to a return trip when I can spend a few nights.
Honorably Discharged: Nada
Dishonorably Discharged: Nope