Great Seal (SE)
4908 Marietta Road
Chillicothe, OH 45601
Tar Hollow State Park
16396 Tar Hollow Road
Laurelville, OH 43135
Reservations for Camping and Shelters
Great Seal State Park is dedicated to the wilderness spirit of Ohio. The history of the Shawnee nation and Ohio’s early statehood is centered in these rugged hills. Challenging trails through the 1,862-acre park take visitors to scenic vistas of distant ridgetops and the Scioto Valley below. These very hills are depicted on the Great Seal of the State of Ohio, from which the park gets its name.
Nature of the Area
Ancient history is recorded in the sandstone hills that comprise 1,862-acre Great Seal State Park. It lies upon the Appalachian escarpment, a line of hills stretching across Ohio’s mid section which outline the edge of the Appalachian plateau in the state. North and west of the line are glaciated plains while south and east rugged hills extend to the foothills of the mountains. This definition is obvious from the trails in the park where one can see Columbus on a clear day to the north and unbroken forested ridges to the south.
These sharply etched ridges harbor a fine stand of hardwoods. Due to the underlying rock strata, one unexpectedly finds chestnut oaks on the slopes and sugar maples on the crests of the hills where the opposite are more common. Spring wildflowers are abundant in the moist coves, while papaws and persimmons entice wildlife in autumn.
History of the Area
Great Seal State Park is located just north of the town of Chillicothe where the history of Ohio and the culture of the Indian shroud the land. In the mid to late 1700s, the Scioto River Valley was the home of the Shawnee. Three Shawnee towns, all named Chillicothe, were located just below the hills that comprise Great Seal State Park. North of here was the intersection of five major Indian trails. The Scioto River was utilized by the Shawnee as their primary means of transportation from one village to another. The great Shawnee warrior Tecumseh was born north of here near what is now Circleville. Not far from the park is where Logan, chief of the Mingoes, gave his most eloquent speech ending his vengeance against the white settlers for murdering all his relatives.
The first settlers came to the area in the 1790s. In 1796, General Nathaniel Massie, a well-known surveyor and woodsman, organized the settlement of the Scioto Valley by laying out on his own land the beautiful town of Chillicothe. Chillicothe was the first capital of the new state of Ohio from 1803 to 1810. (The capital was moved to Zanesville from 1811 to 1812 and then back to Chillicothe until it was permanently moved to Columbus in 1816).
The park takes its name from the state emblem, “The Great Seal of the State of Ohio”. The famous seal depicts a sheaf of wheat representing Ohio’s agricultural strength and a bundle of seventeen arrows shows Ohio to be the 17th state to enter the Union. The mountains and rising sun signify that Ohio was one of the first states west of the Alleghenies. The Scioto River flows between Mount Logan and the cultivated fields in the foreground. The design is said to have been the cooperative inspiration of Thomas Worthington, “Father of Ohio Statehood;” Edward Tiffin, the first governor; and William Creighton, first secretary of state. After an all-night meeting at “Adena,” the magnificent estate of Worthington, they viewed the sun rising over Mt. Logan and the hills of what is now Great Seal State Park thus inspiring the scene of the Great Seal of the State of Ohio.
- 15 non-electric sites
- Camping is available to both horse and non-horse campers • Horse picket lines (tie lines) are located behind sites 1-10 • Sites 11 – 15 do not have the horse picket lines
- Drinking water, vault latrines, playground, and a shelter house
- Scenically located adjacent to Sugarloaf Mountain, offering a view of the Scioto Valley below
- Pets are permitted
- The campground is closed during the months of January and February
- Download the Campground map
- 23 total miles of trails are available to hikers, mountain bikers, and horsemen • The terrain varies from steep to gently rolling • It is advised that horses and hikers be well conditioned for these trails
- 9 Multi-use trails
- Sugarloaf Mountain Trail (yellow) • 2.1 miles • climbs through dense maple-dominated forests to the crest of Sugarloaf • Rises almost 500 feet in less than a quarter mile
- Bald Hill (black) • 1 mile
- Sand Hill (pink) • 1 mile
- Grouse Rock (red) • 0.6 miles
- Rocky Knob (green) • 1.5 miles
- Mt. Ives Trail (orange) • 6.4 miles • This strenuous trail winds along Mt. Ives and provides several scenic vistas
- Rock Garden (green) • 1/2 mile
- Lick Run (purple) • 2 miles
- Bunker Hill (green) • 1.6 miles
- 2 hiking trails
- Disc Golf (white) • 1.1 miles
- Spring Run (white) • 3.4 miles
- Shawnee Ridge Trail (blue) • 5 miles • Comprises Bald Hill, Sand Hill and parts of Rocky Knob • Several steep sections are part of this forested trail
- 4 scenic picnic areas are located in separate areas on the park
- 2 shelterhouses may be reserved online or by calling 866-644-6727
- Ireland Shelter — Open shelter 28′ x 50′ with paved surface • Electric is NOT available • Amenities include fireplace, small grill, 10 picnic tables, parking for up to 26 vehicles • Close to restrooms, playground, and disc golf course
- Vista Shelter — Open shelter 30′ x 45′ with paved surface • Electric is NOT available • Amenities include small grill, 12 picnic tables, and parking for up to 15 vehicles • Close to restrooms and playground
- 18 holes
- Located in the Ireland picnic area
- Bring your own equipment, rental equipment is not available
- No fee is charged to play
- See what other parks have disc golf courses
- Hunting is permitted in designated areas
- Valid Ohio hunting license is required
Winter Recreation (conditions permitting)
- Spring Run Trail may be used for cross-country skiing
- Nearby are Scioto Trail State Park which is located south of Chillicothe off State Route 23, Lake White State Park which is located near Waverly on State Route 220, and Tar Hollow State Park and State Forest which are located off State Route 327 near the Ross-Hocking-Vinton county lines
- ODNR Division of Wildlife manages the 900-acre Ross Lake Wildlife Area off Lick Run Road • The area provides many recreational opportunities including hunting, fishing, boating, hiking, disc golf, nature study and bird watching
- The famous outdoor historical drama, Tecumseh!, is presented late June through early September at Sugarloaf Mountain Amphitheater.
- Adena State Memorial, the restored home of Thomas Worthington is one of The Ohio Historical Society’s premier sites. It includes Worthington’s newly-restored 1807 mansion and a 13,000 square foot Museum/Visitor Center.
- The Ross County Historical Society at 45 W. Fifth Street in Chillicothe features exhibits of pioneer crafts, firearms, furniture, toys and clothing. The museum is open March through November.
- One mile north of Chillicothe on State Route 104 is the Mound City/Hopewell Culture Group National Historical Park. The area is a prehistoric Indian complex of 23 burial mounds. A museum and visitor’s center are open daily.
- For more information on area attractions, visit
- Ross-Chillicothe Convention and Visitors Bureau website or call 800-413-4118
- Ohio Tourism Division website or call 800-BUCKEYE