CUYAHOGA VALLEY NATIONAL PARK
Excerpt from a past edition of OhioTraveler eMagazine
Mother nature carved a niche of artistry when the last ice age retreated, leaving us with Ohio’s only national park.
Native American’s pronounced its name Ka-ih-ogh-ha. It’s meaning – crooked river. An aerial view of it looks like God created a 100 mile smile in the landscape. Its headwater or origin is east of Cleveland. Its waters run south and then north emptying its mouth into Lake Erie.
Certainly this pleasant view from above can sometimes seem like heaven on Earth. So it was preserved as Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Although there are national historic sites, national historic parks and memorials in Ohio, this is the only site recognized with the status of national park, according to the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior.
The park’s valley spans 33,000 acres along a 22 mile section of the Cuyahoga River between Akron and Cleveland. It offers forests, prairies, wetlands, gorges, historic towns, canal way and a scenic railway. Hiking opportunities abound. It is a biking paradise.
The entire park system is so bike friendly you can pedal the distance along the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail. This path along the river and old canal is flat and has a hard surface making it handicap accessible as well. If you grow tired of walking, running or pedaling, you can hop the train. Pay an additional $3 to transport your bike with you. The Cuyahoga Scenic Railway has eight depots across the park and each depot has six boarding times regularly from Wednesday through Sunday from June through October. An all-day pass to hop on and off trains at will costs $18/adult and $13/child.
The heart of the park bustles around the Peninsula Depot. The historic town of Peninsula offers shops, galleries and restaurants along with historic architecture. The depot itself was originally erected in 1879. Off the beaten path are three nearby waterfalls. Brandywine Falls is the most popular. A boardwalk cuts into the cliff and parts the trees to an overlook that delivers a vista of cascading water. So beautiful is this spot, just about any wedding photographer in the region worth his salt is sure to lure bridal parties there for stunning wedding pictures.
The walkway stretches to the top of the falls where the foundation and wall of an 1814 saw mill still stands. It is one of the few remnants of the old village of Brandywine – one of the first communities to flourish in the Cuyahoga Valley. Another survivor of this lost village is the Inn at Brandywine Falls built in 1848. This luxurious property is renovated offering modern amenities like wireless Internet, but its rooms are decorated with Ohio antiques.
Other areas of the park system are not as easy as accessing trailheads near the Towpath but are gems just the same. One that should not be missed is simply known as the Ledges. The Ledges are just that – ledges of rock. Walk through the woods and you come to a ravine. The lookout point reveals a wooded valley with towering oak and hickory trees as far as the eyes can see. It takes little imagination to walk a mile in someone else’s moccasins at this point. But walk you will. A grand stone staircase descends to the bottom of the ledges where the real fun begins. Hikers will need to navigate boulders, slip between enormous cracks in the stone walls that jut up the cliff straight into the surrounding tree line. Mixed into the peculiar rock outcrops are hemlock and wildflowers. Don’t miss Ice Box Cave. How far can you go into it without a flashlight is the question.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park includes a matrix of hiking trails, including part of the statewide Buckeye Trail. Other highlights include plenty of fishing and picnicking areas, bridle trails and Shady Oaks Farm bed and breakfast where you can stable your horses. Ranger guided tours are available too. If you enjoy golfing, there are four public golf courses to choose from. Complete details about Cuyahoga Valley National Park, including maps and visitor information, are atwww.nps.gov/cuva. You may also contact the park by calling (800) 445-9667 or (800) 257-9477.
Admission to Alum Creek State Park is free.
Alum Creek State Park: Alum Creek’s large reservoir and gently rolling span of fields and woodlands provides a hub of recreational activity just minutes from Ohio’s capital city. Quiet coves nestled among shale cliffs await the solitary fisherman in the park’s northern reaches while sunseekers mingle with thousands on Ohio’s largest inland beach. Alum Creek’s 289 family campsites offer both wooded and sunny areas, some of which overlook the lake. This well-designed electrified campground has a beach and a boat ramp for exclusive use of the overnight guests. Three full-service campsites offer sewer and water hookups as well. Heated shower facilities are located throughout the facility. Hikers and horsepeople enjoy the rugged northern reaches of the park. Over forty miles of trail wind along the lakeshore through mature beech-maple forests and across deep ravines. Printout Alum Creek State Park.
