Lake Hope State Park | Outdoorsy

Lake Hope State Park
Guide

Introduction

Lake Hope State Park is one of Ohio’s state parks that is well-renowned for its spectacular scenery, wonderful wildlife, and mostly, the lavish Hope Lake that sits at the park’s center. The entire park lies within Zaleski State Forest of Vinton County, surrounded by the valley of Big Sandy Run. Before becoming a state park in 1937, the same location held the mining village of Hope, devastated by a flood long ago. The remnants of the historically significant village are still visible inside the park and along its outskirts, and you can see it all when you bring your RV.

The scenery is composed of Zaleski’s rugged vast forests and deep, narrow gorges and ridges, making it a wonderful RV getaway. The park offers about 3,000 acres full of natural wonder, topped with opportunities for history lovers such as Hope Furnace, which was used to smelt iron ore in the bygone days. Other recreational options at the park include hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, fishing, and even exciting winter sports like sledding and skiing.

The park is open year-round, with the busiest season from Memorial Day to Labor Day. If you want to connect with nature on a whole new level, try RV camping in one of the park’s 43 electric or 141 non-electric sites and feel closest to the park’s surreal nature. There’s no better place to bring your RV than Lake Hope State Park in Vinton County.

RV Rentals in Lake Hope State Park

Transportation

Driving

Lake Hope State Park is located in Vinton County in Ohio tucked inside Zaleski State Forest. The village of Zaleski is the closest to the park. The simplest route to the park is from Zaleski by taking OH-278 for about 10 miles. The village of McArthur is another town close to the park located in the same county.

These 2,983 acres are tucked into Zaleski State Forest, so make sure to grab a map before you head out to explore the park, as there is a chance you might lose yourself in the wilderness. The 120-acre Hope Lake is centrally located in the park, and a launch ramp is also built on the lake. Boat rentals can be found near the dam.

A 600-foot swimming beach is also built close to the dam. There are numerous parking lots available inside the park including parking at the entrance, near the beach, campgrounds, and the lodge. Keep in mind that the sites are not suitable for big rigs or motorhomes. Maximum RV length is set at 50 feet. The good news is that there are no strict rules to follow while driving inside the park.

Parking

Public Transportation

Campgrounds and parking in Lake Hope State Park

Campsites in Lake Hope State Park

Reservations camping

Lake Ridge Group Campground

For large groups or big families, Lake Ridge Campground is located at the end of Lake Ridge Road just to the west of the main campground. These group sites are an ideal location for large groups of up to 18 people to enjoy the excitement and fun of camping all together. The site has pit toilets but if you want water, you will have to go to the family campground.

You can cook on the campfire ring or bring your own portable camp stove or small BBQ pit. There are also picnic tables for you all to enjoy. On the northeastern end of Lake Hope, you will be close to all types of water fun and within walking distance to the amenities at the family campground. There are also several trails nearby including the Hope Furnace Trail, which is about 3.2 miles of moderate hiking and biking. Pets are welcome and reservations can be made online or by phone.

Lake Hope State Park Campground

Lake Hope State Park offers 46 electric sites featuring both 30- and 50-amp electric sites and 141 non-electric sites. The campground provides many camping comforts like hot showers, modern restrooms, dump stations, and a laundry facility. The campgrounds are pet-friendly, so feel free to bring along your pets. Registered campers also enjoy complimentary picnic tables, barbecue grills, and fire rings at each site. The campsites are large enough for up to six people, and they can accommodate RVs up to 50 feet long.

All campsites are also finely paved, well-maintained, and there is a playground for the kids located nearby. Reservations can be made by going online or contacting the park, but any vacant sites are given away on a first-come, first-served basis.

Atkinson Hunter’s Group Campground

Atkinson Hunter’s Group Campground is located in the Zaleski State Forest along the Zaleski Forest Backpack Trail, which is 10 miles long. You can reach the campground parking lot on Atkinson Ridge Road by the fire tower at the southern end of the park. You will have to walk a bit to get to the campsite, which is primitive but has pit toilets nearby. You’ll also have a picnic table and a fire ring with a grill to cook on, so you will have some of the comforts of family camping. It is best to bring water and a first aid kit since you will be further from the park office.

This campground is located in an area where you can hunt different species from small game to large and fur-bearing to waterfowl. Check with the Ohio Division of Wildlife for rules, regulations, and hunting schedules as well as to get your license and any tags you will need. Since it is part of the Zaleski State Forest, you will also need to review and follow their hunting rules as well. Pets (including hunting dogs) are welcome but must be restrained at all times.

Cabins

For a nice treat or just a different experience, try reserving a cabin at Lake Hope State Park. This park is unique in that they have so many cabins in different varieties. The 25 Standard Cabins sleep five, 21 Iron Furnace Legacy Cabins sleep four and have wood-burning fireplaces and 20 Forest Legacy Cabins that can sleep from four to eight. All the cabins include air conditioning and heat, full kitchens with all appliances, a bathroom, and a living room with plenty of seating.

You will be able to cook indoors or out because they also provide a BBQ grill and picnic table outside of each cabin. Your furbaby can join you but you must mention them when reserving your spot because only specific cabins allow pets. All cabins are within walking distance to the lake, picnic areas, the swimming beach, and the dining lodge. You’ll also have access to the Sidewinder Bike Trail, Hope Furnace Trail, Greenbriar Trail, and the Peninsula Trail.

