The 9,400 acre Scioto Trail State Forest is another of the state's beautiful preserves with rolling hills and rough terrain. Named after the adjacent Scioto Trail along the Scioto River, the forest contains 26 miles of bridal trails and 18 miles of forest service road providing access to winding ridge lines and scenic valleys. The Scioto Trail was an old Indian route along the river used to access the Kentucky hunting grounds from northern Ohio. The horseback trail was also used by early settlers journeying from the state’s first capital, Chillicothe, down to Portsmouth.
From the lookout tower parking area, head north on FS 2 (North Ridge Road). This is a narrow, one-way, single lane light gravel road. Shortly past the turnoff for FS 3 (Lake Road), the road bobs and weaves along the ridge lines yielding numerous breath-taking vistas over the Scioto River valley. About 1.5 miles past FS 2, look for a bridle trail cutting out to the left. Head north on this trail as it winds down into the valley for several miles and eventually crosses SR 372 (Stoney Creek Road).
Climb on the track to FS 5 (Hatfield Road) and hang a right to proceed west up the road. Just before the junction with FS 7, a bridal trail exits south -- while this leads to a nice southern loop, it adds considerable to the trip length.
While bearing to the left, at the intersection with FS 4 (Martin Road) head northwest. This road ends back at the lookout tower. The beauty of this route was that it completely circumvented the busy central core of the forest (i.e. Scioto State Park). Overall, the forest was quite dry by early autumn. I’ve been told that it is quite lush in spring when the trails are lined with flowering dogwood and redbud trees.
From Chillicothe, proceed south on US 23 for nine miles to SR 372. Head east on SR 372 for half a mile and park near fire tower on left.
Overall, Scioto Trail State Forest is the 16th most popular horse trail of all 32 horseback rides in Ohio.