Athens Ranger District
13700 U.S. Highway 33
Nelsonville, OH 45764
Welcome to the Stone Church Horse Trail and
Campground. Named for the skeletal ruins of an old stone church
this horse trail system provides 21 miles of scenic
riding. The horse trail winds
through the rolling hills of the Wayne
National Forest. The trails will lead you through a
variety of vegetation: open fields, brushland,
mature forest, and new forest. Along the way, you
may glimpse wildlife, and will recognize the
influence of humans, both now and in the past.
You will also pass many of our land management
Water is turned off during the winter due to risk of freezing. During
the period when no water is available camping is free at this site.
- Stay on the designated trail. The trail is marked
by gray diamonds on trees or posts.
- A Forest Trail Permit is required to ride horses on any Wayne National
- Trails are open for hiking year-round, but horse use is only
allowed April 15-December 15.
- Please stay on marked trail to avoid riding on
- Several oil and gas roads cross the trail. These roads
access oil and gas wells on private land and are
not open for riding.
- The mileage of each trail segment is shown on the map.
- National Forest lands are open to public hunting.
Please be aware of the different hunting seasons
and plan your trail ride accordingly. State fishing
and hunting regulations are enforced.
- Water in ponds and streams can be used for
horses, but is unsafe for human consumption.
- Overnight camping is permitted along the trail or at the
No vegetation may be cut and all fires must be extinguished
before leaving camp.
- Be alert for ticks, snakes, and poison ivy.
The recently completed campground offers camping for horseback
riders which provides
facilities designed for horses and horse trailers.
- Eight sites are provided, each with a 45' long by 15' wide
Two sites are fully accessible for people with disabilities.
- Each site has a covered paddock, fire pit, grill, and tent pad.
Vault toilets are
- Drinking water is provided in a tank for horses and people, bring buckets or
jugs to carry water.
- The fee for camping is $10/night, collected in a self-service
- Before vacating your campsite, clean out the paddocks and put
manure in the
- The campground is closed December 15 - April 14.
The former Stone Church Trailhead is for also open for camping and
day use. This trailhead is open for camping from April 14 through
December 15. The site has a porta-john and trash cans available.
Stone Church Ruins
Near the trailhead is all that remains of a once thriving
community. The haunting arched walls of the
St. Peter's Catholic Church and almost 100 tombstones are all that
remain of a church which once stood
as the centerpiece to a community of people who lived in these
Indians and early settlers depended heavily on the nearby Salt Run
saltlicks. The people whose names are
etched on the grave stones next to the old church were among those
first settlers. They built the
church in 1845 and Dominican priests came to give the first mass
During the Civil War, the iron ore in the surrounding hills was
mined to make the cannon balls for the
Union Army. According to legend, sometime shortly after the War, a
plague struck and wiped out the
community. The church fell into disrepair and was closed. Another
version of local history maintains
that with the boom of the iron mines, so many Catholics moved into
the area that a new church was built
in nearby New Straitsville. New Straitsville's St. Augustine
Catholic Church was built in 1871, and the old
stone St. Peters Church may have been abandoned. The 128 year old
St. Augustine Church was razed in
1990, leaving the ruins of the stone church the only visible sign
of a once prosperous Catholic parish.
The stone church and cemetery are on private land. Please treat
them with the respect they deserve.
For maps and more information: