Wayne National Forest – Wildcat Hollow Trail
County: Perry, Morgan
Nearest town: Corning
Total distance: 14.7-mile loop; a day hike cutoff trail creates a 4.9-mile loop for day hikers
Hiking time: 3 hours for the short loop, 8 to 10 hours or 2 days for the entire trail
Trail conditions: Well established
Blazes: White diamonds
Water: None along the trail. Water must be carried or cached at road crossings. There are few reliable sources along the trail; streams become dry in the absence of wet weather.
Highlights: Pleasant forest hiking, excellent wildflowers, majestic pine plantations
Contact info: Wayne National Forest – Athens Ranger District, phone: 740-753-0101
Internet: Wayne National Forest
Getting there: From State Route 13 heading north, 4.5 miles north of Glouster, or 3.5 miles south of Corning, turn right (east) onto Irish Ridge Road (County Road 16). In 0.1 mile, Irish Ridge Road will make a sharp left, continue to follow it for another 1.8 miles and turn right onto Dew Road (County Road 69). After turning onto Dew Road, the distance to the trailhead is 1.6 miles. Halfway to the trailhead, Dew Road will turn into Sunday Creek Road at the Morgan County line. Unless vandalized, signs will guide you to the trailhead from SR 13.
Trailhead coordinates: 39.5727°N, 82.0327°W (WGS84); UTM 17 411259E 4380538N (NAD27)
The same gentle hills that create the picturesque backdrop for nearby Burr Oak Lake provide the landscape for the Wildcat Hollow Trail. This calm and scenic section of Wayne National Forest sits in quiet contrast to a tumultuous past. Early coal, oil and iron ore extraction, which largely ended in the 1920s, took a heavy toll on the region’s environment. Although forests now cover many of the scars left behind by the early mining and population boom, signs of the region’s mineral and human history are still visible in the form of old wells, tanks, pipelines and homesteads, just to name a few. Some oil, gas and coal continues to be extracted from the region today.
The name Wildcat Hollow is derived from a mile-long hollow located north of the trailhead along the Morgan-Perry County line. Perhaps that name reflects the historic presence of bobcat, or some other cat, in these woods. The woods of Wildcat Hollow consist mainly of oak, hickory and beech trees. Many lovely pine plantations are present in this section of the Wayne as well. Elevation relief in these rolling foothills struggles to reach 300 feet, averaging more in the range of 200 to 250 feet.
In 2008 and 2009, this part of Wayne National Forest was hit hard by multiple windstorms and at least one major ice storm. Because of their softer wood, many of the area’s lovely pine plantations sustained heavy damage, with some nearly leveled to the ground.
The Wildcat Hollow Trail offers two trip options: a 14.7-mile loop and a shorter 4.9-mile loop for day hikers created by a 0.4-mile cutoff trail. The Wildcat Hollow Trail is a scenic trail winding along ridgetops and through stream bottoms, allowing those who walk it to venture through grand deciduous forests and pine plantations, open meadows, quiet streams and down old roads. In fact, the numerous pine plantations visited by the trail add a pleasant touch of variety to what would otherwise be a typical hike through typical southern Ohio deciduous forest. Wildflowers are at their peak in the spring. Deer and other wildlife are plentiful. For those interested in a multi-night trip, a short connector trail goes south from the trailhead to link with the nearby Burr Oak State Park backpack trail.
This white diamond marked trail is one of the most popular in Wayne National Forest. It is well worn and easy to follow. Opportunities to stray unintentionally from the main trail do exist, but they are small in number. The trail is well engineered, with gentle slopes and switchbacks as needed. The trail appears to be better marked for a clockwise direction of travel. Although the trail stays on federal land, private land is often nearby, especially along the trail’s northern stretches. Care should be taken when camping or trekking away from the trail. The close proximity to private land means barking dogs, farmyard animals and the roaring engines of off-road vehicles are often heard. The drone of heavy machinery operating at the large Buckingham Coal Mine #7 located just off State Route 13 to the west is audible on parts of the trail as well. This all said, if your timing is right, this trip can also be very peaceful.
The complete trail report, trail notes and trail map for the Wildcat Hollow Trail is available as a 7-page downloadable eTrailsOhio PDF file for $5.95. We are the only ones to map and document all of the campsites along this trail. This product is an indispensable planning tool if you are new to Wildcat Hollow. BUY IT NOW.