Laurel Lodge

If you have a large group but don’t want to camp outdoors, why not reserve Laurel Lodge? Located right next to Lake Hope Dining Lodge at the end of Park Road 1, the lodge is close to the lake as well as several trails. Laurel Lodge is a spacious two-level building that can sleep up to 24 people. Eight bedrooms are provided that have single and double beds as well as furnishings, bedding, and electricity in every room.

The huge living room has a big-screen television with cable, dining tables, and comfy sofas and chairs. The stone fireplace in the living room gives it an even cozier atmosphere. With five bathrooms, you will have no trouble taking showers and are supplied with the basics like towels, washcloths, and toilet paper. The kitchen has commercial-sized appliances and all utensils are supplied, but you can also cook outside on the charcoal grill. Pets are not allowed, and reservations can be made online or by phone.

First-come first-served

Equestrian Group Campground

If you are a horse lover, you are in the right place at Lake Hope State Park because they have a large equestrian group campground with 16 sites. The camp is built near the park’s bridle trail that goes all the way into the surrounding forested region. The parking lot is on Crow Road T-20. These are primitive, tent-only sites, so you will have to leave the rig in the parking lot. Drinking water and latrines can be found within walking distance of the campsites. Being so far from the park amenities and office, it is a good idea to bring extra water, energy bars, and a first aid kit.

This site is considered a group camp but has 16 sites with picnic tables, fire rings, and horse tie-ups at each one. In addition to the Lake Hope State Park’s bridle trail, you can also enjoy and explore the 31 miles of bridle trails in the Zaleski State Forest. Your dog can join you and the horses at the campground too. Since these are first-come, first-served sites, you will need to get there early to get a spot, especially on weekends.

Lake Hope State Park Campground

Any vacant sites are given away on a first-come, first-served basis at this campground. There are also a few non-reservable sites set aside for walk-in campers only. These include sites 1-11, 13, 15-17, 19-25, and 177-189.

Seasonal activities in Lake Hope State Park

Off-Season

Wildlife Viewing and Birding

Lake Hope State Park is a natural habitat for many species of wildlife including deer and wild turkeys. Beavers, reputed as nature’s dam builders, are the most commonly sighted animals at the park. They can easily be found near the shores of Hope Lake. Vinton County is also home to over 50 documented bird species, many of which also nestle in the park’s forests. In fact, the park also arranges a hummingbird feeding program annually for the bird lovers out there. There are so many wildlife opportunities available, no matter when you choose to bring your RV.

Hiking and Biking

Lake Hope State Park is abounding with many terrains and trails to go hiking, biking, backpacking, and horseback riding. There are seven hiking trails of moderate difficulty level and they are about 11 total miles in length. There are also special trails for mountain biking. There are not just one or two, but a total of eight biking trails, both moderate and difficult. Readers of Mountain Bike magazine rated Lake Hope’s biking trails as one of the best found in Ohio. These hiking and biking trails explore the park’s flora and fauna deeply from every corner passing through the heavily forested regions, somber lake, and sandy beach. A 21-mile backpacking trail and a 31-mile bridle trail are also available near the park in the state forest region.

Enjoying Winter Activities

When winter arrives, Lake Hope State Park brings in a whole new level of excitement and festivity with stellar winter recreation and activities. The park brings you the delights of sledding, cross-country skiing, and ice skating. You can rent or buy equipment in the park as well. There are also opportunities for ice fishing at Hope Lake during winters. Now, there is no need to miss out on outdoor fun while lazing around the winter. Head over to Lake Hope State Park in your RV to make your next winter unforgettable.

In-Season

Picnicking and Sightseeing

While at Lake Hope State Park, it’s impossible not to lose yourself in the park’s matchless beauty and calmness. The park brings you a few steps closer to nature with its rugged gorges, dense forests, unusual wildflowers, and uncommon wildlife when you bring your RV. Besides plenty of natural exhibits, the park also features a few pieces from a century-old past.

The Hope Furnace reminds visitors of a bygone era. A few remnants of the long-destroyed Hope Village are also found in the park’s surroundings like the nearby Moonville Rail Trail and a haunted school in the state forest. A few picnic tables are also scattered around the park alongside two picnic shelters. The shelters can also be reserved so you can guarantee your spot.

Attending Events and Festivals

Lake Hope State Park is well known for hosting many family-friendly events and festivals throughout the year, especially during the peak season. Visitors from near and far rush to the park to get a taste of these festivities. The Lake Hope Arts and Crafts Show is one fine example of these fun events. Arranged annually in May, this Arts and Crafts Show features over 100 regional artisans and their stunning craftsmanship. The park’s Nature Center also arranges an outdoor movie show every Saturday during the summer. More than watching a movie under the stars and experiencing local craftsmanship, the park offers adults and kids to take pleasure in Zaleski Candleworks, Quilt Barn Tour, Uncle Buck’s Riding Stable and Dance Barn, and much more.

Swimming, Fishing, and Boating

Lake Hope allows boating, canoeing, and kayaking in the waters. Only electric motors are allowed. Boats, canoes, and kayaks are also available for rent at the park. The lake also provides a launch ramp to launch your boats into the water. Besides boating, you can choose to do many other things at the lake like swimming, sunbathing, and fishing. There is a beach area built near the dam that provides a beach house with a sundeck, a few restrooms, and a concession building. You can splash in the water or just lay on the beach grounds to soak in the sun. When it comes to fishing, you can expect to find a wide variety of species in good supplies like bluegill, catfish, crappie, and largemouth bass. For some fun in the sun head your RV over to Lake Hope as soon as you get to the park!

Find the perfect campsite.