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  1. #1
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    Camping @ West Branch State Park (OH)

    Just wondering if anybody could comment on the camp facilities there? It's about an hour and a half from me and that would be pretty cool for an overnighter or weekend getaway to bike and hike. I have a small pop-up camper or sometimes we just camp in my Honda Element (the wife doesn't like to sleep in a tent ) Since I am just getting into riding I am hoping to hit a few of the local state parks (with trails) that might not have considered doing prior, so any recommendations would be great!

  2. #2
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    The campgrounds are okay - nothing special. The sites are along the north side of the reservoir. Last time we camped there a group close to us was up all night with a bonfire, drinking beer and being very LOUD. There are no rangers there at night, so whatever happens you just have to deal with. This seems to be the case anymore at any State Park in Ohio - I had the same experience at Beaver Creek. But the campground is pretty close to the mtb trails, only like a mile ride on the road.

    Don't know where abouts you're located, but for other riding/camping spots try Findley SP, Mohican SP, Lake Hope SP, even Beaver Creek (though the trails aren't as good). If western PA isn't too far you might try Moraine SP. If you like backcountry camping try riding in to camp at Kennerdell, PA.

    As for getting the wife to be comfortable camping, have you tried one of those queen size air mattresses in the tent? They aren't too expensive, inflate quickly with the air pump and actually are pretty darn comfortable. Another thing you might try would be a decent cot, though some aren't that comfortable at all.

    Good luck.

    Steve Z
    Pedaling when it's dry
    And paddling when it's wet

    My insignificant blog:
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by swampboy62 View Post
    The campgrounds are okay - nothing special. The sites are along the north side of the reservoir. Last time we camped there a group close to us was up all night with a bonfire, drinking beer and being very LOUD. There are no rangers there at night, so whatever happens you just have to deal with. This seems to be the case anymore at any State Park in Ohio - I had the same experience at Beaver Creek. But the campground is pretty close to the mtb trails, only like a mile ride on the road.

    Don't know where abouts you're located, but for other riding/camping spots try Findley SP, Mohican SP, Lake Hope SP, even Beaver Creek (though the trails aren't as good). If western PA isn't too far you might try Moraine SP. If you like backcountry camping try riding in to camp at Kennerdell, PA.

    As for getting the wife to be comfortable camping, have you tried one of those queen size air mattresses in the tent? They aren't too expensive, inflate quickly with the air pump and actually are pretty darn comfortable. Another thing you might try would be a decent cot, though some aren't that comfortable at all.

    Good luck.

    Steve Z


    She's comfortable camping, just doesn't want to sleep in a tent. Her one and only experience with me in a tent was a complete disaster. It rained, it was a borrowed tent that had holes, somebody else set it up and they did so in a low area so water collected where the tent was, etc.. The Element is pretty comfortable to camp in. I made a platform that allows plenty of space for both of us to sleep and there's room underneath to store gear. I can't post pictures yet to show you

  4. #4
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    I'll definately be trying to hit some of those other parks also. I hadn't heard of West Branch and just wondered what the camping was like. Her biggest thing is a CLEAN bathroom/shower area. I'm not a noisy camper and other campers that are kind of annoy me, but if I'm riding, I might be tired enough not to worry about it

  5. #5
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    .....and now that I have hit 10 posts, lol

    2004 Honda Element in camp mode.









    and the 83 Coachmen pop-up

    Last edited by NismoGriff; 03-10-2012 at 08:09 PM.

  6. #6
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    Heck yeah. That'll work! Nice looking set up.

    Something like that would be great for some National Forest exploration. Lots of places to camp roadside on the forest back roads, and no noisy neighbors. Over at the Allegheny Nat'l Forest in PA there's a ton of great camping like that, but you have to hunt for the trails (or just explore and find what's there). But if you were taking a rig like that to West Virginia's Monongahela Nat'l Forest you'd still have a ton of great camping, and there's a wide variety of well known trails to choose from (I'm a big fan of WV). Plus there's a bunch of other outdoorsy stuff to do for spouses.

