24 Free Ohio Boondocking Camping Areas Including Maps

Free Ohio boondocking locations has very few free campsites that don’t involve a parking lot. Where it lacks in quantity, though, it makes up for it in quality. Located primarily on the state’s eastern and southern coasts, these campgrounds provide access to the great outdoors within 2-4 hours of Cleveland, Toledo, Dayton, and Cincinnati.

Jump directly to the 24 Free Ohio Boondocking Camping Areas

Free Ohio Camping Sites in the State Forests

A trio of campsites worth visiting can be found in the Harrison State Forest and Fernwood State Forest in the state’s east-central region. Because of its serene environment, Hidden Hollow Campground in Fernwood SF consistently receives 4-5 star ratings, and with over 20 free paved sites, something is nearly always available.

Harrison State Forest has two campgrounds, both of which are located in beautiful settings. The Ronsheim Campground, which has seven campsites, is located beside a small dam and pond. Trailriders Campground features 20 sites set up for horse campers or families. All sites are first-come, first-served, and self-registration is available. The sites are paved, but they are located in a mountainous location. There are 20 miles of hiking/bridle trails accessible from both campgrounds. Enjoy Ohio hiking.

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Best Boondocking and Hiking Trails in Ohio

24 Free Ohio Boondocking Camping Areas

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1. Richwood Lake Park

Richwood, Ohio
GPS: 40.43036, -83.29928
Elevation: 942′

Management: Public – City Park (Official)

5 or 6 free Ohio boondocking sites around the lake in a small town. Fire rin and picnic table, Portable toilets in the park. Lots of geese and the lake is muddy but there is a swimming beach.

2. I75 Rest Area

Wapakoneta, Ohio
GPS: 40.597324, -84.15782

Management: Public – Rest Area (Unofficial)

You may stay a couple of hours at i75 rest area. Free Ohio boondocking locations in Beautiful rest area with about a half mile walking trail in grassy area with tons of trees. Obviously, bathrooms, vending machines, leash your dogs, stay one night… North and south bound, though, I only waved at the southbound one across the interstate.

3. Woodbury Wildlife Area

Coshocton, Ohio
GPS: 40.283945, -82.027384
Elevation: 896′

Management: Public – Fish and Wildlife Service (Unofficial)

Off route 60 south of Warsaw OH. This is just a hole in the woods, free Ohio camping spots with an outhouse and a water pump up the road but it’s free! Woodbury wildlife area is open Hunting season. A PASS or PERMIT is required at this campsite.

4. Mohican State Park – Park and Pack Campsite 8

Loudonville, Ohio
GPS: 40.61642, -82.28503
Elevation: 1217′

Management: Public – State Forest (Official)

Tent campsite about 1/2 mile from parking area. Ohio boondocking locations.

5. Harrison State Forest

Cadiz, Ohio
GPS: 40.331566, -80.989868
Elevation: 1213′

Management: Public – State Forest (Official)

The road in is Paved. There are 16-29 campsites at this location. Great area for Ohio hiking. You might have a park ranger or wildlife officer stop by the camp to chat but don’t expect to see them very often. Small/medium sized rvs can fit – not sure exactly how long the paved spots are though. I camp here in my van or a tent.

6. Harrison County SF – Trailriders CG

85250 Camp Road
Cadiz, Ohio
GPS: 40.338924, -81.024887
Elevation: 1014′

Management: Public – State Park

Nice free Ohio boondocking with Pit toilets..15 sites in one area…only had people in them…other area had horses in it..trail riders..I’ll go back there…Quiet and nice area

7. Hidden Hollow Campground

11 Twp Rd 181
Bloomingdale, Ohio
GPS: 40.334339, -80.764242
Elevation: 1175′

Management: Public – State Forest (Official)

The road in is Paved. Hidden Hollow Campground is open Year round. There are 16-29 free Ohio boondocking locations at this area. You may stay 14 days at Hidden Hollow Campground. Hidden Hollow Campground, with 22 family campsites, is equipped with picnic tables, fire rings, and VAULT toilets. Campers must self-register.

8. Big Bend Trailhead (hike in)

1337 Merriman Rd.
Akron, Ohio
GPS: 41.12775, -81.53961
Elevation: 787′

Management: Public – County Park (Official)

Free Ohio camping spots in Summit Metro Park: Primitive site Campers must sign in and out at the small kiosk. Fires are not permitted. Only one-night stays are allowed.