Admission to A.W. Marion State Park is Free
A.W. Marion State Park: The rolling woodlands and quiet waters of A.W. Marion State Park offer visitors a welcome escape from the rigors of everyday life. This small but unique park offers a variety of recreational activities while maintaining a quiet atmosphere of natural serenity. A wooded camp area with 58 sites offers tent and trailer camping from late March through early November. Twenty-nine sites have electricity. Hargus Lake provides 145 acres of water, boat launching ramps and public docks. Rentals are available from the concession on the northwest side of the lake. Electric motors only are permitted. The Hargus Lake Trail offers five miles of scenic pleasure, providing access to the entire shoreline of the lake. Beginning at the campground, the Squawroot Nature Trail offers the hiking enthusiast one mile of scenic terrain. The trail is self-guided with directional signs and takes visitors to fourteen points of interest. These scenic trails are open for year-round use.
Admission to Beaver Creek State Park is free.
Beaver Creek State Park, in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, is one of Ohio’s most scenic parks. The park includes Little Beaver Creek, a state and national wild and scenic river, and acres of forest wilderness. The rich history of the area invites visitors to explore Gaston’s Mill, pioneer village and abandoned canal locks. The campground is scenically located high above Little Beaver Creek and offers large shaded sites. The 53 non-electric sites have tables, fire rings, pit latrines and a dump station. Pet camping is permitted on designated sites. Two Rent-A-Tepee units come equipped with a cooler, storage containers, sleeping pads, and lantern. A group camp area can accommodate organized groups up to 125 people. A horseman’s camp offers primitive camping with water, latrines and tie-ups. Little Beaver Creek offers one of the most enjoyable canoe trips in the state of Ohio. Swift currents and breathtaking scenery are highlights of a trip through the Little Beaver Creek gorge. The creek is navigable by canoe or rubber raft only. Hikers will find several beautiful waterfalls by exploring the many tributary streams. A short trail from the campground to Oak Tree Point gives an excellent panorama of the scenic valley. Approximately sixteen miles of hiking trails take the visitor to historic canal locks and through a steep walled gorge. Hikers will find several beautiful waterfalls by exploring the many tributary streams. A short trail from the campground to Oak Tree Point gives an excellent panorama of the scenic valley.
Admission to Blue Rock State Park is free.
- Park Office Hours 8-5 M-F / Camp Store Hours vary during Spring/Summer
- Location: (Map It) 7924 Cutler Lake Road, Blue Rock, Ohio
- Phone: Park Office 740-674-4794
- Web: http://parks.ohiodnr.gov/bluerock
Blue Rock State Park offers a quiet family oriented campground with 3 Camper Cabins, 3 Rent-A-Tents, and 97 campsites. There are two locations to camp near the 15 acre lake. The backdrop for Blue Rock consists of rugged hills and rich green forests. We offer basketball, volleyball court, hiking trails, horse shoe pit, and a beach. We have boat rentals at the camp store, for a fee. For reservations call 1-866-644-6727, or call park office for more information.
Admission to Burr Oak State Park is free.
Burr Oak State Park: Located in southeast Ohio, quiet and remote Burr Oak State Park has a rustic country charm in its scenery of wooded hills and valley farms. As one of Ohio’s resort parks, Burr Oak offers a wide array of overnight accommodations with its lodge, cottages and campground. Burr Oak blends modern conveniences with the wilderness spirit of Ohio. Burr Oak Lodge, overlooking the lake from the east, offers sixty guest rooms, five meeting rooms, a dining room, full-service lounge and gift shop. Facilities for lodge and cottage guests include a swimming beach, tennis courts and an indoor swimming pool. There are 30 family cottages with air conditioning and cable TV situated near the lodge in the wooded hills overlooking the lake. Each cottage sleeps six and has a bath, with shower, living room, complete kitchen, dining area and screened porch. Linens, towels and cooking and eating utensils are furnished. There are 100 non-electric campsites to accommodate campers in the campground. Thirteen primitive sites are offered at Dock #2 and eight primitive sites at Dock #3. A public swimming beach offers enjoyment for swimmers and sunbathers. A bathhouse, showers, changing booths and a snack bar are provided. Twenty-eight miles of hiking trails, including a portion of the Buckeye Trail, take hikers to scenic vistas and unique rock outcroppings. Backpackers will find the Burr Oak Backpack Trail challenging and enjoyable. This eighteen-mile loop trail winds around the lake shore and offers primitive campsites and water at several locations along the route.
