27331 State Route 278, McArthur, Ohio 45651
Park Office Phone: (740) 596-4938
Dining Lodge Phone: (740) 596-0601
Reservations: (866) 644-6727
Located in southeastern Ohio, the 2,983-acre Lake Hope State Park is a natural paradise. The entire park lies with the 28,614-acre Zaleski State Forest in the valley of Big Sandy Run. It is a rugged, heavily forested region traversed by steep gorges and narrow ridges with remnants of abandoned mining and iron producing industries. This eye-catching scenery offers many opportunities for photographers, hikers and historians to enjoy. in the valley of Big Sandy Run. It is a rugged, heavily forested region traversed by steep gorges and narrow ridges.
You can find more information about each of the following activities below.
Lake Hope State Park is truly a nature lover's dream. In the forest-draped hills, the observant visitor can discover the abundant natural resources of this wild and scenic park. Although most of the forest was cut to fuel the iron smelting industry that once flourished here, the land has recovered and supports a magnificent, second-growth forest. Oak and hickory are the dominant trees while the woodland floor harbors a fascinating assemblage of shrubs and wildflowers. The yellow lady's slipper, one of the rarest and most showy orchids, blooms in secluded hollows. Other spring wildflowers such as blue-eyed mary, bloodroot and wild geranium can be found in abundance. Deer and wild turkeys are often seen in a number of park locations. Of the many animals inhabiting the park, none is as popular as the beaver. As nature's dam builders, the beavers are found in numbers and can be observed near the quiet inlets of the lake. The hills of Lake Hope State Park contain coal, iron ore, clay, and building stone. During the Pennsylvanian Period, about 300 million years ago, Ohio was a lowland plain where rivers meandered through vast swamp forests and sea waters periodically flooded the land as elevations changed. The rocks deposited during this time are shales and sandstones with coals, clays, and limestones in thin layers that reflect the unstable conditions under which they were laid down. The clays formed from the old, leached soils on which the forests grew. The coals are the remains of trees and plants preserved in the waters of the swamps. As sea levels rose, brackish water killed the trees, and the muckbeds — buried under mud and sand along the shore — were changed by time and pressure to form coal. Sea animals migrated into deeper, more favorable areas. Their shells, mixed with limy mud, make up the thin limestone and flint layers found in the area today. Rivers carried mud and sand from their headwaters in mountains to the east, building deltas and flood plains, which today are the shales and sandstones in the area. This sequence of events was repeated over and over, giving rise to successive coal beds and marine sediments. At last, great movements of Earth's crust raised the Appalachian Mountains higher, and the sea was drained from Ohio. The rock layers were tilted gently eastward, and a new generation of rivers began to carve valleys and expose the rocks.
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Lake Hope offers the following amenities for camping:
- 46 electric sites
- 141 non-electric sites
- 3 small group sites accommodate 18 people
- Heated showerhouses, flush toilets, waste disposal, laundry facilities, picnic tables and fire rings
- Pets are permitted
- Lake Ridge organized group camp is reservable by calling the park office
- Equestrian camp is available for bridle trail users
Swimming: A 600-foot swimming beach is located near the dam. Swimming is permitted in designated areas. Please exercise caution while swimming at the beach. Facilities include a shelter with a large sun deck and patios overlooking the lake, restrooms, and concessions.
Fishing: Anglers will find good catches of bluegill, catfish, crappie and largemouth bass at Lake Hope. A valid Ohio fishing license is required.
Boating: The 120-acre lake allows boats with electric motors only and can be accessed by one launch ramp. Canoes, kayaks, paddleboards, paddle boats, pontoons, and Hydro-bikes are available to rent.
Dining: The Lake Hope Lodge offers made from scratch food using Ohio products with a strong emphasis on real pit barbeque, which is smoked in their all wood fire traditional pit using pure hickory. The lodge is settled atop a hill looking down upon Lake Hope providing tremendous views of the lake, surrounding woods, and emaculate sunsets. Lake Hope Lodge is open to the public year-round and is available for holidays and special events. For more information, call the lodge at (740) 596-0601.