9. Conaway Run Lake WMA


Conaway Run Road
Alma, West Virginia
GPS: 39.424089, -80.851057
Elevation: 797′

Management: Public – Fish and Wildlife Service (Official)

The road in is Paved. Free Ohio RV parking in Conaway Run Lake WMA is open all year. There are 6-15 campsites at this location. A PASS or PERMIT is required at this campsite.

10. Kinderhook Horse Trail

County Road 25
Newport, Ohio
GPS: 39.405989, -81.224947
Elevation: 627′

Management: Public (Official)

The road in is Gravel and .25 miles from a paved road. Ohio hiking on Kinderhook Horse Trail is open April 15 to December 15. There are 6-15 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is unlimited. You may stay 14 days at Kinderhook Horse Trail.

11. Dorr OHV Trailhead Camping – Wayne National Forest

Logan, Ohio
GPS: 39.482675, -82.292444
Elevation: 869′

Management: Public – Forest Service (Official)

Dorr OHV Trailhead Camping – Wayne National Forest is open year round. You may stay 14 days in Free Ohio Boondocking at Dorr OHV Trailhead Camping – Wayne National Forest.

12. New Straitsville Trailhead

13700 US Highway 33
New Straitsville, Ohio
GPS: 39.57203, -82.24453
Elevation: 991′

Management: Public – Forest Service (Official)

The road in is Paved. Free Ohio Boondocking Locations in New Straitsville Trailhead is open April 15 – December 15. There are 1-5 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is unlimited. You may stay 14 days at New Straitsville Trailhead.

Boondocking Locations in Other North East States

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18 Free Indiana Boondocking Camp Sites Along With Maps
32 Free Kentucky Boondocking Camping Grounds Plus Maps
64 Free Michigan Boondocking Locations Including Maps
77 Amazing New York Boondocking Campsites And Maps
47 Top Pennsylvania Boondocking Areas With Maps
47 Best Virginia Boondocking Sites Also Maps
19 Top West Virginia Boondocking Camp Sites And Maps
31 Favorite Wisconsin Boondocking Spots Plus Maps

13. Stone Church Trailhead

Shawnee, Ohio
GPS: 39.608373, -82.248085
Elevation: 755′

Management: Public – Forest Service (Official)

The road in is Gravel. A large gravel parking lot for the Stone Church Trailhead in Free Ohio Camping Spots in Wayne National Forest. This spot is listed on the Forrest Service website as a dispersed campsite. There are a couple shaded, secluded spots for tent camping and you could probably park a small RV in the lot.

14. Wildcat Hollow

Glouster, Ohio
GPS: 39.57285, -82.032809
Elevation: 733′

Management: Public – Forest Service (Official)

There are 6-15 Free Ohio RV Parking spots at this location. Lots of campsites near trail head for this backpacking trail.

15. AEP ReCreation Lands – Bicentennial – Campground K

Township Highway 2
Cumberland, Ohio
GPS: 39.774015, -81.64498
Elevation: 873′

Management: Private – Utility Company

Ohio Hiking at One of AEP’s ReCreational Lands. A recreational User’s permit required to camp here. A PASS or PERMIT is required at this campsite.

16. AEP Equine Campground

Weaver’s Haul Road
McConnelsville, Ohio
GPS: 39.714846, -81.762464
Elevation: 883′

Management: Private – Utility Company (Official)

Free Ohio Boondocking at One of AEP’s ReCreational Lands. A recreational User’s permit required to camp here. An Equine Trail Area has been established in partnership with the Morgan County Chapter of The Ohio Horsemen’s Council. Forty miles of trails have been developed, and a parking lot has been established at the trail head. A PASS or PERMIT is required at this campsite.

17. AEP Miner’s Memorial Park – Campground F

CR 78
McConnelsville, Ohio
GPS: 39.698635, -81.730959

Management: Private – Utility Company (Official)

Free Ohio Boondocking at One of AEP’s ReCreational Lands. A recreational User’s permit required to camp here.

18. AEP Maple Grove – Campground G

McConnelsville, Ohio
GPS: 39.706572, -81.725125

Management: Private – Utility Company (Official)

Free Ohio Boondocking Locations on One of AEP’s Recreational Lands. A recreational User’s permit required to camp here.

