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Wayne National Forest Camping Guide

Wayne National Forest, also known as “The Wayne”, is a forest that spans more than 240,000 acres in southeastern Ohio. As the state’s only National Forest, it’s a great destination for Ohioans and visitors who want to spend time in the great outdoors.

If you’re planning a Wayne National Forest camping trip or visit, you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading for the complete guide!

wayne national forest camping

What to Expect at Wayne National Forest

Located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, Wayne National Forest features rolling hills, lakes, streams, and, of course, forests. This landscape means that the Wayne offers an abundance of things to see and do, including hiking, biking, horseback riding, hunting, historic sites, boating, fishing, and so much more.

Wayne National Forest is home to wildlife including beavers, otters, wild turkeys, deer, foxes, and more. If you’re lucky, you may be able to spot some of these animals during your trip!

If you visit the forest, you’ll probably notice that the vast area is fragmented with three separate units across towns and counties. Roads pass through the area, too, making much of it easily accessible.

Wayne National Forest Camping

Camping is a great way to immerse yourself in the national forest, giving yourself plenty of time to explore the area and enjoy the natural landscape.

If you’re planning a Wayne National Forest Camping Trip, here’s everything you need to know.

Types of Camping

Wayne National Forest offers various camping options, so there’s something for almost everyone! Whether you prefer backpacking, camping in an RV, or need to accommodate a large group, The Wayne has you covered.

Read on to learn more about the different Wayne National Forest camping options.

  • Campground camping – Wayne National Forest offers classic campground camping, with a variety of campgrounds to choose from. Options range from primitive campgrounds to developed ones that offer toilets, electricity, drinking water, and more.
  • Dispersed camping – For those who would prefer backpacking in Wayne National Forest, dispersed campgrounds are available. Visitors can hike to their campgrounds or camp along trailheads while on the move. Just don’t expect many amenities at your campsite.
  • Group camping – For larger groups, Wayne National Forest offers several group campgrounds. Some, like Oak Hill and Two Point, can fit up to 50 people, while others, like Lake Vesuvius, can accommodate up to 100 people.
  • RV camping – If you prefer to camp in an RV, Wayne National Forest has you covered, too. Depending on the campground you choose, many have space for RVs, plus features like water and electric hookups.
  • Off-highway vehicle (OHV) camping – Wayne National Forest boasts top OHV trails and plenty of campgrounds for OHV riders. Riders can camp at OHV trailheads and designated areas, where everything is easily accessible
  • Equestrian camping – The Wayne also offers equestrian camping on many of its horse trails and designated horse campgrounds. Just keep in mind that there are no stables, and you have to bring your own horse.
wayne national forest camping


Given the size of the national forest and the variety of camping options available, Wayne National Forest has tons of campgrounds to choose from. Below are a few popular options with different features and amenities.

  • Iron Ridge Campground – Located on the east side of Lake Vesuvius, Iron Ridge Campground offers easy access to the lake and nearby hiking trails. It’s one of the national forest’s most developed campsites, with water, electricity, and flush toilets. It has 21 RV campsites and 11 tent sites.
  • Oak Hill Campground – Oak Hill is one of Wayne National Forest’s newest campgrounds, located on the western side of Lake Vesuvius. Each of its 27 campsites has water and electric hookups, plus access to restrooms with flush toilets and showers. The campground also has a boat dock, and it’s near several hiking trails.
  • Stone Church Horse Camp – If horseback riding is your thing, Stone Church Horse Camp is for you. From April 15 to December 15, this campground is open and offers access to over 20 miles of scenic equestrian trails. This campground is located outside of Shawnee, Ohio.
  • Leith Run Recreation Area – The Leith Run Campground is located on the Ohio River. It features 21 grassy campsites for tent camping and 18 for RV camping, and it has modern amenities such as picnic areas, drinking water, flush toilets, and electricity.
  • Burr Oak Cove Campground – Burr Oak Cove Campground is a quieter campground in Wayne National Forest that’s located near the towns of Gloucester and Corning. It offers 19 sites for both tent and RV camping, as well as amenities like drinking water, toilets, and picnic tables.

Things to do at Wayne National Forest


Wayne National Forest offers over 300 miles of hiking trails. These trails range from short day hikes to long backpacking trails that stretch over 15 miles. They also vary in level of difficulty, so there are hiking trails suitable for many different needs.

A few popular trails include Archers Fork Trail, the Wayne National Forest Scenic River Loop, the Covered Bridge Trail, and Paddle Creek Loop.

Off-Highway Vehicle Riding

The Wayne National Forest is well-known for its off-highway vehicle (OHV) trail system, which happens to be the largest OHV trail system in the state. With trails ranging from beginner-friendly to those more suitable for experienced riders, it offers plenty of options for everyone.

OHV trails are closed in the winter but open the rest of the year, as are most of the national forest’s campgrounds. So if you enjoy riding off-highway vehicles like ATVs (or want to try it out), don’t miss the opportunity while camping at Wayne National Forest.

Horseback Riding

In addition to trails for hiking and OHVs, Wayne National Forest has 79 miles of horse trails. These trails span all different areas of the forest, including Lake Vesuvius, the Old Stone Church area, and more.

Unfortunately, the park doesn’t offer horses for rent, so you’ll need to bring your own horse if you want to enjoy this part of the forest (though horse trails are open for hikers, too).

Water Recreation

The lakes, rivers, and streams throughout Wayne National Forest offer an abundance of opportunities for water activities like boating and fishing.

Motorized boating is allowed in a few areas, with boat ramps available at Timber Ridge Lake, Leith Run Recreation Area, and the Frontier Boat Launch on the Ohio River. Alternatively, if you prefer canoeing or kayaking, there are additional places where non-motorized boating is allowed.

And if you’re interested in fishing, there are more than 130 fishable lakes and ponds in the forest. A few types of fish you may encounter are bass, bluegill, and catfish.

wayne national forest camping

What to Pack

Your packing list will largely depend on when you visit Wayne National Forest, the weather, and what you choose to do.

For example, visiting in early spring or late fall will likely be colder than the summertime, so you’ll need to plan accordingly. Additionally, if you want to enjoy the water, you may choose to bring things like fishing gear and kayaks, or if you prefer hiking, then you’ll need some hiking boots.

For more guidance on what to pack (and what not to pack), visit our guide on What to Bring Camping and make sure you don’t forget any essentials.

Wrapping Up Wayne National Forest Camping

As you can see, a Wayne National Forest camping trip offers so much to see and do! From relaxing on the water to thrilling OHV rides, there’s something for everyone.

If you’re looking to go camping in Ohio, this destination should be on your list.

Want to explore more national parks and forests? Check out our national park camping page for more camping guides and tips!

wayne national forest camping