GALLIA COUNTY — Wayne National Forest spreads across Southern Ohio in multiple counties, with portions in Monroe , Athens, Hocking, Lawrence, and Gallia counties. The southern portion of Gallia County is predominantly National Forest, covering Greenfield Township to Crown City and as far east at Eureka near, totalling 18,450 acres in Gallia.
As the forest is public land, it is available for several recreational activities.
“In Gallia County in Wayne National Forest there is a lot of outdoor recreational opportunities. Everything from hunting, fishing, wildlife viewing, and hiking, those are the big ones,” said Time Slone, District Ranger for the Ironton District.
Hunting is legal in National Forest land for the public. According to Slone, anyone can hunt in Wayne so long as they follow the existing rules and regulations set forth by the State of Ohio and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
“The primary thing is that they would be familiar enough with the area to know when they are on forest property,” said Slone.
While the public is allowed to hunt and be on Wayne property, some private property is intermixed and property lines are not always clearly marked. While in Wayne, there are public roads that driving is allowed on. Throughout Wayne some roads are off limits to the public.
“If it’s closed to the public we generally have a gate or a dirt berm across the road, so it’s usually pretty obvious,” said Slone.
Aside from hunting the hills and forests in Wayne, fishing is also largely popular activity. Symmes Creek, which runs south from Jackson County through Greenfield Township and downtown Waterloo, is an excellent location for small mouth bass and other small species. The National Forest service also manages Kenton Lake off of Ohio 233 at Pumpkintown Road, a popular spot for Largemouth Bass, Bluegill, and other sunfish.
While hunting and fishing are popular in Wayne National Forest, the two hiking trails are not nearly as utilized, according to Slone. There are two trails totaling about 15 miles and are open year round, day and night.
“They’re not used a lot, or haven’t been in the last several years, but they are some nice hiking trails,” said Slone. “As far as the hunting, fishing, wildlife viewing, just getting out and enjoying nature, I think the public takes advantage of that. I know the trail system is not as popular for whatever reason.”
The Symmes Creek Trailhead can be accessed from Symmes Creek road, and Morgan Sisters Trailhead can be accessed from Pumpkintown Road. The trails do join and can be accessed from either trailhead. The trails range in elevation from a low of 650 feet above sea level to a high of 934 on the Schoolhouse Loop.
While enjoying any activity in Wayne National Forest, it is important to practice the Leave No Trace method to help preserve nature for future guests of the forest.
To learn more about Wayne National Forest, what it offers the public in other counties in Ohio, and where to find more opportunities to experience the outdoors visit www.fs.usda.gove/wayne for more.
Reach Morgan McKinniss at 740-446-2342 ext 2108.