Will Haught be brought to naught?

My Haught Run campsite.

My Haught Run campsite.

The answer to that question is, “Most likely.”

Haught Run Campground on the Little Muskingum River isn’t the worst I ever stayed at. The Lane Farm Campground downstream might have earned that distinction, but I opted not to camp there.

At the latter, I clawed my way up a 25-foot bluff to the campground. Getting there was half the “fun.” Camping there would have been absolute hell. It was right off a busy state highway and strewn with litter and broken beer bottles.

In lieu of staying at the Lane Farm Campground, I paddled across the river, dragged my canoe and gear up an equally steep bank and dragged it 100 yards through the dense brush. My gut feeling about the campground proved right. As I finished my supper, a few pickup truck loads of people pulled into he campground. The sound of glass breaking was followed by gunshots. Nothing sinister, just a few harmless potshots.

I laid low and spied on them through the zoom lens of my camera. I took a few pictures of them and their vehicles just in case. None of the rounds came my way so I did nothing to alert them to my presence. Who knows what they would have done if they’d known I was there? Especially after they had a few more beers in them. They didn’t hang around long and I spent a quiet evening stealth camping on U.S. Forest Service land. Low-impact camping, of course. No fire, no trace, leaving it cleaner than I found it.

Enough about Lane Farm. As for Haught Run Campground, the U.S. Forest Service closed the campground soon after I stayed there. The riverbank was eroding and the campsites gradually washing away. It was only a question of time before a tent full of people would have ended up in the river.

Recently, the Forest Service announced a proposal to decommission the campground and asked for public input. I felt compelled to put in my two-cents worth.

Here, in italics, are a few passages from my input:

On my trip in April 2014, I spent two nights at Haught Run Campground because of heavy rain in the immediate forecast. Being retired, I was in no hurry to get to my destination — the Lafayette Park landing in Marietta. So I spent two nights there to wait out the rain.

River access at Haught Run Campground

River access at Haught Run Campground

River access was difficult because of the steep, exposed bank.

I’d have to give the campground mixed reviews. The ground was level, which helps for finding a suitable tent spot. The park was relatively clean except for overflowing trash receptacles. My only neighbors were a hunter using Haught Run as a base camp and assorted couples who came and went in lieu of paying for a motel room. During my stay, several parties of day hikers passed through. All were well-behaved and polite.

The campground is not without redeeming features.

The campground is not without redeeming features.

The wildflowers, especially along the hillside, were stunning, robins and other songbirds provided pleasant company. I enjoyed visiting the covered bridge and reading the historical plaques.

Unfortunately, there was an industrial installation across the river and upstream of the campground. I took it to be some sort of natural gas facility, a compression station perhaps. The noise coming from it made it difficult to get a good night’s sleep. That alone made it an unattractive campsite. If I were to canoe through there again, I would bypass Haught Run Campground and find a spot downstream beyond the noise.

My prediction? The forest service will decommission the campground. The alternative would be to put riprap along the bank and excavate a low-impact canoe/kayak access. But that would be costly.

In my input to the U.S. Forest Service, I suggested that they take a cue from Lake  Metroparks and establish paddle-in campsites in remote spots along the river. It would be wonderful if that suggestion didn’t go for naught.

The Rinard Covered Bridge – part of the charm of Haught Run Campground.

The Rinard Covered Bridge – part of the charm of Haught Run Campground.