    Also, the trails at Kennerdell - that might be something you'd want to look in on if a trip into PA isn't a major expedition. There is backcountry (backpacking, bikepacking) camping available from the trails up on top of the plateau. But there's an old road, usually gated off, down along the Allegheny River that gives access to an old campground down by the river. It's been a while since I read the regs, but I believe the road can be opened to give access to the campground if you make arrangements beforehand. This would be choice - camping in the quiet of the Allegheny Gorge with access to great trails from the campground. This is officially the Kennerdell tract of Clear Creek State Forest, so you'd have to get hold of the forest supervisor through the PA DCNR to make arrangements. I've ridden there a mess of times and it is a really fun place, with some flowy trails up on the plateau and a couple of insane downhills coming back to the river (just thinking about it makes me want to go there tomorrow).

    Steve Z
    Pedaling when it's dry
    And paddling when it's wet

    My insignificant blog:
    http://swampboy62.blogspot.com/

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by swampboy62 View Post
    Heck yeah. That'll work! Nice looking set up.

    Something like that would be great for some National Forest exploration. Lots of places to camp roadside on the forest back roads, and no noisy neighbors. Over at the Allegheny Nat'l Forest in PA there's a ton of great camping like that, but you have to hunt for the trails (or just explore and find what's there). But if you were taking a rig like that to West Virginia's Monongahela Nat'l Forest you'd still have a ton of great camping, and there's a wide variety of well known trails to choose from (I'm a big fan of WV). Plus there's a bunch of other outdoorsy stuff to do for spouses.

    Also, the trails at Kennerdell - that might be something you'd want to look in on if a trip into PA isn't a major expedition. There is backcountry (backpacking, bikepacking) camping available from the trails up on top of the plateau. But there's an old road, usually gated off, down along the Allegheny River that gives access to an old campground down by the river. It's been a while since I read the regs, but I believe the road can be opened to give access to the campground if you make arrangements beforehand. This would be choice - camping in the quiet of the Allegheny Gorge with access to great trails from the campground. This is officially the Kennerdell tract of Clear Creek State Forest, so you'd have to get hold of the forest supervisor through the PA DCNR to make arrangements. I've ridden there a mess of times and it is a really fun place, with some flowy trails up on the plateau and a couple of insane downhills coming back to the river (just thinking about it makes me want to go there tomorrow).

    Steve Z
    WV is beautiful. I have access to a family cabin there. It's in the Red Creek/Dolly Sods area.... basically at the base of Dolly Sods if I remember correctly. It's been a while since I've been up there. The last time I was there with the wife, we got unloaded npacked and into the cabin and it took about 45 minutes for her to say "I can't stay here" lol. We cooked dinner, cleaned up, packed up and ended up driving to snow shoe I think. I think she's "toughened up" some since then. Oddly enough the only bike I have ridden in that area is was my 95 Honda VFR750F. WV mountain roads on a sportbike are a blast, except for the critters that cross the roads, lol.

    Looks like that area of PA is roughly 3.5 hours from me.... not bad at all. I was curious about the trails at Mohican. Online it says recommended for advanced riders, what are your thoughts on them? I'm hoping to be able to ride that type of stuff by summers end.

  8. #8
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    Mohican isn't all that technical, it's the hill climbing that's a challenge. Lots of up and down over the long (24 mile) loop. Best to plan one of the shorter loops for the first time there if you're not sure about energy for repeated climbs.

    Never been there, but Lake Hope has a really good rep and has camping.

    Dolly Sods is one of my absolute favorite places. Been dreaming about trying a ride on the Roaring Plains this year.

    Steve Z
    Pedaling when it's dry
    And paddling when it's wet

    My insignificant blog:
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by swampboy62 View Post
    Mohican isn't all that technical, it's the hill climbing that's a challenge. Lots of up and down over the long (24 mile) loop. Best to plan one of the shorter loops for the first time there if you're not sure about energy for repeated climbs.

    Never been there, but Lake Hope has a really good rep and has camping.

    Dolly Sods is one of my absolute favorite places. Been dreaming about trying a ride on the Roaring Plains this year.

    Steve Z
    Yea, like I said, maybe later in the summer after I have been riding for a bit.

    Are you familiar with the area at the base Dolly Sods? There is/was a small Ranger station there and an A-frame cabin... our cabin is about a mile or 2 down the road from that.

    I rode one of these across the Sods, lol.


    (not mine, but it was identical)

    One of the guys I was with got a flat near the top. That completely changed the weekend plans, lol.

