Information on:

Lake Hope State Park

27331 State Route 278

A natural paradise, 2,983-acre Lake Hope State Park lies entirely within the 26,824-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.


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 oxen 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 pieces have 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 the 20th century.

Lake Hope Forest Park was created in 1937 by the Division of Forestry. The Division of Parks and Recreation and Lake Hope State Park came into existence in 1949.


Bill Pedroza

Wednesday, July 11, 2018
Our group stayed at various cottages and also Laurel Lodge. This is the second time we stayed at this lodge and the main large room needs to be insulated again. In the summer the room can barely hold a cool temperature. I am sure in the winter it is the reverse. The roofing needs insulation badly to help reduce the carbon footprint . As for cabin 25. why is the cleaning pale and supplies stored in front porch? One can NOT use the front porch to just relax and enjoy. Other than that, we loved this park and WILL return again.

Dustin Matheny

Friday, Aug. 3, 2018
It has went down hill the last 20 years. Used to be a great place now the beach is basically neglected. The cabins are OK but not the best in the area. Camp sites are decent but there are much bigger sites at burr oak for the same price or less.

John Davis

Saturday, May 5, 2018
Best park and best kept secret in Ohio! Love, love, love camping here!!! We rented the cabins, did a camper one year and we set up tents some years. Never had a bad camping trip here. The lake is beautiful, the cabins are perfect and if you like to mountain bike this is the place to do it! Time has a way of slowing down here and makes your trip more peaceful. Take a walk in the woods and you will forget all about the world outside. The price of this park is lower than other places but yet it is soooo much better!!! My wife and I love camping here and I wish we could do it more. Very peaceful place and fun to explore. I would give this park more than five stars if I could.

foxy farmer

Saturday, June 23, 2018
We had reservations for a campsite here for a night of our road trip. When we arrived it was raining (flooding would be more accurate!). The woman who worked in the office came in after hours to rent us a cabin and give us the key. Amazing service, and nice accomadations for a state park.

Tara Kirk

Sunday, July 8, 2018
Extremely clean and clear water for a lake. We had a great time and plan to go back next weekend

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