Admission to Caesar Creek State Park is free.
Caesar Creek State Park is highlighted by clear blue waters, scattered woodlands, meadows and steep ravines. The park offers some of the finest outdoor recreation in southwest Ohio including boating, hiking, camping and fishing. The family campground has 285 shady and sunny sites equipped with electrical hook-ups. The campground offers showers, flush toilets, and pet camping in designated areas. A horseman’s camp with 30 sites is available for overnight trail rides. The park’s Rent-A-RV program offers one fully-equipped travel trailer for daily or weekly stays. Two camper cabins and one cedar cabin are also available for rental. Water recreation on the 2,830-acre lake is the park’s largest attraction. Unlimited horsepower designation allows for an exciting day of boating and water skiing. Five launch ramps are situated around the lake for easy access. Forty-three miles of hiking trails lead hikers to the interesting areas of the park with many scenic views along the way. For horsemen, thirty-one miles of trail and a horsemen’s camp are offered. A five-mile mountain bike trail is located between Harveysburg Road and Center Road; a 3.5-mile novice trail circles the Fifty Springs picnic area. The park’s nature center houses interesting displays of the cultural and natural history of the area. Naturalist programs are offered year round. The pioneer village features 15 historic buildings depicting life in the early 1800s.
Admission to Cleveland Lakefront State Park is free.
- Open daily dawn to dusk
- Location: (Map It) On the Lake Erie shore in downtown Cleveland, Ohio
- Phone: 216-881-8141
- Web: Click here
Cleveland Lakefront State Park: In the heart of one of Ohio’s largest cities, Cleveland Lakefront State Park provides natural relief to the metropolitan skyline. Sand beaches, tree-lined picnic areas and panoramic views of the lake are found within the park along the Lake Erie shoreline. Six separate recreation areas provide some of the finest recreation available. Sand beaches are scattered along the main shoreline. Coastal plants such as sand cherry, beach grass, beach pea and others are rare in this urban environment.
Admission to Crane Creek State Park is free.
Crane Creek State Park: Located on the scenic shore of Lake Erie, Crane Creek State Park offers a vast freshwater marsh and spacious sandy beach for enjoyment. This coastal environment is home to more than 300 species of birds. Herons, waterfowl, warblers, gulls and the magnificent bald eagle make this park one of the best birdwatching areas in the country. A spacious 3,500-foot, sandy beach graces the shore of Lake Erie. Latrines and changing booths are provided. A one-half-mile boardwalk trail provides access to the many different habitats in the park. The wheelchair accessible boardwalk skirts several small ponds, winds through woodlots and borders open marshlands. Birdwatchers delight in the numerous avian species sighted along the trail.
Admission to Deer Creek State Park is free.
