BACKPACKING



East Fork's 2 Backpacking Loops are a welcome presence so close to the city, but they are not perfect. In some areas the trails run right up against people's backyards. There are many road crossings. And when it rains hard, get ready for trouble. Endless mud and muck, and rapidly moving streams that you will have to get knee-deep in to cross. It's likely you will find some of the adversity to be an annoyance and some to be a part of the aesthetic wonder of this place. The adversity also makes East Fork a great staging ground to test your camping skills, clothing, tent, and other equipment before setting out for more remote destinations.

Both hiking loops have primitive camping sites called Overnight Areas located along them, there are a total of 4 Overnight Areas. Areas #1 and #2 are shared by both backpacking loops, since the two loops run close to each other at these points. All of the areas have room to set up your tent. For those who want to travel ultra-light, there are small wooden bunkhouses at each Overnight Area as well. Be sure to bring a sleeping pad and bag if you intend to use the bunkhouses, and be forewarned, they are not the best of accommodations. Muddy floors, wasp nests, bird nests and other nasty things often await you in them.

Be sure you are equipped with sturdy hiking boots that will keep your feet dry, the trail can be very muddy (swampy would be a better word) at times, with river crossings that are sometimes deep. Also, bring a compass. If backpacking, bring your water purifier or carry in your water, safe water is not provided at the overnight areas.

No matter which loop you choose, I recommend you first visit the Visitor Center to pick up a map and check on the trail conditions.

After going to the visitor center, begin your excursion at the south access point.

Study the large map at the parking lot, it depicts both trails clearly and shows the location of the overnight areas.

Steve Newman Worldwalker Perimeter Trail

Marked with green blazes, this 33 mile long loop skirts completely around the lake. It is also used as a horse trail, which can make the trail a bit rough at times for hikers. This trail crosses the East Fork of the Little Miami River twice, so if the water level is deep, you may find yourself in trouble.

Backpack Trail

Marked with orange blazes, this trail is really a one-way trail with a couple mile long loop at the end. The hike from the South Access point, around the loop, and back to the south access point is around 20 miles. It traverses some of the more interesting viewpoints in the East Fork Region. Horses are not permitted on this trail, and overall it is much more pleasant than the Perimeter trail.


If you wish to forego the adversity, choose the Backpack trail, for it has been designed to be as gentle as possible. The Perimeter Trail is much more rugged, expect a couple of tricky river crossings and rough terrain. If you do choose to hike the Perimeter Trail, I only recommend hiking it during July or August, when the weather is drier and you are less likely to be turned around due to an impossible river crossing.


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