One of our first camping trips when we were just getting back into camping was at Shawnee State Park. It will forever be memorable for Ted insisting there was a wild boar outside the tent (pretty sure it was a dog) and camping next to a “crazy birder” who tramped through the woods looking for wrens (we now would be right with her).
With all of our camping throughout the year in state and national lands, it is not unusual for me to check for a reservation on recreation.gov and panic until I realize it is actually on reserveamerica.com. Or vise versa. This happened on our way into Maine. So when I attempted to retrieve this weekend’s site number at a new location and got “No Current Reservations” I didn’t immediately panic. When I checked the other site, I began to worry. I combed my email, my credit card – nothing. We were hoping to camp in two days during a gorgeous October weekend and I didn’t have camping reservations! Panic started to set in.
So I scanned the map for available spots this weekend and jumped on Shawnee State Park. Maybe it was fate, but I had recently found the trail map in my car and remembered some nice hiking. It would be fun to go back and check it out with a few years of camping experience and our trailer.
The campground is actually relatively small with only 110 sites nestled between Turkey Creek and the hillside. Most are reservable and have electricity. Sites 1-33 are in a more open area near the playground and cabins. The other sites are located in a wooded and steeply hilly area.
We had reserved site #63 because this was near where we had been previously and I remembered loving the steep drop to the creek bed below. Our 21 ft camper (hitch to tire) really stretched the capacity of this site, so longer rigs should choose carefully. We saw some who backed their rear tires to the end of the pad, requiring 5 foot extensions of their rear stabilizing jacks! The site was also one of the less level we have ever been in, requiring the usage of our Andersen Rapid Jack instead of just the levelers. And it was a rather steep climb from the fire pit back to the trailer! But we loved the trees, nonetheless.
This site also overlooks the group camp and we were unfortunate enough to have a group of Boy Scouts below us. They were as well-behaved as 30 pre-teens can be, but it did disrupt the seclusion of the the spot. Likewise, SR125 runs close to the campground and is pretty heavily traveled until late into the night.
A word of warning: the map indicates a playground behind sites 69-71. To us, this seemed like a pumphouse of some sort. I guess it could be fun, but there is even a fence around it. I would not stay in sites 69-74 for that reason. I would say sites 75-85 would be the premium sites, with those creekside featuring lovely firepits and picnic tables along the creek.
We didn’t spend much time in the bathhouses, but there are showers and I remember thinking they were nice. In general, the campground seems to have a lot of amenities including mini-golf, an elaborate playground and boat rentals. It would certainly be a great destination for families.
Finally, it must be said that this region featured some of the worst cell service we have experienced in a while. Heading south from the campground on SR125, we had to travel about 4 miles to get a signal, but going northwest on our way home, we were nearly to West Union before we got service with Verizon.
We came to Shawnee because we remembered such a great hike on the Shawnee Forest Day Hike Trail. But we so enjoyed a lazy Saturday morning that it was after 1pm before we started hiking, so we opted for the 5 mile Park Loop Trail instead. On Sunday morning, despite a light drizzle, we did a quick walk of the Turkey Creek nature trail as well.