Deer Creek State Park: Located in the heart of Ohio’s agricultural country, Deer Creek State Park is central Ohio’s vacation showplace. A collage of meadows and woodlands surround the scenic reservoir. This resort park features a modern lodge, cottages, campground, golf course, swimming beach and boating for outdoor enthusiasts. The lodge at Deer Creek has 110 guest rooms, many with a panoramic view of the lake. Lodge features include indoor and outdoor pools, sauna, whirlpool and exercise room. A restaurant, lounge and meeting rooms provide additional accommodations. Twenty-five cottages offer overnight accommodations. The cottages have two bedrooms, bath with a shower, living room with a sofa bed, complete kitchen, dining area and screened porch. The cottages sleep six people. The historic Harding Cabin offers a unique lakeside setting and sleeps 7-9. The campground at Deer Creek has 227 electric sites. The campground features showers, flush toilets and a dump station. Five Rent-A-Camp units consisting of a tent, dining fly, cooler, cook stove and other equipment can be rented during the summer months by reservation. Unlimited horsepower boating is permitted on the 1,277-acre Deer Creek reservoir. Two launch ramps provide access to the lake. A fully equipped marina offers fuel, boat rental and seasonal dock rentals. Nine miles of hiking trails take the visitor through meadows and scattered woodlands. Fourteen miles of bridle trails can accommodate riders with their own horses. A fitness trail near the lodge offers an opportunity for exercise in a wooded setting.
Admission to Dillon State Park is free.
Dillon State Park: The wooded hills and scenic valleys of the Dillon area offer a picturesque setting for outdoor adventure. Whether boating the quiet coves and inlets of the lake or hiking the forest trails, Ohio’s rural hill country provides an outstanding recreational experience at Dillon State Park. There are 29 family cottages nestled in the woods overlooking the north lakeshore. Each cottage has air conditioning, color cable television, gas heat, two bedrooms, bath, living room with sofa bed, all-electric kitchen, dining area and screened porch. One cottage is fully accessible. Linens, towels and kitchen utensils are furnished. There are 195 campsites for tents or trailers. The non-electric sites are walk-in only offering excellent primitive camping. The campground is equipped with flush toilets, showers and a dump station. A commissary with grocery items and laundromat is located near the check-in station. An excellent 1,360-foot swimming beach is located near the park office. Facilities include a bath house, showers, and a wading pool for children. A game area is adjacent to the beach offering volleyball and a playground area as well as lighted courts for tennis and basketball. Three boat ramps are provided for access to the lake. A boat concession offers boat/motor rental, fuel, fishing and boating supplies, and snacks. Visitors who enjoy nature study will find that Dillon’s trails are pathways to discovery with several miles of trails that leads the hiker to varied habitats of the park.
Admission to East Fork State Park is free.
East Fork State Park: One of Ohio’s largest state parks, East Fork offers a great diversity of recreational opportunities and natural history only 25 miles from Cincinnati. The park’s terrain includes both rugged hills and open meadows, setting the stage for a wonderful getaway. A 1,200-foot swimming beach features change boots with showers, restrooms and a vending area. East Fork has one of the largest camping areas in the state with 399 sites, all of which have electrical hookups. Seven full-service sites also have sewer and water hookups. The campground offers showers, flush toilets, drinking water, a camper’s beach, and boat ramp. Spacious Cedar Cabins with all the amenities of a fully-equipped RV are available for daily or weekly rental. Four camper cabins may also be rented spring through fall. For the hiker and backpacker, the Backpack Trail traverses approximately 10 miles of scenic park areas, offering a 20-mile round trip. In addition, the 32-mile Steven Newman Worldwalker Perimeter Trail circles the park and is available for hikers, backpackers, and horsemen. Four primitive campsites are located along these trails. Permits for their use are available through the park office. For those less adventuresome, shorter trails are easily accessible. A 5-mile mountain bike trail begins just west of the park entrance on S.R. 125. Those who enjoy water sports will find East Fork Lake very accommodating. There are 2,160 acres of water and unlimited horsepower boating with access available at six launch ramps.
Admission to East Harbor State Park is free.
East Harbor State Park: Located on the shores of Lake Erie, East Harbor State Park has unlimited opportunities for outdoor recreation. Boating, fishing, swimming, picnicking and camping are popular while nature enthusiasts will enjoy the abundance of waterfowl, shorebirds and other species of wildlife found in the park’s scenic wetlands. The campground at East Harbor is the largest in the Ohio State Park system with 365 electric sites and 205 non-electric sites. The campground is equipped with showers, flush toilets, dump station, launch ramp and camp store. Two Rent-A-RV units on full-service sites are available for weekly rental only. Two deluxe camper cabins are also available for rent. East Harbor’s 7-mile trail system leads through the many different habitats within the park. Thousands of visitors come to East Harbor’s 1,500-foot sand beach. Volleyball, basketball and horseshoe courts, along with playground equipment, are located in the campground or day use area. Bike rental is available from the camp office.