19. AEP Wood Grove – Campground H

Wood Grove Camp Site
McConnelsville, Ohio
GPS: 39.720554, -81.671337
Elevation: 758′

Management: Private – Utility Company

Free Ohio Camping Spots in AEP Wood Grove – Campground H is open all year. One of AEP’s ReCreational Lands. A recreational User’s permit required to camp here.

20. AEP Recreation lands – One of AEP’s ReCreational Lands.

Cumberland, Ohio
GPS: 39.73201, -81.72163
Elevation: 856′

Management: Private – Utility Company

Free Ohio RV Parking in Beautiful woodlands with water and outhouse facilities. fishing ponds and trails. permit required but, free at local bait stores. Just north of McConnellsville, Ohio

21. AEP Recreation Lands Sand Hollow – Campground C

The price is Free permit from SEP website.
Horse Run Road
Cumberland, Ohio
GPS: 39.734675, -81.731667
Elevation: 863′

Management: Private – Utility Company (Official)

One of AEP’s ReCreational Lands. A recreational User’s permit required to camp here and Ohio hiking.

22. AEP ReCreation Lands – Bicentennial – Campground K

Township Highway 2
Cumberland, Ohio
GPS: 39.774015, -81.64498
Elevation: 873′

Management: Private – Utility Company

Lots of Free Ohio Boondocking near trail head for this backpacking trail. One of AEP’s ReCreational Lands. A recreational User’s permit required to camp here.

23. Luke Chute

Waterford, Ohio
GPS: 39.53804, -81.72007
Elevation: 656′

Management: Public – ODNR dept. of Watercraft (Official)

Free Ohio Boondocking Locations at Luke Chute is open year round. You may stay 14 days at Luke Chute. Along the Muskingum River, 5 miles from Waterford, OH ( on the river L, Beverly, OH is on river R)is Lock#5 aka Luke Chute. It is the only Lock & Dam on “The Musky”, that allows camping for people who are not doing overnight “boat thru” camping. A PASS or PERMIT is required at this campsite.

24.  Wildcat Hollow

Glouster, Ohio
GPS: 39.57285, -82.032809
Elevation: 733′

Management: Public – Forest Service (Official)

There are 6-15 Free Ohio Camping Spots at this location. Lots of campsites near trail head for this backpacking trail.

Free Ohio Camping Sites on AEP ReCreation Land

A collection of campgrounds near the Wilds, only 90 minutes east of Columbus, serves as the starting point. This is the largest and most diverse outdoor leisure site in Ohio, located on American Electric Power “AEP” ReCreation Land. Hunting, fishing, camping, boating, hiking, biking, and equestrian riding are all available for free. Although all camping is rudimentary, vault toilets and hand water pumps are frequently available. Jesse Owens State Park is home to two of the park’s six campgrounds. All are free, although the free Ohio boondocking places ask you to fill out and display a permit throughout your stay.

Renrock Road (Hwy 83), which runs south from Cumberland, winds through the center of ReCreation Land. The first one you’ll see is Bicentennial Campground “K.” The campground is located on a lengthy loop adjacent to a tiny fishing lake, along a gravel road on the left. There are campgrounds both near the lake and further back in the woods.

Continue on Hwy 83 to the Windy Hill Park “E” on the right (worth a stop for the views), then turn left onto Woodgrove Road to the Woodgrove Campground “H.” A circle road winds its way around a large grassy area and back to an area with long-term campers.

Sawmill Road, less than a mile down Highway 83 on the left, leads to Sawmill Campground “D.” On the outskirts of the woods, this campground features a caretaker, covered bridge, and a variety of grass, gravel, and dirt sites.

Hook Lake Campground “A” is further 2 miles along Highway 83. It contains a huge day-use park with a playground, pavilion, and picnic tables surrounding a small fishing lake. There are various camping spots here, one of which runs above and behind the pavilion through the woods. The other is a gravel drive that leads beyond the lake and appears to be popular with bow hunters and other sportsmen. The third area is adjacent to the day-use area and backs up to the entry road’s second lake.

Continue on Hwy 83 for about 2 miles to the intersection with Hwy 284, then turn right to Jesse Owens State Park and its two camping areas. On the right, you’ll see Maple Grove Campground “G.” The Sand Hollow Campground “C” turnoff is two miles along Highway 284. The route through the campground continues until it reaches Highway 78. There are a number of campsites available, both along the lake and up in the woods. The AEP permit is not required for these two campgrounds; instead, self-registration at the information kiosk is required.

