Lake Vesuvius Southern Ohio - Backpacking take 2

Lake Vesuvius Southern Ohio - Backpacking take 2

Because of state parks closing and social distancing rules in place we had to cancel our first backpacking trip of the year and change our plans for the second. Our first trip was going to be to Laurel Highlands in Pennsylvania and our second to Grayson Highlands in Virginia. Both of those are getting moved around. That said I am super thankful for the opportunity we had to go somewhere we know and love in our home state of Ohio.

The Lake Vesuvius area was really pretty. We went just this past weekend when spring was in full force. Bright green was everywhere, in the leaves of the trees, high up in the sky and the ferns and bushes all along the trail. It rained the first day but the second, the sky was an amazing azure blue. There were also thousands of wildflowers growing along the trail. I'm not good at identifying them but we saw lots of tiny purple flowers, some little yellow flowers and also quite a few really bright red ones.

The backpackers trail that we did was a really good one for beginners. We hiked about 15 miles over the three days we were there, so it was a not a tone of mileage. Though there are some steep inclines and a couple of stream crossings it was a pretty mild hike with several good camp spots. Some of the trail goes along the lake and for the rest you are hiking in really pretty woods with tall trees and lots of little streams and mossy rocks. The trail is pretty smooth and well kept with a few really steep areas. We took the backpacking trail loop for the most part but on the way out we got onto the lake trail and made our way out that way.

We camped at a spot right by our cars on Thursday. On Friday morning we headed to the boat dock parking lot to park and set off on the trail. The sky was grey and it was chilly. We were expecting rain but it was still a hard 6 mile trek in that constant chilly drizzle. I know there were some pretty views because we doubled back on part of that trail on our way out but when the rain was coming down I was just looking at the trail in front of me and trying to keep dry until we got to our campsite. Our lunch break was one of the most unpleasant I've had on a backpacking trip. There was nowhere dry to sit or set our stuff down so we just stood there in the cold-wet and ate some protein bars. So far the way I'm describing this sounds really bad but the rest of the trip made up for it. And the second day felt even more amazing after we had conquered the first. We made camp around 1:30 or 2pm. We set up in the rain and all got into our tents to get dry and warm. The rain didn't stop until around 5pm. We all crawled out of our cozy little shelters and started getting a humble fire going so we could dry out all of our wet clothes. Only backpacking to you roast socks and shoes over the fire instead of marshmallows. Thankfully we all got pretty dry and the night ended with a golden hour when the sun came out of the clouds and set behind the tall, green hills.

The next morning was beautifully bright, though still quite brisk. We knew we didn't have a lot of hiking that day so we took our time eating breakfast and taking down our tents. We hiked for a few hours in amazing hiking weather, it was sunny and probably in the mid forties or fifties. We stopped for lunch at a nice little stream with a couple fallen logs to sit on. We found our campsite not too long after that. In the evening, after dinner we went out to the river where there were some really big flat rocks to stand on. We stood out there and looked at the stars for bit. They were really pretty and bright but we didn't stay too long because of the cold. Once we got back to our campsite we got our fire roaring and enjoyed its warmth and each other's company for a while.

Sunday morning was cloudy at first but the sun came through the clouds and lit our campsite up with golden light. The hike out was beautyiful! We hiked along streams and creeks and there were really big tall rocks and cliffs. The sky was super bright blue and the water was so nice to walk beside. We saw a couple turtles and also a beaver dam and several trees cut by beavers. 

We have such a great time backpacking but everytime a trip is coming up I start to doubt myself. I think,why am I choosing to leave the comfort of my home for the harsh outdoors where I know I'll be cold and probably wet and uncomfortable and have to use the bathroom in the woods. But after each trip I look back and think of how fun it was and how I am so glad that I put forth the effort and took a risk to do something really fun. I got to enjoy nature for three days straight. The ground was hard to sleep on and it was kinda cold but we had such good times with friends and got to disconect from the craziness of everything going on in the world. I got to put my phone in airplane mode and not even get one notification for three days. It was glorious and though I will enjoy my time in my cozy house and all the amenities of life in between, I am stoked to do it again.

Overall the trip was a huge success. The first day was rough but the latter two days made up for it and there is something really gratifying and fun about conquering the simple challenges of keeping yourself warm and fed in the harsher elements. 

Here are some pics I took along the way.

This is the moment it started to rain. We embrace the term "hiker trash".

Trying to dry our clothes at our campsite after the rain let up. Not too close to the fire...

Getting that hot food cooking - so good after the cold hike!

We even had a nice table to use for cooking!

Gotta dry out those feet.

A beautiful Saturday morning! The sun and clear sky was a welcome sight.

This mossy trail by our campsite was pretty magical.

See those purple flowers in the bottom left of the photo? Those were all over the trail!

There were lots of beautiful little streams and creeks all along our hike. 

Saturday's campsite.

Can you tell we all talk about our gear? Most of us have the same tent or a variation of it.

That fire.

Joyful morning coffee.

The hike out was so lovely! Lots of beautiful bluish grey and golden waters and blue sky.


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I live here and yes it’s a beautiful place to hike and spend some days camping. I don’t kw if your camp found any but there are many of the traveling rocks on the trail, some I’ve placed. In one area there is an old tree that has knife carvings from the 50s. It was just a stream running thur the middle of that valley. And we used to jump off the rock that’s in the lake.

Ed White

Thanks so much for the article on Vesuvius Lake…I was raised close to there..spent a lot of time there camping…the pictures were amazing…such a different…wonderful life !!!! Thanks so much for sharing !!!!!

PAt LAncaster

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