Admission to Findley State Park is free.
Findley State Park: Once a state forest, Findley State Park is heavily wooded with stately pines and various hardwoods. The scenic hiking trails allow nature lovers to view spectacular wildflowers and observe wildlife. The fields, forests and quiet waters offer a peaceful refuge for visitors. Findley’s campground offers 272 non-electric sites in both sunny and shaded areas. The campground features showers, flush toilets, laundry facilities, dump station, game room and a fully stocked camp store. Two “Conestoga” camper cabins are under construction and should be available to rent during the summer of 2006. A recreation area with sand volleyball, a basketball court and two horseshoe pits are also available for camper use. Approximately ten miles of hiking trails, including a portion of the statewide Buckeye Trail, allow nature lovers to explore various habitats. Mountain biking is permitted on all trails, weather permitting. A scenic loop trail through diverse habitats starts and ends at the camp check-in building. Boating with electric motors only is permitted on the 93-acre lake. Two launch ramps provide access to the lake. Canoes, rowboats, and paddleboats can be rented at the marina.
Admission to Forked Run State Park is free.
Forked Run State Park: Forested hills, a picturesque lake and the lazy Ohio River characterize Forked Run State Park. Located in the heart of Appalachia, colorful history, riverboats, scenic vistas and abundant wildlife give the park its rural charm. The main campground is situated on the ridges overlooking the scenic valley of Forked Run Lake. This nicely shaded campground offers 80 campsites with 50-amp electric sites along with 71 non-electric sites. Two Rent-A-Camp units consisting of a tent, dining fly, cooler, cookstove and other equipment can be rented during summer months by reservation. Three camper cabins are available for nightly rental. The park features a disc golf course as well as a miniature golf course. Volleyball, horseshoes and tetherball can be enjoyed in day use areas of the park.
Admission to Headlands Beach State Park is free.
- Open daily dawn to dusk
- Location: (Map It) On State Route 44, just west of Fairport Harbor, Ohio
- Phone: 216-881-8141
- Web: Click here
Headlands Beach State Park: The trademark of Headlands Beach State Park is its mile-long natural sand beach, the largest in the state. In addition to its popularity during the summer season with picnickers and swimmers, the area is home to many plant species typically found only along the Atlantic Coast. As the largest natural sand beach in Ohio, Headlands offers recreation for swimmers and sunbathers. Change booths, concession areas and restrooms are provided. Hiking trails are available in the adjacent state nature preserve. A children’s playground is available in the picnic area. The sand beach is ideal for beach volleyball games. A federal breakwall is located at the east end of the park offering fishing opportunities for smallmouth, largemouth and rock bass, yellow perch, bluegill, walleye, coho salmon and carp. In addition, crappie, steelhead trout, sucker, catfish and bullhead are common catches.
Admission to Geneva State Park is free.
Geneva State Park: Located on Ohio’s northeastern shoreline, Geneva State Park reflects the character and charisma of Lake Erie. The shimmering expanse of the lake lures vacationers who enjoy fishing and boating. Swimmers rejoice in the beautiful sand beach while nature enthusiasts retreat to the park’s freshwater marshes and estuaries associated with the lake. The Lodge and Conference Center at Geneva is Ohio’s ninth state park resort lodge. The lodge was constructed and is managed through a unique state/local partnership with Ashtabula County. In addition to beautiful views of Lake Erie, the lodge offers 109 guest rooms, a full-service restaurant, and conference facilities. A full facility campground with electricity, showers and flush toilets offers shaded and sunny campsites. Deluxe Cedar Cabins on the Lake Erie lakefront sleep four adults or a family of six. Each cabin features a kitchen, private bathroom with shower, furnished dining and living area, A/C and a screened porch and deck. Cookware, dishes, and bed, bath and kitchen linens are provided. Cabin guests also have access to an enclosed picnic pavilion for outdoor gatherings. Lake Erie provides unlimited opportunities for boaters with a six-lane boat ramp providing easy access. The marina features a canteen and concession area which supplies gasoline, boating essentials and bait, along with 383 docks for rental. A 300-foot guarded swimming beach adorns the shoreline of Lake Erie. The east breakwall of the marina is capped with a sidewalk providing park visitors with a scenic panorama of the Lake Erie shoreline.
