Hocking Hills State Parks - Lake Hope click photo to see larger picture

Lake Hope

A natural paradise, Lake Hope State Park lies entirely within the 18,200-acre Zaleski State Forest in the valley of Big Sandy Run. It is a rugged, heavily forested region traversed by steep gorges and narrow ridges. Abandoned mines, ancient mounds and beautiful scenery provide interest and pleasure for hikers, photographers, nature lovers and historians alike at one of Ohio's most historic and scenic state parks.

Nature of the Area

Lake Hope State Park is truly a nature lover's dream. In the forest-draped hills, the observant visitor can discover the abundant natural resources of this wild and scenic park.

Although most of the forest was cut to fuel the iron smelting industry that once flourished here, the land has recovered and supports a magnificent, second-growth forest. Oak and hickory are the dominant trees while the woodland floor harbors a fascinating assemblage of shrubs and wildflowers. The yellow lady's slipper ,one of the rarest and most showy orchids, blooms in secluded hollows. Other spring wildflowers such as blue-eyed mary, bloodroot and wild geranium can be found in abundance.

Deer and wild turkeys are often seen in a number of park locations. Of the many animals inhabiting the park, none is as popular as the beaver. As nature's dam builders, the beavers are found in numbers and can be observed near the quiet inlets of the lake.

History of the Area

Though the roar of the iron furnaces no longer echoes through the hills of Vinton County, there are many reminders of days gone by at Lake Hope State Park. Situated at the heart of Ohio's Hanging Rock iron region, Lake Hope State Park reflects the rich history of much of southeastern Ohio.

The Hope Furnace was built here over 100 years ago to process the iron ore extracted from the region's sandstone bedrock. The iron resulting from the ore smelting process was used to produce many different items, including ammunition and cannon for the Union Army during the Civil War. Hundreds of men labored cutting timber, working the furnace and driving teams of mules hauling iron ore to the furnace. Charcoal fires were tended 24 hours a day; so much wood was required for this process that the surrounding hillsides were almost completely stripped of their timber. At the height of the Hope Furnace's production, Ohio was one of the nation's leading producers of iron. As time passed, iron ore was discovered farther west and Ohio's reputation as a major iron producer waned.

By 1900, nearly all of the major furnaces in southern Ohio were shut down. Today, the Hope Furnace chimney and some of the foundation are all that remain of the structure. In the vicinity of the chimney, one may find pieces of slag, the cast-off residue from the smelting process. These pock-marked, glass-like piece shave now become a part of the forest floor. The forest we now see is one that has grown back where hundreds of years ago a primeval forest once stood.

For a time, coal was an important Vinton County export. A number of mines tunneled into the hills and large quantities of coal were transported out in ox-drawn coal cars. Most of the mines were abandoned early in this century.

Lake Hope State Park was created in 1949 when the Division of Parks and Recreation came into existence.

Dining Lodge

The rustic dining lodge, built of native stone and lumber, offers a spectacular view of the lake. The dining lodge featuresa restaurant, meeting room, snack bar as well as lodge and cabin reservation office. Souvenirs and firewood are available for purchase.


Lake Hope offers family, standard and sleeping cabins for overnight visitors. All cabins have linens, while the family housekeeping and standard cabins have towels and complete cooking utensils. Guests at the sleeping cabins must provide their own cooking utensils. The standard and sleeping cabins are finished in native hardwood and have wood burning fireplaces. Groups may reserve Laurel Lodge, a rustic structure with a beautiful stone fireplace, which sleeps 24 persons, provides kitchen facilities and is open year round.


A beautiful 223-site campground is suitable for tents or trailers. The campground includes heated shower houses, pit latrines, waste disposal, laundry facilities, picnic tables and fire rings. Forty-six sites have electric hookups. Three Rent-A-Camp units consisting of a tent, dining fly, cooler, cook stove and other equipment, and two camper-cabins can be rented during the summer months by reservation. Pets are permitted on a limited number of sites. A group camp is available for organized groups on a reservation basis. A horsemen's camp is offered for bridle trail users in Zaleski State Forest.


Boats with electric motors only may be used on the lake. Canoes and rowboats are available for rent.

Fishing and Hunting

Anglers will find good catches of bluegill, catfish, crappie and largemouth bass at Lake Hope. Hunting is permitted in the adjacent Zaleski State Forest. A valid Ohio hunting or fishing license is required.


A fine swimming beach is located near the dam. Facilities include a bathhouse with restrooms, showers and change booths and a concession building where food and beverages can be purchased.


Picnic areas with tables and grills are located at many secluded and scenic areas around the park. Two picnic shelters are available on a first-come, first-served basis or by reservation.


Fifteen miles of hiking trails traverse the lake and scenic woodlands of the Lake Hope area and offer opportunities for photography and nature study. In the adjacent state forest, a21-mile backpack trail with primitive campsites is available. Backpackers must register upon arrival. Thirty-three miles of bridle trail are available for riders with their own mounts in the state forest.

Lake Hope Furnace.

Lake Hope Pink Lily.

Lake Hope View of Lake.

State Parks