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Tar Hollow State Park - Seclusion & Family Fun

Story & Photos by Matt Bayman



LAURELVILLE – If you’re looking for a camping experience that offers both quiet seclusion and outdoor family fun, look no further than Tar Hollow State Park in Southern Ohio.

   Located within Tar Hollow State Forest between Chillicothe and Hocking Hills (about 2 hours from Miami County), Tar Hollow State Park has one of the best campgrounds in the state. Every campsite hugs the woods, has shade, and is spacious and a good distance from other campsites. There’s also a modern shower facility and camp store. Best of all, the park is many miles from any town, and, at night, there isn’t an unnatural sound to be heard.

   For family fun, within walking distance of the campground, guests can swim at the lake, play putt-putt golf, rent bikes, canoes and paddle boats, layout on the sand beach, watch an outdoor movie on the weekend, fish for bluegill, play in the game room, check out live animals in the nature center, or hike one of the many trails found in the area, among other activities.

   Tar Hollow State Park, and the state forest that surrounds it, is home to many popular hiking trails. On the shorter, family friendly end is the 2.5-mile loop Homestead Trail, and on the more moderate end, the 3.5-mile loop Ross Hollow Hiking Trail, both of which start at the campground and explore the rugged terrain of the region.

   For those feeling a little more adventurous, and with a few days to spare, try the Logan Backpack Trail – a 21-mile figure-eight path that explores the dense Tar Hollow State Forest. Because of its simple layout, this backcountry trail is great for beginner backpackers and families. And, it has its own designated campground with toilets and water. (Regular campers who would like to visit the backcountry campground can see it by driving to the old fire tower, which is a sight to see in itself). The Buckeye Trail also passes through Tar Hollow.

   If tent camping or backpacking isn’t your thing, the state park has two, 4-person cabins for rent. They have heat, A/C, refrigerator, microwave, fire pit, and other amenities.   

   Because of the park’s seclusion, those planning to camp for the weekend should bring everything they need to survive, especially groceries and ice. The campground has an excellent general store, with plenty of snacks and camping supplies, but is limited on its food. Bring cash, too. The Internet at the general store can be very slow.

   As camping and hiking season gets in full swing, there’s really no bad time to visit the Tar Hollow region. Fall is certainly stunning, but late spring and summer have plenty of perks too, especially with the lake and the wildflowers that populate the region.
There are also some other nearby attractions to see, including:
- Mound City Group National Monument in Chillicothe
- Tecumseh, the outdoor drama
- Great Seal State Park
- Hocking Hills
- Historic Laurelville
- Adena State Memorial
- Alternative Driving Route Home – Route 56 (Small Towns, Shops & More)
To plan a visit to Tar Hollow State Park, including making camping reservations, visit

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