A Trail Rich in Ohio History
The Camp Tuscazoar Foundation has assumed operations of the historic Zoar Valley Trail. This scenic 20-mile trail provides hikers with a variety of historical sites and changes in terrain from rolling hills to level paths. The trail is anchored at the southern end by the village of Schoenbrunn in New Philadelphia and on the north by Fort Laurens in Bolivar. The trail passes Zoar, with an overnight stop at Camp Tuscazoar.
Zoar Valley Trail map >
Zoar Valley Trail guide >
ZVT flood possibilities >
Zoar Valley Trail patches >
You may start your hike from either end. However, it is generally thought better to start at Schoenbrunn, covering the hard surface and hilly part of the trail in the first day. Camp Tuscazoar is the halfway point on the trail and provides both lodges and primitive camping. Several camp sites are only a short walk from the trail and can be reserved for your group by using our camping reservations page. Please make your reservations several weeks in advance to guarantee a site. The last portion of the trail travels along an abandoned railroad bed and the Ohio-Erie Canal towpath, with a short stretch on hard surface from one to the other.
The Village of Schoenbrunn was founded in 1772 as a Moravian mission for the area’s Delaware Indians. The village has been reconstructed and now appears much as it did more than 200 years ago. In this Christian settlement, Ohio’s first civil code was drawn up and the first Ohio schoolhouse was built. A museum and trading post are located near the village for your convenience. Trumpet in the Land, Ohio’s first outdoor drama, sweeps you back in history to witness the founding of Schoenbrunn.
At the corner of routes 306 and 312 sits an old cemetery. Local folklore claims that a warlock lies buried here and his is the only grave encircled by a low stone wall. According to legend, his head was cut off and placed at his feet; when the head moves back up to the top of his body, he will rise from the grave.
Dover Dam was constructed in 1936 as part of President Roosevelt’s New Deal W.P.A. program, and was one of a series of dams built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District. The dam protects thousands of acres of crop land from flooding. Dover Dam’s construction forced the relocation of the railroad; hence, two railroad beds can be seen north of the dam. Dover Dam Weekend, coordinated with the Camp Tuscazoar Foundation, is an annual event held the first weekend in May. This event includes numerous tours of Dover Dam, held all day for the camp’s visitors and the general public.
Dover Dam sits near southern boundary of Camp Tuscazoar, which was established as a Boy Scout camp in 1920. Today, the camp is maintained by the Camp Tuscazoar Foundation for the benefit of area youth. The camp consists of nearly 500 acres of heavy woods and deep ravines. The high points at either end of the camp overlooking the Tuscarawas River were Native American lookouts. The Zoarites mined iron ore here and used timber from the hills to produce charcoal for their smelting operations and for lumber. At the north end of the camp just below Pioneer Point, you will find an Indian head, arrow and locomotive on the sandstone rock face along the trail. These were created many years ago by Tuscazoar scouts.
Zoarville Station Bridge
North of Camp Tuscazoar, where the trail turns to County Road 83, stands the Zoarville Station Bridge. Also known as the Fink Truss Bridge, this bridge is the only one of its kind. Designed by Albert Fink, the bridge was originally part of the three-span bridge over the Tuscarawas River in Dover. This span was moved to its present site over One Leg Creek, now called Conotton Creek, when the bridge was replaced in 1905. Acquired by the Camp Tuscazoar Foundation in 1996, this interesting architectural treasure has become the newest camp landmark. Restoration efforts began shortly after the bridge was acquired; it was re-assembled and re-opened in 2007 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Village of Zoar was founded by German separatists in 1817 after they had, with the aid of Quakers, purchased 5,500 acres of land along the Tuscarawas River. To pay off the purchase, the Zoarites contracted with the State of Ohio to dig the portion of the Ohio-Erie Canal that passed through their land. The society disbanded in 1898, with each member receiving land, house and possessions. The village is only a short distance from the trail and makes a wonderful rest spot to have lunch and take a walking tour of the town. Near the village, beyond the old county bridge, you will find the remains of a state fish hatchery which was abandoned after repeated problems prevented a large-scale propagation of smallmouth bass.
Zoar Wetland Arboretum
Nestled between the historic Village of Zoar and the Tuscarawas River lies an 82 acre wetland owned by the Earth Action Partnership called the Zoar Wetland Arboretum. Their goal is to interpret the wetland as an Arboretum by planting, identifying and maintaining a large variety of trees, plants and flowers for public education and enjoyment. They offer tree trimming, planting, and identification workshops. A picnic shelter sits on the foundation of the original 1830’s Zoar Brewery. The shelter and patio offers a spectacular view of the wetland.
Old Route 82 Bridge
The Old Route 82 Bridge at Zoar was erected in 1883 by the Wrought Iron Bridge Company of Canton, which was later absorbed by the Pennsylvania-based American Bridge Company. It is a three-span Pratt through-truss with separate spans of 86 feet and an overall length of 265 feet. The bridge once carried a former roadway that is now closed to auto traffic. This bridge was faithfully restored in 2004 for use on the Zoar Valley Trail and now serves as a pedestrian and bicycle access point and overlook.
Between Route 800 and Fort Laurens, the Zoar Valley Trail follows the towpath of the Ohio-Erie Canal. This canal was completed in 1832 and operated until the 1913 flood destroyed major portions of it. The Separatists in Zoar brought part of the canal to their town by constructing a slackwater dam and guard lock in 1832. Canal boats could dock next to the woolen mill and other industrial buildings, which are now gone. Above Zoar are several canal locks that were used to raise and lower the canal boats as they traveled the canal. Try to imagine the labor it took to dig the canal by hand after looking at the depth of the locks.
British Col. Henry Bouquet’s 13th Encampment sat here on a bluff overlooking the trail. Nearby, the white prisoners who had been captured by the Indians during Pontiac’s Rebellion began to be released. According to Col. Bouquet’s orderly book, on October 17, 1764 “two Delaware chiefs (Custaloga and Beaver) . . . delivered 18 white prisoners and 83 small sticks, expressing the number of other prisoners which they had in their possession, and promised to bring in as soon as possible.” Col. Bouquet camped here for one week, from Monday, October 15 through Monday, October 22nd. Eventually more than two hundred prisoners were returned to Bouquet.
Fort Laurens was the westernmost Revolutionary War fort. A contingent of soldiers under the command of General Lachlan McIntosh built the fort during the winter of 1778. With the withdrawal of General McIntosh and the bulk of his troops, the fort was then garrisoned by 176 men and 5 women under the command of Colonel John Gibson. Located on the grounds are the Tomb of the Unknown Patriot and a museum.
Friends of Fort Laurens >
Generally, a water level (lake elevation) higher than 875 ft. at Dover Dam will likely cause some flooding of the trail between Bolivar and the dam. Also, a visual check of the the trail where it passes below the railroad trestle south of Zoar will be a good indicator. The Zoarville Station Bridge deck begins to flood when the water level at Dover Dam reaches 884.8 ft.
Dover Dam water depth >
A patch is available for those who complete the Zoar Valley Trail.
Patch Order Form >
For additional information, or to make arrangements to hike the trail, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Camping reservations >