Admission to Grand Lake St. Marys State Park is free.
- Open daily dawn to dusk
- Location: (Map It) On State Route 703 just west of St. Marys, Ohio
- Phone: 419-394-3611
- Web: Click here
Grand Lake St. Marys State Park: Originally constructed as a feeder reservoir for the Miami-Erie Canal, Grand Lake St. Marys was for many years recognized as the largest man-made reservoir in the world. This large lake is the gateway to swimming, boating, camping and fishing in one of Ohio’s oldest state parks. The campground contains 210 sites of which 142 are equipped with electricity. Facilities include flush toilets, laundry, showers and a dump station. The campground also offers a “camper’s only” swimming beach, boat launch and boat docks/tie-ups. Two air-conditioned Camper Cabins and two Rent-A-Tepees with camping gear may be rented from May-October. Two spacious Cedar Cabins with all the amenities of a fully-equipped RV are also available for daily or weekly rental. A seasonal naturalist holds scheduled programs Thursday through Saturday night. Boats with no limits on horsepower are permitted on the lake. Five state operated launch ramps provide access to the lake. Several private launch ramps also exist along the shallow shoreline. Fuel, boat rentals and seasonal dock rentals are available.
Admission to Great Seal State Park is free.
Great Seal State Park is dedicated to the wilderness spirit of Ohio. The history of the Shawnee nation and Ohio’s early statehood is centered in these rugged hills. Challenging trails take visitors to scenic vistas of distant ridgetops and the Scioto Valley below. These very hills are depicted on the Great Seal of the State of Ohio, from which the park gets its name. Twenty-two miles of trails are available to hikers, mountain bikers, and horsemen. The terrain varies from steep to gently rolling. It is advised that horses and hikers be well conditioned for these trails. Volleyball, basketball and horseshoe courts are located in day-use areas of the park. Playground equipment is also available for youngsters. An 18-basket disc golf course is located at the Ireland picnic area.
Admission to Hocking Hills State Park is free.
- Open daily dawn to dusk
- Location: (Map It) On State Route 664, just west of Logan, Ohio
- Phone: 740-385-6842
- Web: Click here
Summer │ Fall │ Winter │ Spring │ Artisans
Hocking Hills State Parks: This is probably the purest and most beautiful natural landscape in Ohio. In fact, unless you’ve been there, you wouldn’t believe that such a breathtaking place could be found in Ohio. Hocking Hills, located in southeastern Ohio, features extraordinarily picturesque caves, waterfalls, forest, gorges, abundant wildlife, rock outcrops and elevated views. The featured attractions are as follows:
- Old Man’s Cave: Most people talk of Hocking Hills and Old Man’s Cave synonymously. It is a long stretch of valley that basically has it all. From the rocky cavernous terrain along Old Man’s Cave to streams, cliffs, undercut rock, waterfall and plant life.
- Ash Cave: This is an enormous cave-like ridge with an impressive view from the bottom or top – both of which are assessable. It is very high and very wide. People walking along the bottom inner-rim look like ants as you hike toward them along the beautiful gorge. And on a good day, it has water flowing from the cave’s peak to a pond floor at the bottom.
- Rock House: No, no music here. Instead, it is basically a cave/cliff with natural window views through the rock. Inside, you may feel like this is a house that could have been used on The Flintstones. It has a spectacular view of the greenery and valley resting far below.
- Cedar Falls: This is a great place to relax and enjoy the rhythm of the pounding water. It has moss-covered cliffs and plenty of natural beauty surrounding the area.