  10. #10
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    Are you talking about the area near Lanesville, where Red Creek crosses the road? We backpacked in there one time, heading up Red Creek quite a ways. Absolutely beautiful country down there.

    Too bad all those trails in Dolly Sods are off limits to bikes now.

    Steve Z
    Pedaling when it's dry
    And paddling when it's wet

    My insignificant blog:
    http://swampboy62.blogspot.com/

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by swampboy62 View Post
    Are you talking about the area near Lanesville, where Red Creek crosses the road? We backpacked in there one time, heading up Red Creek quite a ways. Absolutely beautiful country down there.

    Too bad all those trails in Dolly Sods are off limits to bikes now.

    Steve Z
    I believe so, but I don't know the specific names of roads. Once I get in the area, I just use familiar landmarks to get me to the cabin. There is a brigde that has always been known to me as "the submarine bridge" because it's just a concrete bridge that gets submerged when the water is high (which I believe is Red Creek or "crick" if my dad says it, lol). You then cross another single lane bridge that is a steel structure covered in heavy wooden planks IIRC and this is where I believe the Ranger station is. I tried calling my dad to see if the cabin has a physical address but he said if it does, he doesn't know it, lol. I'm going to look on Google satellite to see if I can find it.

    No bikes on the trails huh, do you know why that is? All this talk about it has got me wanting to take a trip to the cabin. Wish I wasn't trying to hold my vacation time for a trip to Maine

  12. #12
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    The USFS made Dolly Sods into a wilderness area - and no bikes allowed in wilderness areas (truly a miguided rule if there ever was one). The trails at Roaring Plains are almost as dramatic as the ones on Dolly Sods, but are outside the wilderness area. Dunno if I'm up for riding as tough as that but I'd like to give 'er a try.

    I can sympathize - if I had time I'd head down there this weekend. I'm pretty familiar with the northern half of the Nat'l Forest and could easily find a dozen ways to spend a weekend.

    The trails up by Davis have a wide variety of difficulty. The mtb shop in town is an excellent resource for picking the right trail and getting maps. Plus the Seneca Creek and Spruce Knob trail network give you miles of trail, from impossible rocks to flowing through the woods.

    Damn, I've GOT to make time & money for a WV trip soon...

    Steve Z
    Pedaling when it's dry
    And paddling when it's wet

    My insignificant blog:
    http://swampboy62.blogspot.com/

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by swampboy62 View Post
    The USFS made Dolly Sods into a wilderness area - and no bikes allowed in wilderness areas (truly a miguided rule if there ever was one). The trails at Roaring Plains are almost as dramatic as the ones on Dolly Sods, but are outside the wilderness area. Dunno if I'm up for riding as tough as that but I'd like to give 'er a try.

    I can sympathize - if I had time I'd head down there this weekend. I'm pretty familiar with the northern half of the Nat'l Forest and could easily find a dozen ways to spend a weekend.

    The trails up by Davis have a wide variety of difficulty. The mtb shop in town is an excellent resource for picking the right trail and getting maps. Plus the Seneca Creek and Spruce Knob trail network give you miles of trail, from impossible rocks to flowing through the woods.

    Damn, I've GOT to make time & money for a WV trip soon...

    Steve Z
    After I asked I was reading on the Dolly Sods site that it was a wilderness area. I spent a couple hours looking around on the web while at work and I just can't find our cabin It's funny how things change.... I spent time down there as a kid and although I enjoyed it, I never really "took it in" like I should have. As I got older, I can appreciate the beauty of it all but can't get the time to spend down there. When I called my dad to ask about the address, he was asking if I was planning a trip down there and sounded excited. I told him I wasn't but it got me thinking. I think I will need to MAKE the time real soon to take a trip with my dad, he's in his 70's and not getting any younger.

    I'm thinking tomorrow morning is going to be spent working on the bike some to see if I can tweak some things a bit and hopefully get some riding in. I'm off the next two days and it supposed to be in the 60's

  14. #14
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    They re-did the WB campground a few years ago, so all the facilities are newer and very nice compared to most camping facilities.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rturanc View Post
    They re-did the WB campground a few years ago, so all the facilities are newer and very nice compared to most camping facilities.
    That's good to know. Couple of nice days back to back has really got me wanting to take a trip. I did get a couple rides in though.

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