If you’re searching for a retreat away from the big city to reconnect with nature, then look no further. Wayne National Forest has activities for the whole family, so get your campervan packed and get on the road! Located in southeastern Ohio in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, the forest covers just over a quarter of a million acres. Carpets of wildflowers in the spring, the serene calm of rivers and lakes, and the changing of the leaves in the fall all bring people from near and far to visit the forest.
Wherever you wander, you will find ample ways to discover the forest. Whether it be on horseback, mountain bike, OHV, or on your own two feet, there are hundreds of miles of trails to explore. Other activities include RV camping, fishing, hunting, boating, and scenic driving. There’s something here for everyone, whether you’re sleeping under the stars or parking the campervan. In fact, there are four RV-friendly campgrounds within the forest. We’ve gone ahead and researched the specifics of each and have highlighted them below to help you decide which one is the best for you.
Wayne National Forest is located in southeastern Ohio, just an hour away from Columbus. Many paved roads lead to the forest, including Highways 50, 52, and 33. Interstates 77, 64, and 70 run parallel to the forest, making it extremely accessible even for larger vehicles. Some smaller roads within the forest are gravel and may cause issues like wash boarding or flooding during the rainy seasons. Two scenic byways stretch through Wayne National Forest, the Covered Bridge Scenic Byway, and the Ohio River Scenic Byway. If you are hauling or driving a large vehicle, you may want to proceed with caution on the Covered Bridge Scenic Byway. As the name suggests, the route passes through some covered bridges that may not accommodate extra-wide RVs or trailers. The Ohio River Scenic Byway is an easy drive no matter what mode of transport you take. It offers scenic views of the river, and Wayne National Forest provides a beautiful backdrop. Both byways are open all year round with only moderate traffic even during peak season.
Located on the ridge of Lake Vesuvius you will find the Iron Ridge Campground. This newly renovated campground offers 20 RV-friendly sites, some with electric hookups. Each site is equipped with a campfire ring, and picnic table. A dump station, drinking water, flush toilets, and showers are also available on site. The campground is open from early April through late October and reservations can be made in advance. A few sites are offered on a first-come-first-served basis. Maximum lengths for vehicles vary by site and range from 20 to 45 feet.
The proximity to Lake Vesuvius and the recreation area provides plenty of opportunities for some fun in the sun. Hiking, swimming, boating, hunting, and fishing are all well-liked activities in the area. For an interesting hike, check out Whiskey Run Trail. This short trek will bring you past old whiskey barrels, stills, and abandoned charcoal pits. Anglers can try their luck for bass, crappie, catfish, and bluegill. You can let your furry friends ride along in the RV as this is a pet-friendly campground.
One of the newest campgrounds in the forest is the Oak Hill Campground. 27 RV friendly campsites are available from April through October, and most sites can be reserved. All sites offer electric hookups, along with picnic tables, fire rings, and lantern posts. Within the campground are flush toilets, showers, drinking water, and a dump station available for use. Parking spurs are paved and vary in length between 30 and 45 feet. Mature oak trees and hardwood pine offer shade to most campsites.
Located on the west side of Lake Vesuvius, there are ample opportunities for enjoyment and relaxation. Pets can join in on the fun because this is a pet-friendly campground. Anglers can fish for bass, catfish, crappie, and bluegill in the nearby lake, and hikers have access to more than 40 trails in the area, some starting right at the campground. Other popular activities in the area include boating, swimming, and wildlife viewing. If you don’t feel like hauling your own boat behind the rig, there are boat rentals available nearby.
Situated along the Ohio River just off of the Covered Bridge Scenic Byway are the Leith Run Recreation Area and campground. This cozy campground features 21 RV and trailer friendly sites, each with electric hookups, picnic tables, and campfire rings. The campground also provides flush toilets, showers, water hookups, and volleyball courts. The campground is open almost all year round and takes reservations from April to October.
The sites become first come first served from mid-October to mid-December. All parking spurs are paved but vary in size restrictions from 30 feet up to 90 feet. This pet-friendly campground is perfect for families due to the scenic area in which it is located. There are ample outdoor activities including boating, nature viewing, hiking, and fishing. A boardwalk with a gazebo offers access to estuary fishing, and a pier is situated on the river for shoreline fishing. The recreation area intersects with the Scenic River Trail, leading to a lookout atop the bluffs.
For a more primitive camping experience, park the camper at the Burr Oak Cove Campground. The 19 campgrounds can accommodate RVs and trailers with a maximum length of 25 feet and are available on a first-come, first-served basis. The facilities are open from mid-April to mid-December. The campground features drinking water, vault toilets, and picnic tables.
Although there are no hookups of any kind, this campground is rarely crowded, making it the perfect place if you’re looking for solitude and privacy. This quaint campground is located a half-mile east of Highway 13 near the Burr Oak Reservoir and is accessible by a short, easy-going hike. Fishing is another popular activity with Burr Oak Lake nearby. Boats are allowed on the lake, so feel free to haul your own behind the rig.
Wayne National Forest has dozens of trails open for horse riding, so don’t hesitate to attach the trailer to the rig and bring the horses along for some fun. The trail system features almost 80 miles of terrain to ride, and numerous equestrian campgrounds are located nearby. You’ll see rocky cliffs, thick forests, waterfalls, and possibly even wildlife. The Lake Vesuvius trail system is one of the most popular routes and offers 46 miles of paths. Trails are open from mid-April to mid-December each year.
For those looking for a relaxing way to reconnect with the great outdoors, Wayne National Forest has numerous opportunities for nature viewing and learning. Whether you’re interested in seeing the flora and fauna or finding a scenic viewpoint, you will not be disappointed. Interpretive trails make it easy to learn about native plants and wildflowers, and if you are quiet enough you may spot some wildlife. Heron, osprey, beaver, and otter all call the forest home and oftentimes make themselves observable to visitors. The Lake Vesuvius Recreation Area features beautiful nature scenery, so don’t forget to pack your binoculars and camera in the camper.
Mountain bikers flock to Wayne National Forest from April through December to hit the trails. Whether you’re a novice bike rider or a seasoned pro, there are over 200 miles of trails with varying difficulty, so feel free to hook up the bike rack to the back of the RV. Check out the Scenic River Trailhead and the Ohio View trailhead as they are two of the best mountain biking trails according to River Valley Mountain Biking Association. Keep in mind that you may be sharing the trail with hikers, OHV riders, or horse riders.
Anglers will love Wayne National Forest thanks to its vast options for fishing. Over 500 acres of ponds and lakes are open to the public for fishing, along with streams, rivers, and estuaries. Bass, crappie, bluegill, walleye, and catfish are just a few of the fish that swim in the forest. Various boat ramps are available for use throughout the forest, presenting the opportunity to bring your own boat along behind the RV. Be sure to plan ahead and make sure your Ohio fishing license is up to date.
Remember to pack your hiking boots in the camper, because Wayne National Forest has over 300 miles of trails to be discovered. Each route varies in difficulty and length, presenting options for novice hikers as well as those more experienced. Wildcat Hollow offers an intermediate hike leading through tall pine forests, open meadows of wildflowers, and serene streams. If you tread lightly, you may even spot some wildlife. Keep in mind you may be sharing the trail with OHV riders, mountain bikers, and horse riders.
Wildlife abounds in Wayne National Forest, making it the perfect place for hunting. Whether you’re looking for big game or small, there are numerous opportunities for each. White-tailed deer, wild turkey, squirrels, and waterfowl are a few species that call the forest home. Timber Ridge Lake area is known for its large population of wildlife and is one of the most popular hunting areas in the forest. Plan ahead and check out the current Ohio hunting regulations.