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Gathering Forest Products

Click here for a downloadable brochure on plant collecting and gathering forest products

Collecting forest products from the Wayne National Forest has long been a popular pastime. Remember, collecting products on private land without permission is trespassing and constitutes theft. Maps are available from Forest Service offices which show national forest ownership.

Plant Collecting



Coins and use of  metal detectors

Berries and Nuts

Rock Collecting


Old bottles, arrowheads, historic artifacts


Fruits and nuts of forest trees or plants may be collected on the Wayne National Forest. Forest products such as blackberries, raspberries, walnuts, hickory nuts, pecan, or rose hips may be collected for personal use. If you have any questions whether a particular activity requires a permit, please contact one of our offices.


One "fruit" which is often collected on the Forest are pinecones. People are welcome to collect pinecones which are often gathered by families for crafts and Christmas decorations. Pine stands are found throughout the Wayne making locating and collecting of these products easy.

Mushroomscommon morel found in forest.

Mushrooms are one of the things that make spring a favorite time of year for many Ohioans. April is usually the peak season for collecting mushrooms though they can normally be collected for a 4-6 week period.

Morels and snakeheads are some of the more popular but there are several edible varieties on the Forest. Any novice should consult books or an expert before eating any mushrooms they collect since many types look similar to mushrooms which can be toxic.

Mushrooms are the fruiting body of a fungi which grows as a complex mat layer in the top soil layers. The mushrooms we collect will naturally mature and release spores. Morels increase in size as they age and their growth depends on the moisture, temperature, and fertility of the soil.

There are no sure-fire ways to find mushrooms. They are often elusive, but generally if you've found them in an area in the past, they are likely to be there again. With mushrooms, you should enjoy the looking as much as the picking, or you'll not last longer as a mushroom hunter.

common morel

Anyone collecting and eating mushrooms should be extremely cautious and ensure the mushrooms they've gotten are safe. A few of the morels commonly found on the forest are shown here.

The common morel shown here emerges in mid-season and is the most popular and common of the morels. These may be found singularly or in small patches. Often found under elms, ash and apple trees.

black morel

The black morel is the earliest true morel to appear and is the most likely to be found in large quantities in a single place. Prefers areas with ash trees. They have a mild flavor when young, but the flavor gets stronger after they mature, at which time they're fragile and crumbly. Although dark in color, they are difficult to see on sunny days.

late morel

The late morel appears after all other species are over mature or gone. they are very small (1-3 inches) and are often overlooked. They have an excellent flavor but its difficult to find enough for a meal.

false morel

The false morel is not a true morel but looks similar. Illness and death have resulted from eating this fungus although some people can tolerate them quite well. They are found early in the season and can become very large. They are also known as red morels or elephant ears. Often found around rotted oak tree stumps.

Rocks and Prospecting for Gold 

There are several unique rocks on the Wayne National Forest. Small quantities of rocks for personal use may be collected on the Forest. These rocks may not be resold and there should be no earth disturbed in the process of collecting. 

Recreational gold prospecting is also of some interest on the Wayne. There is little known gold in Ohio and none has been found on the Wayne National Forest to our knowledge. However, the Wayne National Forest does allow the use of a gold pan and digging of a few shovels full of material here and there in a stream with no permit being required. Any proposed digging in the banks of streams, digging holes, using a sluice box or suction dredge, would require a permit. In addition, a specific location would have to be selected.

There is no season and the area is pretty much open except for special areas, research natural areas and administrative sites (camp grounds, etc.). The Ohio Department of Natural Resources – Division of Mineral Resources Management, 34 Portsmouth Street, Jackson, Ohio 45640, 740-286-6411 can provide you additional information on state requirements for gold prospecting on state and private lands in Ohio.

A flier on gold in Ohio is attached.

Old bottles and Artifacts

Much of the Wayne National Forest was once in farms and home sites. Bottles, old farm equipment, and antiquated household utensils often remain at these sites. These items are protected and may not be removed. As historians and archaeologists examine the sites, many of these items allow for them to date occupancy of the site and from these traces of the past, they can learn more about our heritage. Use of a metal detector to search for coins or other antiques and historic artifacts is prohibited. These objects are part of the cultural history of the area and are protected under federal antiquities acts. However, an exception to this rule is that coins may be collected and metal detectors may be used on beach areas in developed recreation sites. 

Arrowheads and Native American Tools

Just as much of the Forest was once settled by pioneers, in prehistory times, the area was used by Native Americans and there are still many reminders of their life here. Any artifacts such as arrowheads, spear points, pottery, and grinding stones are protected by law and collection of these items is absolutely prohibited. Any earth disturbing activities in rock shelters or other sites of prehistoric occupation or possession of these artifacts on national forest lands is punishable by fines and imprisonment.