Campground Review: Shenango Recreation Area

Closing Time

We camped at Shenango Recreation Area in late September. Arriving on a Wednesday and planning on departing on Sunday, we weren’t even sure they were open when we arrived. No one was at the gate and after some fumbling around, we realized that it was the honor system until the weekend. We drove around and chose our spot (much of the park was closed and unavailable), then headed back to pay by sticking a check in an envelope and placing it in a lock box. The ranger did stop by later and check our site and the campground hosts were still there, so all was good.

Campsites
We chose sites 202 and 204 in Old Duck Loop. We wanted electricity for the A-Liner and something wooded and not on top of neighbors, and these were really our only options with what was open. We really didn’t want to be beside the restrooms, but there wasn’t much choice if we wanted the electricity. There were a few other sites, but many of the electric sites seemed close together and relatively open. In hindsight, we didn’t need the electricity and should have went for the very nice waterfront sites in Lake Loop.
These sites weren’t too bad though. Flat ground was limited and once the weekend came, traffic to the bathroom was a nuisance, but all-in-all, not bad. We had the A-Liner on one site and our friend set-up his tent on the other. We moved the picnic tables as we always do… one for food prep and the other under the screen house for eating and game playing. These were metal picnic tables, not the traditional wood ones.
Facilities
Although these are considered “modern” facilities, they were not modern. Yes, the toilets flushed and there were showers, but the restrooms were in disrepair, needing some serious maintenance and deep cleaning.
Trash service was easy. Dumpsters are placed within each camping area and are close to every site.
Convenience
I have never camped this close to civilization! The town of Hermitage and Greenville are very close. A supermarket, Wal-Mart, Lowe’s, Home Depot, Applebee’s and McDonald’s are minutes away. If you don’t want to pre-pack food, it is great. However, the traffic along Route 18 could be heard from the campsite and you aren’t secluded from the development much at all. We would have preferred to be a bit further away in a quieter, more relaxed setting.
Activities
We attempted hiking the Kidds Mill and Shenango Trails, which you can read about in other posts. We asked a ranger about hiking in the recreation area itself and he  looked at us a bit funny. He finally responded that they exist, but no one would want to use them because they aren’t maintained…because no one ever uses them.
Otherwise, we took the dog to swim in the lake in the closed camping areas, took plenty of nice bike rides and long walks. We played lots of games and just relaxed.We did see Great Blue Heron hanging out at the lake. There is a Great Blue Heron Sanctuary in Greenville. We did not go, but bird lovers would probably enjoy it.
 
How to Get There
Shenango Recreation Area is approximately 7 miles northeast of Sharon, PA, and about 21 miles east of Youngstown, Ohio. From Pittsburgh, it is a simple drive north up Interstate 79, getting off at Grove City and letting your GPS take you on some back roads through Mercer and then onto Route 18. Can also go 79 to 80 and then to Route 18.
 
Final Call?
This park is run by the Army Corp of Engineers. Another park in Pennsylvania, Lake Raystown is also run by them (stay tuned for a review…we will most likely hit it again soon). I like Raystown MUCH better and most likely will not go out of my way to return to Shenango Recreation Area for longer than a quick weekend away.  For people who go to get away from things, it was too close to civilization, the hiking was not great and the sites just not as nice as what we have found other places.
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