Hunting is permitted in the adjacent Zaleski State Forest. A valid Ohio hunting license is required. You can find out more information about getting a valid Ohio hunting and trapping license on Ohio's division of wildlife website: http://wildlife.ohiodnr.gov/hunting-trapping-and-shooting-sports/hunting-trapping-regulations/licenses-and-permits. Pursuant to Ohio Administrative Code, no person shall at any time hunt, trap, kill, pursue, or shoot at any wildlife and/or wild animals by any means within 400 feet of any nature trail, picnic area, service area, residence, barn, parking lot, cabin, or other structure.
Seven hiking trails traverse the park. A 29-mile backpack trail with primitive campsites is available in the adjacent state forest; backpackers must register upon arrival.
- Buzzard Cave Trail - 1/2 Mile - Moderate
- Greenbriar Trail - 1/2 Mile - Moderate
- Peninsula Trail - 3 Miles - Moderate
- Hope Furnace Trail - 3.2 Miles - Moderate
- White Oak Trail - 1/4 Mile - Moderate/Difficulte
- Habron Hollow Trail - 1.5 Miles - Moderate/Difficult
- Olds Hollow Trail - 1.5 Miles - Moderate/Difficult
Eight mountain biking trails traverse the park totaling over 25 miles of trails of steep hills and ravings that offer challenges suited to intermediate and advanced cyclists. Lake Hope’s wooded mountain biking trails were chosen by readers of
“Mountain Bike Magazine” as “Ohio’s top single-track mountain biking trails.”
- Bobcat Trail - 2 Miles - Moderate
- Wildcat Trail - 3.5 Miles - Moderate
- Little Sandy Trail - 4.5 Miles - Moderate
- Copperhead Trail - 7.2 Miles - Moderate
- Red Oak Trail - 1/2 Mile - Moderate/Difficult
- Yosemite Trail - 1.5 Miles - Moderate/Difficult
- Sidewinder Trail - 2.5 Miles - Moderate/Difficult
- Yosemite Falls Trail - 3.5 Miles - Moderate/Difficult
Forty-five miles of bridle trails in Zaleski State Forest. are available for riders with their own mounts.
Nine picnic areas with tables and grills are located at many secluded and scenic areas around the park. A shelterhouse is available for reservation online or by calling (866) 644-6727.
Though the roar of the iron furnaces no longer echoes through the hills of Vinton County, there are many reminders of days gone by at Lake Hope State Park. Situated at the heart of Ohio's Hanging Rock iron region, Lake Hope State Park reflects the rich history of much of southeastern Ohio. The Hope Furnace was built here over 100 years ago to process the iron ore extracted from the region's sandstone bedrock. The iron resulting from the ore smelting process was used to produce many different items, including ammunition and cannon for the Union Army during the Civil War. Hundreds of men labored cutting timber, working the furnace and driving teams of oxen hauling iron ore to the furnace. Charcoal fires were tended 24 hours a day; so much wood was required for this process that the surrounding hillsides were almost completely stripped of their timber. At the height of the Hope Furnace's production, Ohio was one of the nation's leading producers of iron. As time passed, iron ore was discovered farther west and Ohio's reputation as a major iron producer waned. By 1900, nearly all of the major furnaces in southern Ohio were shut down. Today, the Hope Furnace chimney and some of the foundation are all that remain of the structure. In the vicinity of the chimney, one may find pieces of slag, the cast-off residue from the smelting process. These pock-marked, glass-like pieces have now become a part of the forest floor. The forest we now see is one that has grown back where hundreds of years ago a primeval forest once stood. For a time, coal was an important Vinton County export. A number of mines tunneled into the hills and large quantities of coal were transported out in ox-drawn coal cars. Most of the mines were abandoned early in the 20th century. Lake Hope Forest Park was created in 1937 by the Division of Forestry. The Division of Parks and Recreation and Lake Hope State Park came into existence in 1949.
Hocking Hills State Park, just twenty miles northwest of Lake Hope, boasts some of the most spectacular geological formations in the state. The Blackhand Sandstone has been carved into deep gorges, large recess caves and imposing cliff faces. Zaleski State Forest surrounds Lake Hope State Park and includes miles of hiking and bridle trails and backpacking routes. Information on backpacking is available from the Division of Forestry at (614) 265-6694. The Waterloo Wildlife Area where forest game are managed is within minutes of the park. Lake Alma State Park, 15 miles southeast of Lake Hope, offers opportunities for fishing, camping, swimming and picnicking.