Not far for the Hocking Hills region, near the small village of Zaleski, Ohio, lies the Zaleski State Forest. This 27,000 acre forest holds roads that are obscure to many who are outside of the local population. Above all, the Zaleski forest roads are all one lane, maintained gravel roads that twist and turn through the heart of these Ohio woodlands. Consequently, tThe roads are an absolute blast to navigate. Drivers will have a thrill of adventure and seclusion, but without being too far from a main road. There will always be a state route to greet explorers at the other end and take them back to civilization.
Experience with a Friend
A friend and I went adventuring in the area not long ago. What a blast we had, navigating slopes and turns. Surveying harvested forests and coming across hunter camps made for exciting discoveries. Our HHTR Jeep Wrangler, Ruby, is amazing. The vehicle was cruising over the gravel with ease and straddling mud puddles effortlessly. (Read more articles featuring our beloved red Jeep in our last article, Big Pine Loop).
The Southern Ohio Forest Rally is held in Zaleski and the city McArthur, Ohio during the summer months. The rally cars will leave McArthur and drive with insane speed down the same Zaleski forest roads that not many people will go down at 35 miles an hour, much less 60 to 100mph. I strongly recommend not going fast down any of these roads because they are unpredictable at times.
Interests in the Region
Zaleski State Forest holds some interests that are worth a visit. Lake Hope State Park is a beautiful lake that offers a beach, paddling, cabin rentals, fishing, camping, hiking trails, and a beautiful lodge with some of the best food in the area. Another interest would be the Moonville Tunnel. Find the tunnel on the Moonville Rail Trail outside the ghost town of Moonville. This tunnel is claimed to be haunted by victims of the train that traveled the area back in the 1800s. Zaleski is also home to Waterloo Wildlife Area, which is used to research water habitat, endangered tree species like American Elm, along with other things. Turkey Ridge Wildlife Area is an area that is used to protect the wild turkey population.
An old iron furnace is at the head of the Zaleski backpacking trails. It speaks a story of the area’s past, and what it took to live here. Other backpack trailheads are scattered around the area and I recommend checking into these trails if backpacking interests you. Overall a day, or even a few hours in the region is well worth the time.