Welcome to the Wayne National Forest

The Wayne National Forest is located in the hills of southeastern Ohio. This small national forest, in the heart of the heavily populated Midwest, covers almost a quarter million acres of Appalachian foothills. The Wayne is divided into three blocks administered by two Ranger Districts at Athens and Ironton. A field office is also located east of Marietta.

Visitors to national forest lands are welcome to camp, hike, hunt and fish. The Forest boundaries surround a checkerboard pattern of ownership, with public and private ownership interspersed. There are over 300 miles of trails on the Forest for hiking, all-terrain vehicle (ATV) riding, mountain biking, or horseback riding.
Click here to go to the ATV/OHV page!

About the Wayne National Forest

Discover the wonder and beauty of the Wayne National Forest. Tucked away in the Appalachian foothills, you'll experience the natural beauty of wildflowers, rocks formations, trees, butterflies, and abundant wildlife.

white trilium in bloom

Explore the Forest's hills, fishing lakes, rivers, and trails. Every season holds its own special beauty: the white dogwoods and pink redbuds of spring; summer's emerald hills reflected in quiet lakes; the colorful pallet of autumn; and the shimmering beauty of a new snowfall. Campgrounds sheltered under towering trees and thousands of acres open to hunting and nature study await your visit.

The Wayne NF is located in three units. These units are located across twelve Ohio Counties. Although the boundaries include 833,990 acres, most of the land within those boundaries is in private ownership. The national forest exists as a patchwork across the land, normally occupying lands less suitable for agricultural or commercial development.

The mix of open land and forest provides a wide variety of wildlife habitats. Common mammals include white-tailed deer, gray fox, woodchuck, opossum, and gray squirrel. Common birds are turkey, ruffed grouse, pleated woodpecker and wood duck.

Contact Information:

Wayne National Forest
13700 US Highway 33
Nelsonville, OH 45764
(740) 753-0101

Additional Information:
Wayne National Forest - Forest Service
HockingHills.com - Great site for finding available lodging and activities.

Passes and Permits

riding horse with permits on the Wayne NFThe Wayne National Forest manages many resources with the objective of caring for the land and serving people. Management protects natural resource values, public health and safety, and is consistent with the Forest land and resource management goals outlined in the Forest Plan. In order to meet these objectives, permits may be required for the occupancy and use of Forest Service land or resources. Additionally, passes assist is funding certain management projects or activities.


  • Trail Permits for ATV, OHV, Horse, and mountain bike use
  • Geocaching
  • Outfitter/Guide Commercial Permits

Forest Products:

  • Plant collection permits are required for digging plants
  • Permits are required for collecting edible material, decorative material, etc if used for commercial purposes
  • Minerals
  • Woody material (includes Firewood permit information).

Events and Commercial Permits:

  • Group use - groups larger than 75 people
  • Outfitter guides


  • Permits for other items such as electrical easements, utility lines
  • Private roads across national forest land
  • Oil and gas pipelines, wells or holding tanks...etc.

Two documents may help with these type of permits in the "Other category". The first document describes the application process and the second is the form applicants need to complete.

Please contact the appropriate Ranger District Office for more information on obtaining a permit.



Backpacking or cross country hiking is permitted anywhere on National Forest (NF) lands. Take extra precautions during hunting seasons by wearing bright orange clothing. It is a good idea to carry a compass. Forest streams do not meet the safety standards for drinking water. We recommend taking your water with you. NF ownership is not continuous and private lands are interspersed. Respect the rights of these owners by staying on public lands.

Keep away from oil/gas operations, they are private property and potentially dangerous. Pump jacks may begin to operate without warning and any open flame, firearm discharge, or spark could cause an explosion.

Except for seeing eye dogs, all pets must be caged or placed on a leash no longer than six feet long when using designated trails, at trailheads, or within any developed recreation areas.

Primitive Camping
Primitive Camping is allowed on NF land away from developed campgrounds and anywhere that your camping equipment and/or vehicle do not block developed trails or road right-of-ways.

Plan to bring enough drinking water for the duration of your stay. Leave a clean campsite by packing out all refuse. There is no charge for primitive camping, although a 14 day limitation is in effect. It is not normally necessary to check in with the Forest Service. However, groups larger than 25 people require a permit and prior coordination is required.

Small, open fires are permitted except during extremely high fire danger. No special permits are required. Please use extreme caution with campfires and make sure they are dead out before vacating the campsite. Use only dead and down material for firewood. Cutting or defacing live trees or shrubs is prohibited. Campfires are not allowed within rock shelters.

Permits Required
A Forest Trail Permit is required to operate off-road vehicles and mountain bikes or to ride horses on the Wayne National Forest. Please review the Forest Trail Permit System.

Non-motorized bicycles are permitted on the ATV trail systems on the Wayne NF. A handout is available showing which trails allow for mountain bikes. Use caution since bicycles are sharing the trails with ATVs and hikers.

All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs)
There are several areas which provide designated ATV trails. All vehicles must be properly licensed or have an APV sticker and drivers must abide by State laws.

Campground Reservations
Reservations are not required for developed campsites. However, to be assured a campsite, especially on holiday weekends, you may wish to make a reservation. To reserve a campsite at the Vesuvius or Leith Run Recreation Areas call the National Reservation System at the toll free number 1-877-444-6777. Hearing impaired persons should call 1-877-833-6777. You can also reserve a site online at www.recreation.gov. A reservation service fee of $10 will be charged. You should call 5 days in advance. Camping is limited to 14 days within a 21 day period.

Personal property should not be left unattended for more than 24 hours and campsites should be occupied the first night.

Hunting, Trapping, and Fishing
State laws on hunting, trapping and fishing are enforced on NF lands, requiring either a resident or non-resident license. Generally hunting is allowed anywhere on NF land. An exception is recreation areas with designated boundaries. In all areas with scattered ownership please have a detailed map and do not trespass on adjacent private land.

Discharging a firearm (including a bow and arrow) is prohibited in or within 150 yards of a developed recreation site, trailhead, a residence, or any place where people are likely to be. Shooting across roads or bodies of water is also prohibited. State law prohibits target practicing on all public lands (including the Wayne National Forest), except when legally pursuing game.