- Cantwell Cliffs: A bit more remote to reach compared to other Hocking Hill’s highlights, Cantwell Cliffs is worth it. It’s plush forestry, deep valley and narrow passageway along the valley floor will certainly be appreciated by all.
- Conkles Hollow: This area has hiking trails high along the cliffs or along the gorge floor. In any case, it is amidst a refreshing wilderness that seems untouched.
Hocking Hills provides a variety of recreational opportunities in a splendid natural setting. Towering cliffs, waterfalls and deep hemlock-shaded gorges lure the hiker and naturalist and serve as a backdrop to popular facilities and accommodations. The natural history of this region is as fascinating as the caves are beautiful. Forty gas-heated, air-conditioned, family housekeeping cottages sleep up to six persons. Each cottage has two bedrooms (one with two twin beds; one with a double bed), bath with a shower, living room with a trundle sofa, gas-burning fireplace, microwave, complete kitchen, dining area and screened porch. The dining lodge contains a restaurant, meeting rooms, TV lounge, game room, snack bar and an outside swimming pool. There are miles of trail located throughout the park and adjacent state forest. These trails are beautiful as well as potentially dangerous: caution and common sense are advised. Young children should be closely supervised while in these areas. All park visitors must remain on the trails at all times.
Admission to Hueston Woods State Park is free.
Hueston Woods State Park, located in Butler and Preble counties, is nearly 3,000 acres of natural resources for outdoor recreation, such as hiking, fishing, canoeing, and – unique to this region — fossil hunting. The park surrounds Acton Lake, with campsites, cabins, and a resort lodge to entice the overnight visitor. Within the park is Hueston Woods State Nature Preserve and National Natural Landmark — 200 acres of old-growth forest, with stately beech and sugar maple trees, an abundance of ferns, and wildflowers. The park offers over 40 miles of trails for your outdoor pleasure. The American Discovery Trail also passes through the park. The park has an 18-hole, 7,005-yard, par 72 golf course, as well as driving ranges that are open from March until November. On the grounds at Hueston Woods is a full paintball field and target range. You may bring your own equipment, and rent or buy it here. On tranquil Acton Lake, boating is restricted to 10-hp motors, with convenient launch ramps and public docks. The best fishing includes largemouth bass, crappie, channel catfish, and bluegill. A fishing pier on the west shore is wheelchair accessible. The 1,500-foot swimming beach with concession stand and bathhouse is open to the public. Other facilities include a volleyball court, horseshoes, miniature golf, playground and basketball court. At the Nature Center, you can attend various nature programs. Of course, the park is also a great place for a picnic at nine areas complete with tables and grills.
Admission to Indian Lake State Park is free.
Indian Lake State Park offers a diversity of water-related recreational opportunities. Boating, fishing, skiing and camping are highlights of this multi-use park. There are 441 family campsites suitable for tents or trailers on the northwest section of the lakeshore. The scenic campground offers electric hookups for most sites, heated showerhouses, flush toilets, laundry facility and camp commissary. A beach, boat ramp and boat docks are provided for exclusive camper use. Twenty boat camping spaces are also available. Three Deluxe Camper Cabins furnished with convertible futon bunks and sofa, microwave, refrigerator and outdoor gas grill may be reserved. These sites do not accommodate tents. One Rent-A-RV travel trailer equipped with a queen size bed and two twin beds is available. Other amenities include A/C, refrigerator, gas stove, microwave, TV/VCR and coffeemaker. The 5,800-acre lake offers unlimited horsepower boating and features four boat ramps and boat docks for rental. Skiing is popular in the open zone area. Indian Lake is the only inland lake in Ohio with lighted buoys for night navigation. The Cherokee Trail, a 3-mile easy walk through brushy habitat, is located west of the camp. The Pew Island Trail, a 1-mile path, encircles Pew Island. Access is available to Pew Island from a causeway. This trail affords a spectacular view of Indian Lake. A paved bikeway is located on the West Bank between Old Field Beach and Lakeview Harbor. The bikeway is 3 miles long. Walkers and joggers are welcome to use the bikeway.
