Ohioans are lucky to have such a great collection of local and state parks to enjoy the beauty of Ohio’s natural landscapes. Most of Ohio’s parks welcomes visitors year-round, but the fall, in my opinion, is the best season to explore Ohio’s natural beauty. With the changing autumnal colors and crisp fall air, a visit to an Ohio State Park is the perfect way to escape the demands of everyday life and revel in splendor of the autumn season! With an opportunity to explore Shawnee State Park and stay at Shawnee Lodge & Conference Center, my husband and I welcomed an overnight stay in the rolling hills of southern Ohio!
Nestled within the 1,095-acres of the Shawnee State Park in the 63,000-acre Shawnee State Forest sits the rustic Shawnee Lodge & Conference Center. This spacious resort lodge is comprised of 50 lodge rooms, 25 family cottages, a restaurant and bar (The Smokehouse at Shawnee State Park and Tecumseh Lounge), gift shop, two pools (indoor and outdoor), hot tub, basketball and shuffleboard courts, gym facilities, a game room, golf course and spectacular views of southern Ohio’s rolling hills.
The 50 lodge rooms are available with Standard Double beds or a Standard King bed. The rooms are fully equipped with air conditioning/heating, satellite television, mini-refrigerators, bathrooms with bathtubs and a private balcony with views of the surrounding forest.
The 25 family cottages sleep up to six have two bedrooms, a bathroom, living area, fully-equipped kitchen and dining area, gas log fireplace, screened porch, outdoor fire ring and grill. Four of the cottages are even pet friendly to accommodate your best furry friend!
We checked into our room, then explored the spacious lodge and took in the spectacular views of the rolling hills and river from a rocking chair on the lodge’s balcony. With what seemed like endless views of the winding river and lush trees, the balcony was the perfect place to start relaxing from our everyday demanding routines and to enjoy the peacefulness of Ohio’s natural landscapes!
After reflecting on the natural beauty of the Appalachian foothills, we set out to explore Shawnee State Park. With 65 miles of hiking trails within the 1,095-acres of park in the 63,000 acres of Shawnee State Forest, novice and seasoned hikers will find marked trails which lead you on an adventure throughout the park.
We asked the friendly lodge staff for hiking recommendations and found our way to the nearest hiking trail. Lucky for us, the closest trail was just on the edge of the lodge’s parking lot. We set out on a two-hour, self-guided hike along the marked trails through Shawnee State Forest and around Turkey Creek Lake. At a leisurely pace, we made plenty of stops to appreciate the beauty of nature and snap some photos of our natural surroundings! With the crisp fall air, the leaves crunching under our feet and the views of the forest and Turkey Creek Lake, our hike had us feeling invigorated!
Once home to the Shawnee Indians, the picturesque park welcomes visitors to explore the erosion-carved valleys, wooded hills and lush forest of the Appalachian foothills. Shawnee State Park offers visitors an array of outdoor activities, such as boating, fishing, camping, hiking, bird-watching, picnic areas, swimming at public beaches at both Roosevelt Lake and Turkey Creek Lake, bridle trails, an archery range, horseshoe pits, playground equipment, geocaching and a nature center (open from Memorial Day through Labor Day).
Hiking and exploring the great outdoors can work-up an appetite. With the park situated in the rugged hills of southern Ohio, the nearest restaurants are located about a 20-minute drive from the park. Conveniently located within the resort, The Smokehouse at Shawnee State Park offers guests breakfast, lunch and dinner and the Tecumseh Lounge offers appetizers, pizzas and drinks for guests with smaller appetites. After our hike, we enjoyed a few appetizers and drinks from the Tecumseh Lounge while watching the Ohio State football game. The next morning, we ate a hearty breakfast at The Smokehouse while enjoying the views of the rolling hills.
Although you could spend your entire visit just exploring the natural beauty of the park, I would suggest visiting the river town of Portsmouth. Located at the convergence of the Ohio and Scioto Rivers, an approximate 15 to 20-minute drive from Shawnee State Park, the quaint town offers shopping, dining, gorgeous river views and the Flood Wall Murals. The 20-foot tall floodwall, that once protected Portsmouth from the Ohio River, now invites visitors to stroll along the wall to view the hand-painted art murals that depict Ohio’s history. The Flood Wall Murals are quite impressive!
The Great Ohio Lodges are a collection of three resort lodges located in three of Ohio’s State Parks. Burr Oak Lodge & Conference Center (located near Glouster in southeastern Ohio), Hueston Woods Lodge & Conference Center (located near Miami University in southwestern Ohio) and Shawnee Lodge & Conference Center. Each lodge offers great amenities and recreational activities year-round, and money-saving promotions such as Savvy Senior Weekend Rates, Stay 4 A’s Promotion (discounts for students receiving A’s on their report card) and Romance Packages. Please visit www.greatohiolodges.com to learn more about each facility and to plan your next nature weekend getaway!
Our overnight stay at Shawnee Lodge & Conference Center allowed us to re-connect with nature and enjoy the loveliness of the autumn season displayed throughout southern Ohio’s rolling hills and natural scenic landscapes! To plan your getaway to Shawnee Lodge & Conference Center, please visit www.shawneeparklodge.com.
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