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Zaleski Backpack Trail South Loop



10.3 mile 16.6 kilometer loop


Ascent: 955' 291 m
Descent: -956' -291 m
High: 1,014' 309 m
Low: 715' 218 m


Avg Grade: 3% (2°)
Max Grade: 14% (8°)


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Trail shared by Ryan P

Escape the Hocking Hills crowds and explore this rare gem in southern Ohio.

Ryan P

Features Commonly Backpacked · Fall Colors · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Family Friendly Can be an easy overnight trip for young backpackers!


The Zaleski Trail is a great hike or short overnight trip. You'll spend your time navigating the forests of southern Ohio. It can get humid in the summer and water can be found along the route - but pack accordingly! Traffic is low to medium, depending on the time of year.

Need to Know

Water is available at hydrants at the campsites. Most of the surface water is considered contaminated by old mine runoff.


The south loop of the Zaleski Backpacking trail is the shorter of the two loops. It can easily be knocked out in a day or extended to an overnight trip... especially great for families with young backpackers!

Parking for the South Loop of the Zaleski Trail is roughly 50 yards from the trailhead, across from Hope Furnace. If you're spending the night on the trail, parking is now at the Hope Schoolhouse on Wheelabout Road. This adds about one and half miles of out-and-back to the trail each way. Entering the trail, you'll turn left and head into the woods. The Zaleski trail winds through the forest and you'll be under the canopy for a majority of your trip. The trail itself is packed dirt and rock - generally very easy with little to no technical ability required. There are some steeper sections - but they're short and quickly level out. A number of historical markers or areas of geological interest can be found by using the accompanying Zaleski Backpacking Brochure.

Flora & Fauna

Be aware of poisonous snakes in the area.


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May 15, 2020
Brandon Mather
Mar 25, 2020
Austin Domer
Overnight trip with Dave, Zach and Sedona 10.3mi — 1h 00m
Mar 12, 2020
Carl Ragland
Great trail 11mi — 4h 55m
Sep 20, 2019
Tyler Dunham
best bachelor ever! 10.3mi — 12h 45m
Aug 23, 2019
Ryan Fralic
Aug 16, 2019
Steve Shrader
Jul 26, 2019
Darnell Lautt
12h 10m
Jul 13, 2019
Zach Trosch
Ground was mostly dry. Water source at campsite D worked well. Downed leaves and twigs were very dry, made a good fire. 4mi

Trail Ratings

  4.3 from 52 votes


  4.3 from 52 votes
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in Ohio


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11,543 Since May 20, 2015



South Loop scenery
Mar 31, 2020 near Athens, OH
A rock outcrop stands alongside the Zaleski Backpacking Trail.
Feb 2, 2017 near Athens, OH
Zaleski Backpacking Trail
May 20, 2015 near Athens, OH
Looking across the lake.
Aug 14, 2017 near Athens, OH
A nice overlook along the trail.
Aug 14, 2017 near Athens, OH