The hustle and bustle of the holiday season has passed and the present is the perfect time for a restorative weekend to enjoy the great outdoors at one of Ohio’s State Park lodges. For me, my choice was a simple one. I wanted a spot nearby with a cozy and woodsy atmosphere and one that offered opportunities to get back in touch with nature and soothe my soul. Finding new experiences invigorating, I decided to visit Shawnee State Park, an unfamiliar area to me situatied in what is known as the “Little Smokies”.
Situated on a bluff in the hills of southern Ohio, the Shawnee State Park Lodge gave me a familiar welcome. The similar style and setting to its sister property at Burr Oak State Park provided an immediate comfort and confirmed that I had made an excellent choice for a weekend getaway. The familiar fireplaces, wooded beams and high ceilings in the lobby area provided a homey space from which to simply sit and read by the fire or enjoy the amazing view just beyond the grand windows. Immediately, relaxation set in and stress melted away.
Communing with nature trumps any medicinal sedative, so getting into the woods topped the list of priorities. Shawnee State Park offers many trails ranging from short half-mile options all the way up to a 40-mile backpacking trail. For my visit, due to snow on the ground, I selected the short and easy Turkey Creek Nature Center Trail. My choice was a short stream side trail with few footprints and the sounds of flowing water along the way. Starting near the Nature Center, I made my way along the path guided by the green blazes so carefully placed along the trail. Sounds unimpressive, but what a relief to know that the trail was beneath the freshly fallen snow that was mostly undisturbed by anything except the tracks of a bird.
Quite near the park are scenic overlooks and a fire tower. A short way down the road is an Ohio Scenic Byway and it’s just a short drive to Portsmouth, right on the Ohio River. The lodge offers an indoor pool, nature nook and activities throughout the winter. With a restaurant on the premises, it’s possible to stay on property to enjoy every bit of atmosphere that Shawnee State Park Lodge has to offer.