There is one sight that must be seen before leaving this area. Miners’ Memorial Park, located about 0.5 miles from Highways 83 and 284 on Highway 78, features Big Muskie, an emblem of America’s industrial age. The shovel, which can accommodate two diesel pushers, is on display with interpretative signage and stairs to get up up and personal with this behemoth when the engine is out of commission.

Free Ohio Boondocking Locations in State Parks

State parks aren’t typically thought of as places to get free camping, but Adams Lake State Park, located in the state’s far south, is just over an hour east of Cincinnati. It is first-come, first-served, with fire rings, picnic tables, vault toilets, and water accessible. There are 10 primitive sites, 5 grass sites for tent camping, and 5 pull-thru campsites for Ohio RV parking.

Muskingum River State Park is one of the most distinctive state parks in the country. It’s a 100-mile-long linear park that runs through southern Ohio before emptying into the Ohio River at Marietta. There are 11 locks and dams along the river, which are the only hand-operated locks of their kind in the country. Boaters can camp at most of the locks while in transit. RVs are welcome to utilize the reservable and fee-based campground at Lock #11. Free primitive camping is available at the Luke Chute Lock & Dam #5. Check in with the lock operator and choose a parking spot or a spot on the grass.

Free Ohio Camping Sites in Wayne National Forest

Wayne National Forest, which covers about 250,000 acres, contains nine constructed campgrounds and 300 miles of Ohio hiking trails for hikers, mountain bikers, horses, and off-highway vehicles. During the riding season, which runs from April to December, free camping is available at the trailheads of several of these trails throughout the three units (Marietta, Athens, and Ironton).

There are over a dozen of these “distributed” camping places scattered around the Forest, with even more if you’re a hearty backpacker. Backcountry camping is permitted along the majority of the Forest’s paths, including the North Country Trail.

The features of the trailhead camping spots are as follows:

Marietta Unit

The Kinderhook Path System, located approximately north of Newport in Wayne National Forest, is the newest trail. There is plenty of Ohio RV parking at the trailhead for trailers and RVs with a 12-mile picturesque multi-use route.

Athens Unit

The Monday Creek OHV Trail System is made up of eight trails, each with its own trailhead and campground. Make sure to look over the system’s handy forest service map.

The Wildcat Hollow Trail is a day-use hiking trail with two loops, one 17 miles long and the other 5 miles long. At the trailhead, you can camp for free. This map gives you an excellent overview of the area. This trail leads to the Monroe Overlook hike, which offers panoramic views of the surrounding area.

The Old Stone Church Trailhead is located just down the road from the Old Stone Church Campground, which is more developed. The campground caters to horse trail riders on the Stone Church Trail System’s 20+ kilometers. Both locations are open to RVs, however the trailhead section is free during the riding season.

Ironton Unit

The Hanging Rock Trail System offers 26 miles of Ohio hiking trails in the southern area of this region. At the trailhead, primitive camping is permitted.

The Pine Creek Trail System, with 20 miles of multi-use trails, is 15 miles north of the Hanging Rock system. Camping is permitted at three trailheads: Lyra, Telegraph, and Wolcott. These two systems are depicted in detail on this forest service map.

Timbre Ridge Lake, not a trail system, but a small scenic lake, is our final visit. Overnight camping is free in the parking lot. The 100-acre lake and surrounding area, which has a boat dock and vault toilets, is ideal for fishing (small electric motors only), animal viewing, and hiking.

Boondocking Sites in Ohio

Hook Lake Campground

Hook Lake Campground is located near McConnelsville on the east side of Jesse Owens State Park. There is a trashcan near the main gate, and each campsite has a picnic table and a fire ring. There is a 14-day stay limit at the campground. There is an archery range, two fishing lakes, and numerous hiking paths at this state park. Ohio camping sites.

Hidden Hollow Campground

Hidden Hollow Campground is located within Fernwood State Forest and has 22 campsites. A picnic table and a fire ring are provided at these campsites near the Land Lab. This state forest in Bloomingdale is a great place to go hiking and witness how the forest regenerates itself. There are numerous fishing ponds as well.

Ronsheim Campground

At Harrison State Forest’s Ronsheim Campground, there are seven paved trailer pads. Each site has a picnic table and a fire ring, as well as vault toilets. Bring your horse and go for a ride along the 20-mile trail system. A shooting range is also available at this remote campground near Cadiz.

