Zaleski State Forest covers 28,000 acres and is Ohio’s second largest forest. The forest encompasses Lake Hope State park. There are backpack trails, the longest of which is 23.5 miles, 50 miles of bridle trails, a horse camp, a shooting range, the Atkinson Ridge Hunters camp, as well as turkey and grouse management areas that are open for hunting season. The forest operates the only state owned sawmill in Ohio. Historic Moonville Tunnel is located within the forest on an abandoned B&O railroad right-of-way. Hope School House is a renovated one-room school house and acts as an interpretive center to teach local history.
Zaleski State Forest has a wealth of natural resources. Coal, iron ore, clay, and building stone can all be found throughout the area. The area was first settled as a coal mining town and one of the iron furnaces of Ohio still stands within the Lake Hope State Park. Rock layers of shale, sandstone, and even limestone are present. The forest is a second growth forest as much of the timber was logged when the area was settled and the iron furnace was active. Wildflowers and trees like oak and hickory abound while the grouse and wild turkey management areas fill the forest with life. Deer and beaver are frequently spotted and even the occasional black bear has been seen.
Zaleski State Forest has much to keep the active person busy. Two backpack trails traverse the area, one being a lengthy 23.5 miles while the other is a 10-mile day loop. 50 miles of bridle trails as well as a horse camp with 16 sites makes the forest a great place for any horseman to visit. The shooting range is located on State Route 278, just north of the forest headquarters. The range has nine 25-yard shooting lanes benches. Rules for the range and hours of operation can be found on the ODNR Division of Forestry website.
The forest contains an 1,100-acre Grouse Management Area as well as a 4,000-acre Turkey Management Area that are aimed at creating favorable conditions for the reproduction of these birds. The areas are open to hunting during the seasons. The Atkinson Ridge Hunters camp is located on the north end of the Grouse Management Area at the fire tower on Township Road 5. Picnic tables, fire rings, and latrines are all available at the campground. Information about reserving sites and hours of operation are available on the ODNR Division of Forestry website.
Lake Hope State Park is located within the Zaleski State forest and offers the opportunity to boat, fish, and swim. Bluegill, largemouth bass, crappie, and catfish can be caught in the 120-acre lake. Moonville Tunnel and Hope School House are located nearby. Hope School House contain exhibits and teaches about the local history. Moonville Tunnel is on an abandoned B&O railroad right-of-way within the forest and is purportedly haunted by the spirit of a careless conductor. The tunnel can be reached on foot or by horseback. The only state owned sawmill in Ohio is located within the forest. Rough sawn lumber is produced at the mill and is used by Ohio’s state forests and parks, as well as by other government agencies.