If I were to have visited the 1,110-acre Mohican State Park and the 4,525-acre State Forest in Ohio during the heart of tourist season (April through October), my kids and I would have played putt-putt and ziplined at Mohican Adventures, or went canoeing along the Mohican River with Loudonville Canoe Livery. Then maybe we’d have visited the past at Wolf Creek Pine Run Grist Mill, or taken a dip at Pleasant Hill Lake Park, and gone horseback riding along Bridle Trail. Malabar Farm State Park was another stop we hoped to visit, but available times prohibited us. And If my children were old enough, we would have ziplined and scaled ladders at Tree Frog Canopy Tours (Must be at least 10). Since we were visiting during November, it meant we spent an abundance of time exploring the forest, and that was perfectly fine with us.
Mohican State Park in the Off-Season
There are many reasons to go on vacation during non-peak seasons, such as a lack of crowds, cheaper hotel rates, and did I mention a lack of crowds? Shortages of swarms are what I was looking forward to when The Mohicans reached out to me about a stay in one of their treehouses. As a fan of Treehouse Masters on Animal Planet and with an overwhelming desire to rush away from NYC, I jumped at the opportunity to visit The Mohicans for rest and relaxation, even if it meant not being able to utilize all the area has to offer. As Spider-Man’s Uncle Ben once stated, “With rest comes great responsibility.” Actually, nobody ever said that. And that’s why visiting The Mohicans and hiking the state park and state forest was an answer to my getaway desire.
We arrived at The Mohicans after traveling down winding dirt roads through Amish Country and passing many farms. The Mohicans offers guests an opportunity to stay in a treehouse or a cabin. Luckily for my kids and me, during our vacation, we settled into both. The first two nights we were in a treehouse and the last 2 nights we resided in a cabin. Alongside each treehouse and cabin is a fire ring pit, where my kids and I made nightly s’mores and told ghost stories. The treehouses and cabins also include kitchens, and since we were on a tight budget, we cooked all our meals. We felt relaxed all 4 nights as we drifted off to sleep to the sounds of wind drifting through trees while stirring up leaves.
Cool temperatures surrounded us during our trip, which made perfect hiking weather. Since there were few businesses open, hiking is what we mostly did. We slept-in each day and started our day at a leisurely pace. The Mohicans is about 15 miles from the state forest (also known as The Mohican-Memorial State Forest), and state park. Each day, we drove along the area’s dirt and paved roads to discover great hiking trails. Signs along the road around the park and forest let you know when you’re near a trail. We were told the hikes are moderate to difficult, but we found each trail to be easily managed. Since I was hiking with a 4-year-old and 7-year-old, we stopped often and I brought lunches and snacks for our frequent stops. We are a family of hikers though, so other families might find some trails a little more challenging. Know your own limits, whatever they may be.
Hiking with my Kids
Throughout our hikes, we hit most of the must-see spots. Clear Fork Gorge is a huge glacier-induced valley made thousands of years ago, where we spotted two bald eagles soaring above looking for prey. We also made use of a bathroom and picnic areas with a clean picnic table located at the top of the gorge. Good luck finding flush toilets while hiking though. We didn’t find any of those. There are many picnicking areas throughout the park and forest though.
Our favorite hike was a loop we took along Lyons Falls Trail, Pleasant Hill Trail, and through Hemlock forest. That hike was the longest of the trip and covered close to 9.5 miles in and out. There were some slippery spots, so be careful if you are hiking with little ones because there are cliffs, bridges, waterfalls, and caves along this hike.
The Perrysville Covered Bridge made for a perfect spot to snap a picture of the Chevy Traverse we were provided for the trip and next to the bridge was another picnic area to eat our lunch and release more energy on a small playground.
For those that are not afraid of heights, you can climb an 80-foot fire tower that overlooks the natural regions of the area. However, if traveling with kids, the steps are steep. We climbed about half-way before my 4-year-old had enough. Also, near the fire tower is a memorial shrine honoring Ohioans who have lost their lives in service.
Hershberger’s Farm and Bakery
Besides hiking, the only other touristy thing we did while in the area was visit Hershberger’s Farm and Bakery and was the highlight (besides the treehouse) for my city kids. Hershberger’s Farm lies in Amish Country in Millersburg, Ohio. If you were to ask my children what their favorite activity was, they would respond “feeding the animals on the farm.” There is an area on the farm similar to an indoor petting zoo where visitors can buy food for the animals and feed them. And let me admit, we came close to buying a piglet for $25 before we left. The giggles that emitted from my children’s bodies are the main reason I travel so much with them. Also, the bakery on the farm is a must-stop. We loaded up on homemade fudge, candy, apple cider, cheese, and butter. Do not go through Amish Country in Ohio without acquiring a few pounds of baby swiss cheese.
You don’t have to travel during peak tourist seasons to experience a great family vacation. With the right mindset and the right travel goals, any trip can be a memorable family getaway. For us, slowing down and relaxation was our mission, and we accomplished it.
Getting to Mohican State Park
The Mohican State Park and Mohican State Forest is between Cleveland and Columbus off of I-71. I-77 and State Route 3 and convenient for day trips or extended stays. Making it a road trip is the preferred way to travel, but if flying, the closest airport is John Glenn International Airport in Columbus Ohio.
Mohican State Park Lodging:
There are many bed and breakfasts, camping sites, and hotels near the park and forest and in nearby towns Ashland, Mount Vernon, Millersburg, Mount Gilead, and Mansfield. The Mohicans is in a perfect location for those wanting a peaceful and unique moment. If staying in Mansfield, visit the Ohio State Reformatory where Shawshank Redemption was filmed.
Campers who are looking to stay right in the State Park have many campsite options from bare minimum to full hookup sites with dump stations and most of the sites are electric sites. A section of the campsite houses a swimming pool and large playground.
Disclaimer: The Mohicans hosted my stay and Chevrolet provided a means of transportation. The words and experiences are that of the author.