Lake Hope (SE)
27331 State Route 278
McArthur, OH 45651
Reservations for Cottages, Camping, Getaway Rentals & Shelters
A natural paradise, 2,983-acre Lake Hope State Park lies entirely within the 26,824-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.
Remnants of abandoned mining and iron producing industries amid the beautiful scenery provide interest and pleasure for hikers, photographers, nature lovers and historians alike at one of Ohio’s most historic and scenic state parks.
Nature of the Area
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.
History of the Area
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 this 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.
- 46 electric sites
- 141 non-electric sites
- Heated showerhouses, pit latrines, waste disposal, laundry facilities, picnic tables and fire rings
- Pets are permitted
- Group camp is available for organized groups on a reservation basis
- Equestrian camp is available for bridle trail users in Zaleski State Forest
- Download the Campground map
- 3 Rent-A-Camp units, equipment provided includes: tent, dining fly, cooler, cook stove
- 2 Camper Cabins
- 25 Wildlife cottages
- 20 Iron Furnace cottages
- 21 Forest cottages
- All cottages have linens, towels and complete kitchens with microwave ovens, heat, air conditioning, and outdoor grills and fire rings
- Iron Furnace and Forest cottages are finished in native hardwood and have woodburning fireplaces
Pets are permitted in select cottages
- Groups may reserve Laurel Lodge, a rustic structure with a beautiful stone fireplace, which sleeps 22 persons, provides kitchen facilities and is open year round
- Hiking Trails
- Habron Hollow Trail • 1.5 Miles • Moderate/Difficult
- White Oak Trail • 1/4 Mile • Moderate
- Buzzard Cave Trail • 1/2 Mile • Moderate
- Greenbriar Trail • 1/2 Mile • Moderate
- Peninsula Trail • 3 Miles • Moderate
- Olds Hollow Trail • 1.5 Miles • Moderate
- Hope Furnace Trail • 3.2 Miles • Moderate
- Biking Trails
- Copperhead Trail • 7.2 Miles • Moderate
- Little Sandy Trail • 4.5 Miles • Moderate
- Wildcat Trail • 3.5 Miles • Moderate
- Sidewinder Trail • 2.5 Miles • Moderate/Difficult
- Yosemite Falls Trail • 3.5 Miles • Moderate
- Yosemite Trail • 1.5 Miles • Moderate/Difficult
- Bobcat Trail • 2 Miles • Moderate
- Red Oak Trail • 1/2 Mile • Moderate/Difficult
- 21-mile backpack trail with primitive campsites is available in the adjacent state forest, backpackers must register upon arrival
- 33 miles of bridle trail in the state forest are available for riders with their own mounts
- Lake Hope’s 23-mile singletrack bike trail was chosen as Ohio’s top mountain bike trail by readers of “Mountain Bike Magazine”
- The wooded singletrack, which is open to mountain bikes, offers plenty of bike riding options
- The Athens Bicycle Club offers a few ideas to get you started.
- 120-acre lake allows boats with electric motors only
- 1 launch ramp
- Canoes, kayaks, and rowboats are available for rent
- Check for water quality advisories
- Boating laws and information
- Anglers will find good catches of bluegill, catfish, crappie and largemouth bass at Lake Hope
- Valid Ohio fishing license is required
- 9 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
- 600 foot swimming beach is located near the dam
- Facilities include a beachhouse with sun deck, restrooms, and a concession building where food and beverages can be purchased
- Swim at your own risk & be sure to keep an eye on the kids
- Pets are NOT permitted on swimming beaches
- Check for water quality advisories
Winter Recreation (conditions permitting)
- Ice skating
- Cross country skiing
- Ice fishing
- 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
- For more information on area attractions, visit
- Vinton County Convention and Visitors Bureau website or call 800-596-4459
- Ohio Tourism Division website or call 800-BUCKEYE