Summit Metro Parks

Summit Metro Parks has a campsite near the Big Bend Trail trailhead in Akron. This campground is free, but there are other campgrounds nearby that require a fee, so be sure you’re in the proper place. This spot, where you can camp for one night, does not allow fires. Ohio boondocking locations.

Woodbury Wildlife Area

You can camp in the 32 sites at Woodbury Wildlife Area near Warsaw for free for up to 14 days from September to May. You must have a valid hunting, fishing, or trapping license to stay at these sites. This is a fantastic place for nature photography, and hunting is allowed seasonally.

Zaleski State Forest

Zaleski State Forest in Athens has a lot of great Ohio camping sites. There is drinking water and vault toilets available at numerous locations around the forest. This is a lovely spot for a fall trek in the woods as the leaves change color.

Bicentennial Campground

Five Ohio camping sites are available at the Bicentennial Campground near Caldwell, where you may take advantage of a local fishing pond. However, be aware that these sites tend to fill up quickly. To camp at this location, which has fire rings, picnic tables, and potable water, you must first obtain a permission from American Electric Power.

Where to Boondock in Ohio

In Ohio, there are numerous options for free camping. People can camp, fish, hike, and enjoy other outdoor activities for free on 58,800 acres owned by American Electric Power in southeast Ohio. Many state forests in Ohio offer free camping, and some state parks also have spaces available. Ohio boondocking locations.

Consider whether you’ll need a different form of permit for your boondocking journey in Ohio while planning your trip. For example, in wildlife management areas, you may require a hunting or fishing permission, whereas on American Electric Power holdings, you will need a free permit. To avoid any complications, take care of these necessities before you arrive.

Many of the free camping spots are in rural settings. While this is a beautiful area to go stargazing, it might be difficult to camp in the dark. As a result, you should bring a powerful flashlight with extra batteries with you. You could also wish to explore solar lights, which can be recharged by the sun. Free Ohio boondocking.

While the majority of boondocking trips end nicely, you should be prepared in case of an emergency. Make sure you can tell law enforcement where you are so that they can get help to you as soon as possible in the event of a medical emergency. Bring a well-stocked first-aid kit, and consider taking a first-aid course before leaving the house. In your location, you might be able to find one for free.

While boondocking in Ohio, there are so many incredible sites to visit and create lasting memories. Camping, fishing, hiking, and a variety of other activities may all be found nearby. Some of the places are near large towns where you may eat and shop. The most enjoyable aspect will be communing with nature and generating lovely stories to tell about the wonderful times spent with family or friends.

About Ohio Dispersed Camping

Ohio camping sites, nestled between the Great Lakes and the Appalachian Mountains, provide a wealth of wonderful outdoor adventures. Beautiful Lake Erie beaches give way to caves, escarpments, and waterfalls, ensuring that if you’re looking for a great place to camp in Ohio, you’ll find it!

Campers will find tranquil beaches and natural coves full of stunning summertime fun starting in the northern part of the state, near Lake Erie. Kelley’s Island State Park, a 677-acre park near the island’s northern tip, welcomes campers all year. Kelley’s Island is an ideal alternative for camping in Ohio’s distinctive Great Lake region because of its unique natural history and geographical features.

East Harbor State Park, another camper’s paradise along Lake Erie’s shoreline, includes boating, fishing, 10 miles of hiking trails, and three boat ramps, making this amazing campground ideal for both avid outdoorsmen and family campers. Ohio hiking at its best.

Campers will find Ohio’s famous Hocking Hills area south of Lake Erie, near the West Virginia border. This location is one of the most popular for year-round camping in Ohio, with stunning cliffs and waterfalls, dense hemlock forests, and world-famous caverns. Old Man’s Cave is the most famous cave in the Hocking Hills, named after hermit Richard Rowe, who lived there for 30 years after establishing in the area around 1800. Trails run through the Old Man’s Cave area, which features a breathtaking gorge carved 150 feet into the sandstone by the streams of Old Man’s Creek.

Waterfall hikes, climbing, and paddling along the Hocking River are all available at campgrounds in the Hocking Hills and Old Man’s Cave locations. The geologically unique Hocking Hills region contains some of the state’s and country’s most spectacular natural beauties.

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