Wayne National Forest – Scenic River and Greenwood Trails
Nearest town: Marietta
Total distance: Scenic River Trail: 3.4 miles point-to-point, Greenwood Trail: 6.5 miles point-to-point; 9.2-mile loop using both trails from the Scenic River Trail’s southern trailhead, 10.6-mile loop from the Scenic River Trail’s northern trailhead; 2.6-mile connector via the North Country Trail/9 Bell Trail to the Archers Fork Trail from the Scenic River Trail’s northern trailhead.
Hiking time: Approximately 5 to 7 hours, or 2 days for overnight
Trail conditions: Excellent
Blazes: Yellow diamonds for the Scenic River Trail. Yellow diamonds with a green dot for the Greenwood Trail. Blue diamonds and yellow diamonds with a red dot for the North Country Trail/9 Bell Trail connector to the Archers Fork Trail
Water: No potable water available along trails. Water drawn from area streams must be treated or filtered.
Highlights: Seclusion, well designed trails, wildlife, abundant rock outcroppings, large timber
Contact info: Wayne National Forest – Marietta Unit, phone: 740-373-9055
Internet: Wayne National Forest
Getting there: To reach the Scenic River Trail’s southern trailhead on State Route 7, travel SR 7 east for 19.6 miles from the interchange of I-77 and SR 7 in Marietta. Park in a pullout on the north side of the road near a small forest service storage building. Overflow parking can be found directly across SR 7 behind a row of pine trees in a grassy area near an oil storage tank. To reach the northern trailhead of the Scenic River Trail, which also serves as an access point for the North Country Trail, travel SR 7 east for 19 miles from the interchange of I-77 and SR 7 in Marietta and turn left onto Archers Fork Road (CR-14). Travel Archers Fork Road for 2.3 miles and turn right onto County Nine Road (CR-9). Travel 1.4 miles on County Nine Road and turn right into a gravel driveway. A small parking area is located a short distance ahead. Do not block the gated forest road exiting the back of the parking area.
Trailhead coordinates: Scenic River Trail’s southern trailhead on State Route 7 – 39.4429°N, 81.1631°W (WGS84); UTM 17 485947E, 4365714N (NAD27). Scenic River Trail’s northern trailhead on County Nine Road – 39.4747°N, 81.1777°W (WGS84); UTM 17 484712E, 4369264N (NAD27).
The Scenic River and Greenwood trails are located in far southeastern Ohio in the heavily forested and sparsely populated northeast corner of Washington County, which is part of the Marietta Management Unit of Wayne National Forest. These trails, along with the nearby Archers Fork Trail, are farther from Ohio’s major metropolitan areas than other trails in the state. Getting to the trailhead may not be as convenient as some other trails, but to experience this trail network in beautiful Appalachia Ohio is worth the drive.
Historically, the region’s flat ridgetops and bottomlands existed as small family farms up to the Depression Era when low crop prices and drought forced families to leave–as much as a 40% decline in population between the years of 1900 and 1930. The land, largely denuded of trees, eroded and robbed of nutrients, became subject to federal purchase in the years to follow after the Ohio State Legislature approved a bill in 1934 allowing the U.S. Government to a create a national forest. Although federal ownership of land within the Marietta Management Unit of Wayne National Forest—and all units, for that matter–is fragmented, a large number of federally owned contiguous tracts have allowed for the creation of a network of lightly used trails extending miles beyond the Scenic River and Greenwood trails. This trail network is a true—albeit little known–resource for Buckeye State hikers, backpackers, mountain bikers, hunters and more.
Under the forest canopy, the landscape of these mountain foothills is characterized by steep slopes and abundant rock outcroppings. At the head of nearly every hollow, a recess cave can be found; broken cliff lines, ranging from small to impressive, cornice the tops of area ridges. These rocky ridges attain an average elevation relief of approximately 400 to 500 feet above the nearby Ohio River. The Macksburg oil and gas field underlies this entire region, so expect to see results of active and historic exploitations of these resources.
Although not old growth by any means, the forests in this part of the Wayne are still stately with oak and hickory forests dominating upland areas. A mixed forest type of cherry, tuliptree, walnut, maple and ash can be found on many slopes. Sycamore and beech are found in wetter bottomlands. A plentiful number of individual trees representing several species, but mainly tuliptree, have avoided the chainsaw for many decades and have grown to quite impressive proportions. With a little imagination, it’s not hard to picture the same scene pioneers experienced when first exploring the Ohio Territory and its virgin forests.
Many woodland animals and birds call these ridges and hollows home. As dusk approaches, it’s not uncommon to hear a pair of noisy owls or the call of the whip-poor-will. Coyotes roam these hills and their howls are often heard at dusk as well. Spotting a black bear passing through the area is a real possibility, as they are known to populate this part of the state. This region is also copperhead and timber rattlesnake country, so a little extra caution should be exercised in warmer months. Not to be forgotten, deer and turkey are well represented here as well.
The 3.4-mile point-to-point Scenic River Trail (SRT) and the 6.5-mile point-to-point Greenwood Trail (GT) combine to create a pleasant backpacking experience. The GT begins and ends at the SRT, with its beginning and ending points separated by 2.1 miles. Until 2014, the GT was named the River Loop Trail. These two trails are open to hiking and mountain biking only, but closed to mountain biking from December 15th to April 15th annually. The River Valley Mountain Bike Association (RVMBA) based in Marietta does a tremendous job in helping the forest service maintain these trails. Both trails have a nicely established tread. Rivulets and low spots are built up with rocks and logs to create a level path and log bridges are constructed over smaller streams. Although trail maintenance is completed with mountain biking in mind, hikers reap the benefit as well. The result is some of Ohio’s finest backcountry trails. RVMBA also maintains other trails linked to the SRT and GT, including parts of the North Country Trail (NCT) and the Archers Fork Trail. RVMBA’s hard work is commended.
The trip described in this document begins at the SRT’s southern trailhead on State Route 7. This is the preferred trailhead as busy SR 7 traffic would likely deter any would-be vandals or thieves from bothering your vehicle. A second SRT trailhead is located to the north on County Nine Road (CR-9) in a remote location and the more likely of the two trailheads to attract evildoers, although the forest service reports a low annual number of vandalism and theft incidents. Day hikers can use either trailhead with virtually no worry of vehicle safety.
The complete trail report, trail notes and trail maps for the Scenic River Trail and the Greenwood Trail (NCT/9 Bell Trail connector to the Archers Fork Trail included) is available as an 9-page downloadable eTrailsOhio PDF file for $5.95. We are the only site with the complete set of information and maps needed to explore these little known and lightly used trails in beautiful southeastern Ohio. BUY IT NOW.