Friday, September 28, 2012

Scioto County's Shawnee State Park

Photos by OHventures

4404 State Route 125
Portsmouth, OH 45663

If you're traveling in Southern Scioto County Ohio, there is no avoiding Shawnee State Park! I recently paid a visit to this portion of the state for the very first time in my life. It was a crisp autumn day in late September, when the leaves were just starting to turn from green into hues of light yellow and orange. Driving through the small Village of Otway, I happened upon some surprising landmarks that captured the charm of the southernmost part of the Buckeye State.

One of these landmarks was an old timber covered bridge (pictured above) that was closed off to traffic, but remained in tact as an official Ohio Historical Marker. These covered bridges were vital links in the early road, railroad and canal systems of Ohio and contributed greatly to the growth and development of the state. The were covered with roof and siding to protect the timber trusses from the weather. Many of these covered bridges, like the one above, served the area for over a century. 

You can find this particular covered bridge spanning Scioto Brush Creek on State Route 348 0.2 miles from the center of the Village of Otway. What makes this bridge unique is that out of a total of 80 covered bridges in Scioto County, this is the only one that has survived and still remains. Sadly, it has graffiti on certain portions, but is still a beauty! A grant was awarded by the US Department of Transportation to make enhancements and repairs to this bridge.



The covered bridge, as mentioned, can be found just off of State Route 348 in Scioto County, which also serves as one of Ohio's Scenic Byways. There are 27 Scenic Byways in the state, which are designated as such so that they can be enjoyed by tourists and officially recognized as being culturally and geographically significant. The Scenic Scioto Heritage Trail was established in 2007 and winds throughout the county, with a majority of the trail within Shawnee State Park. There are 44 points of interest on the 80-mile trail, including the above-mentioned covered bridge, as well as many Scenic Overlooks within the state park. Other key stops on the trail include: Governor Ted Strickland's boyhood home, Camp OYO Boy Scout Camp, and Ohio's largest Yellow Buckeye Tree.

Shawnee State Park itself is surrounded by the Shawnee State Forest and gets its name from the Shawnee Indians, who used to hunt in the area. Today, the park does not offer hunting, but does accommodate camping, fishing, boating, hiking, swimming, picnicking, tennis, volleyball, basketball, and golf. Also included in the park is a nature center, bridle trails, and many, many more amenities.



Since I was only able to drive a portion of the trail within Shawnee State Park in and near the Village of Otway, I was unable to truly relish the flavor of the area. However, the Scenic Bypass was a great alternative to hiking or biking, which I was unable to do at the time. I would highly recommend you take a drive through this gorgeous park to experience all that the trail has to offer, and be sure to stop at each of the highlighted areas to get the full Shawnee State Park and Scioto County experience.

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