Wayne National Forest Lake Vesuvius Hike

View from the trail

View from the trail

A few weeks ago, I decided to brave my first overnight backpacking trip to Wayne National Forest to hike to 16-mile Lake Vesuvius Backpacking trail. It didn't end up exactly as planned (most hikes never do), but we still have a blast and at the end, figured out we can do a lot more than we give ourselves credit for!


My friend Amber, her dog Loretta Pine and I headed out of Columbus around 11 am on a Saturday morning to drive the 2-hours down to Wayne National Forest. The actual forest is 2 parts. One is closer to Athens, Ohio and the other is closer to Ironton (almost to the border of Ohio and West Virginia). We were hiking in the portion closer to Ironton.

Loretta is all ready for her hike!

Loretta is all ready for her hike!

The Backpacking:

Once we go there, we got ourselves all situated, made sure Loretta had some water and starting on the trail. After 1 mile in, the trail split off from the Lakeshore Trail to the Backpacking trail. We started up the hill and continued on the Backpacking trail. That's when we noticed the streams we were supposed to use to filter our water were all dried up. And we had only brought 3 liters with us.....for two people and a dog. 

All smiles at the start!

All smiles at the start!

After another 6 miles, the trail came back upon the Lakeshore trail and we had to make a decision....should we continue on the backpacking trail (another 10 miles total), or make our way back to the car? Because I am a nervous nelly (and because we had a dog with us that would need more water than we were carrying), we decided to take the Lakeshore trail back to the car and find a spot to camp for the evening.


Once we made that decision, we got lost a few times (the signage was not the best) and had no idea how far we had hiked, to begin with, or how much longer we had to go. After another hour, we finally came to a sign showing the parking lot was another 1.5 miles. Success! Around 5:30 pm we ended up back to our car. We backpacked 12 miles in 5.5 hours and I had significant blisters on my feet, Loretta was thirsty and Amber realized she could do something she didn't know she had in her. 

We found a campsite within the Forest, set up camp, drank some whiskey and went to bed. In the morning, we headed home!

Lessons Learned/Surprises

  • Amber mentioned this: "I think the coolest thing about backpacking is you really don’t have a choice once you start. Quitting isn’t an option because how could you? In other sports, you can walk off the court or the field, but with hiking and backpacking, the only way to quit is to get back to where you started."
  • We needed to plan the route better and also be more realistic about how far we could go as first-time backpackers. 16 miles is probably a bit of a stretch....maybe start with 12 miles total.
  • Make sure the streams you need to use to filter water are flowing when you go. If it hasn't rained in a few days, plan on bringing most of your water with you.
  • Amber was backpacking with a day pack and it was pretty heavy. If you are a first-time backpacker, or just getting into it, consider finding an inexpensive backpack from a resale site, or wait until REI is having a big sale....that's when I bought my backpack.
  • I ended up with significant blisters along the back of my feet (around 8 in total). I have hiked this long before with the same shoes, but never with weight on my back. I am assuming this was the cause of the blisters, along with my feet swelling, causing my shoes to become too small. 

Have you been to Wayne National Forest? What's YOUR favorite hike? Have you ever overcome a challenge? Comments below and let's discuss!
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Because Adventure Travel Feeds the Soul,

Amy K and the Hashtag 59 Team

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