Ohio’s largest wilderness area grows at 6,898 acres

MCCONNELSVILLE, Ohio— The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife today announced the purchase of an additional 6,898 acres in the Appalachian Hills Wildlife Area in southeastern Ohio. The acquisition brings the total acreage of Ohio’s largest wilderness area to 54,525 acres of public land for hunting, fishing, trapping, birding and outdoor recreation.

Legend: The Appalachian Hills Wildlife Area has hundreds of lakes and ponds
offering excellent fishing opportunities.

“The latest addition to the Appalachian Hills Wildlife Area adds vibrant land to an area already known for its fabulous hunting and fishing,” said Wildlife Division Chief Kendra Wecker. “We are proud to expand outdoor recreation opportunities for all Ohioans and protect wildlife habitats. Thank you to the Ohio athletes who came together to promote and support this purchase.”

The Division of Wildlife’s latest acquisition in the Appalachian Hills is the final installment in a series of additions that have taken place since 2020. Funding for the cumulative purchases came from $68 million in capital improvements and wildlife funds.

Legend: The grasslands of the wildlife area are home to many birds.
including hard-to-find species like the bobolink.

“The acquisition was made possible by the support of Governor Mike DeWine and the Ohio General Assembly so that people can now enjoy this outdoor expanse in perpetuity,” said ODNR Director Mary Mertz.

The Appalachian Hills Wildlife Area is located in Guernsey, Morgan, Muskingum, and Noble counties near McConnelsville. It connects a network of habitats between Jesse Owens State Park and The Wilds, an outlet of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. Located in the unglaciated part of Ohio, the area’s terrain is varied and rugged, criss-crossed by many small streams and rolling hills. It is mainly forest land, but also has abundant grasslands and some wetlands.

More than 350 lakes and ponds dot the landscape in the Appalachian Hills, providing anglers with abundant fishing opportunities for bass, bluegill, catfish and more. Appalachian Hills is one of the best places in the state to fish for bass that qualify for Fish Ohio recognition. Thousands of acres of varied habitats have resulted in excellent whitetail deer and wild turkey hunting. Hunters can hunt for all kinds of other game in the area, which has abundant numbers of squirrels, rabbits, and furriers.

Bird watchers can find species such as long-eared owl, northern harrier, prairie warbler, bobolink, and scarlet tanager on the property. The Appalachian Hills Wildlife Area is also one of the few places in Ohio where northern shrikes can be found in the winter. Hiking enthusiasts can find great trails, including 24 miles of the 1,400-mile Buckeye Trail. This is one of the few wildlife areas that allows camping in designated locations, with nearly 300 campsites spread across six designated areas.

Those interested in visiting the Appalachian Hills Wildlife Area can find maps, species information, fishing tips, and additional resources at wildohio.gov. Download the HuntFish OH mobile app for free resources on the go.