Southern Ohio Expedition 2019

In the Fall of 2019 three of us decided to explored the hundreds of miles of “unmaintained County Roads” in Southeastern Ohio.  Hocking, Vinton and Ross counties have the most of these unmaintained County Roads.  “Nnmaintained County Roads” are road sthat are owned by the state/county, bu they state/county do not maintain them and are allowing nature to overtake the roads.  Some of these roads, rivers and streams have completely taken over the roads. Using various map layers I came up with a game plan to start out at the Hocking Hill’s Visitor Center is where we met up.  We chose not to “air down” or disconnect” as we will be traveling many paved roads.  If we came to a spot where we needed to we can do it there.  

On this expedition was TJ, Johnny and his family, (wife and two boys) and myself.

First fun place to stop at was the Old Mans Cave.  Here is there is a new visitors center, and a great hiking trail network.  We spent about an hour there.  Shortly down the road was the Ash Cave Lookout Tower.  I chose not to climb up the tower tub the rest if the team did.  You can not get into the cab of the lookout, but the views up there are spectacular.  

Lunch was on all of our minds.  A location I picked was a “road” that has been overtaken my a stream.  It’s a fun road and there are a few “waterfalls” that you have to climb.  I was on this road before, and we able to drive back to an old cabin.  Over the year that trail has been overgrown and we could not determine what was a trail.  We ate just off the end of what we through was the road.  

After lunch we retuned down the stream overtaken road, and back on the route.  We had a fun long steep hill climb that was challenging due to recent rain and making the trail muddy.  Working our way west now, we enter Tar Hollow State forest.  Most of these roads are paved or maintained dirt roads, but they are still fun to drive.  We came to a few roads that were closed and had to back track to get out and on the main roads.  

This was long day, its about 2-3 hours of highway driving just to get to the Hocking Hills Visitor Center in the morning, and we have 2+ hours drive home.  We were getting tired and starting to get hungry.  We decided to call it a day.  We feel that we got a good idea about he road network and during the day discussed plans to come back another time.  

Over the winter TJ and I are going to map out all the “unmaintained County Roads” using the County Engineer Office Maps.  We will map these roads out onto Gais GPS.  In Gaia some of these are on the USGS Topo maps, but making out what we thing are the “unmaintained County Roads” we can organize a route structure that will have us minis paved roads as much as possible. Also there are a few other lookout towers to explore as well, maybe a drone might have to come with us to get aerial shots!

On a side note, these roads are not all connected, so you have to take a many paved roads to get between the network of “unmaintained County Roads”.  Many of these “unmaintained County Roads” are also like the wild west.  According to County Engineer maps these are technically county roads, however the local landowner has claimed these roads as private property.  There are many stories how disputes has not been enjoyable or scary.  Many people also use these roads for hunting locations so If your down there during hunting season, be aware and have high visibility vests.

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