By Tim Donaldson
Places to Ride – Wayne
National Forest Ohio
If you are tired of riding in your back yard
or at your local riding areas, try Ohio’s Wayne
National Forest (WNF). Located in the rolling
hills of south central Ohio, the trails offer
something for every rider.
Last fall, my wife and I purchased a 2006
Kawasaki Prairie 360 4x4 and Honda Rancher AT.
Like many new ATV purchasers, or at least those
who are not familiar with the riding hot spots,
we were interested in finding the trails. Our
close friends, guiding us in the selection of
these bikes and having years of trail riding
experience, chose Wayne National Forest as our
first multi-day riding excursion. Part of that
decision not being based on the fact that WNF is
a great place to ride, but rather a good
starting point for a couple of “newbies."
Our journey began at the Monday Creek Trail
System. WNF offers three off-road vehicle (ORV)
riding areas from which riders can choose. They
include the Hanging Rock, Pine Creek, and Monday
Creek Trails Systems. Each trail system boasts
multiple trailheads and miles of trails.
Camping abound in WNF
Lifeline landing area.
Since this was our first big trip, we spent
the time traveling to our destination listening
to valuable riding advice from our friends. We
learned the meaning of hand signals used to
notify oncoming riders of the number of those
following in a group riding together - the last
member of the group holding up a clenched fist,
signaling the end of the group. Although widely
recognized, the “you’re number one” hand signal
was not advised for usage.
Once we started to ride the trails we
discovered there were a variety of challenges
with various degrees of difficulty to suit the
preferences of all the riders in our group. Each
trail at WNF is clearly marked, indicating
easiest, more difficult, and most difficult
Adjacent to many of the trails were large
hill climbs for further exploration and trial.
Of course, being very interested in these and
wanting to measure my skill against them, I
blazed up the slopes. On one occasion, my buddy
decided to follow me to assure nothing bad
happened on the way up. After successfully
reaching the top of the hill, I turned around to
find that he didn’t make the climb. So much for
Periodically, as we traversed the routes, we
would drive past noticeably large flat areas
surrounded by guard rails. Later, during a rest
break near one of these spots, I was informed
that these areas were designated as helicopter
landing sites for rescue emergencies.
Fortunately, we did not need that particular
service on the trip, but it was nice knowing
that we could have been expedited quickly, given
a serious mishap like the one my buddy almost
It had been raining most of the week before
our arrival, so the trails were very muddy, as
expected. We had a great time challenging the
power of our quads and tire traction through the
mud bogs. Being a first-time trail rider, I was
certainly amazed by the deceptiveness of an
innocent, or so seeming, mud puddle. These holes
were amazingly deep, presumably made so by
others doing the same as we were.
Deeper than it looked!
The main corridor trails were wide and
allowed easy flow of two-way traffic. Most other
trails were also accommodating to two-way
traffic. However, at times, riders would be
required to yield to other drivers by moving to
the side of the path. WNF restricts APV’s to 50”
in width or less in order to access the trails.
As with any trail system, trail conditions vary
by current weather conditions. WNF afforded
hard-packed soil for most trails with the
typical rocks, roots, tree branches, and tire or
rain washout ruts. Areas where erosion had taken
its toll were reinforced by block or stone. Just
be especially careful straddling rocks with low
undercarriages, or short ground clearances. The
rocks are not very friendly to skid plates.
With working headlights and taillights,
riders at WNF can enjoy riding anytime day or
night. Even at slow speeds, the perception of
going fast is magnified as you wind through the
All in all, riders of all skill levels will
enjoy what WNF has to offer. Given the length
and amount of trails, an entire weekend will be
needed to span the entire trail system, so get
out there this spring and enjoy it!
The WNF trails are open from April 15 to
December 15 each year. Riders must have a
current license and possess an Ohio All-Purpose
Vehicle (APV) registration. The cost for the
Ohio registration is very reasonably priced at
$8.50 and is valid for 3 years. A Forest Trail
Permit is also required to ride the trails.
Current pricing is $5 daily and $25 for a season
pass. For more information, visit