Admission to John Bryan State Park is free.
John Bryan State Park is the most scenic state park in western Ohio. The park contains a remarkable limestone gorge cut by the Little Miami River which is designated as a state and national scenic river. A portion of the gorge itself is designated as a national natural landmark. The Little Miami River provides excellent stream fishing opportunities for anglers. Smallmouth bass, rock bass and panfish are in abundance. Nature lovers can enjoy any of the nine different trails found in the park. Trails follow the scenic river gorge and meander through majestic woodlands. Mountain bikes are permitted on 6.5 miles of multi-use trails. Portions of many trails are wheelchair accessible with assistance to some degree.
Admission to Lake Hope State Park is free.
Lake Hope State Park: A natural paradise, Lake Hope State Park lies entirely within the 26,824-acre Zaleski State Forest in the valley of Big Sandy Run. It is a rugged, heavily forested region traversed by steep gorges and narrow ridges. Remnants of abandoned mining and iron producing industries amid the beautiful scenery provide interest and pleasure for hikers, photographers, nature lovers and historians alike at one of Ohio’s most historic and scenic state parks. A fine swimming beach is located near the dam. Facilities include a beach house with sun deck, restrooms, and a concession building where food and beverages can be purchased. Lake Hope offers Wildlife, Iron Furnace, and Forest cottages for overnight visitors year round. All cottages have linens, towels and complete kitchens with microwave ovens, heat, air conditioning, and outdoor grills and fire rings. The Iron Furnace and Forest cottages are finished in native hardwood and have wood burning fireplaces. Groups may reserve Laurel Lodge, a rustic structure with a beautiful stone fireplace, which sleeps 22 persons, provides kitchen facilities and is open year round. A beautiful 219-site campground is suitable for tents or trailers. The campground includes heated shower houses, pit latrines, waste disposal, laundry facilities, picnic tables and fire rings. Forty-six sites have electric hookups. Three Rent-A-Camp units consisting of a tent, dining fly, cooler, cook stove and other equipment, and one camper-cabin along with one Rent-A-Tepee can be rented during the summer months.
Admission to Malabar Farm State Park is free.
Malabar Farm State Park in Pleasant Valley was the dream of the Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Louis Bromfield. Today, visitors can see the house and farm existing just as they did in Bromfield’s time. The outbuildings and pastures still house chickens, goats and beef cattle. The hills are ribboned with strips of corn, wheat, oats and hay while the scenic trails are adorned with nature’s bounty. Malabar Farm reflects the agricultural tradition of Ohio while focusing on Louis Bromfield’s life and philosophies. The 32-room Big House, designed by Bromfield and architect Louis Lamoreux, is a blend of Western Reserve architectural styles and was built to appear as if it had been added onto over the years. Tours of the mansion, preserved just as Louis left it in 1956, are offered year-round. Wagon tours of the farm are offered May through October. During the growing season, Malabar Farm offers educational tours of its vegetable garden. There is a nominal fee for house and wagon tours. Contact the park for hours and fees. There are twelve miles of trail for the hiker or horseperson to enjoy. Trails traverse scenic fields and forests. A fifteen-site horseman’s camp offers primitive camping for horse-people as well as family campers. Fire rings, picnic tables, drinking water and latrines are offered.
Admission to Mary Jane Thurston State Park is free.
- Open daily dawn to dusk
- Location: (Map It) On State Route 65, west of Grand Rapids, Ohio
- Phone: 419-832-7662
- Web: Click here
Mary Jane Thurston State Park: Situated along the historic Maumee River, Mary Jane Thurston State Park offers a variety of day-use and overnight activities. The Maumee is not only scenic, but also provides some of the best stream fishing in Ohio. Boaters have access to the river while history buffs may explore the remnants of the old canal. A small campground offers 35 non-electric sites. Fifteen of these sites are designated for walk-in tent camping. Picnic tables and fire rings are provided. Latrines and restrooms are located nearby. Additional walk-in sites are available in the North Turkeyfoot Area. Permits can be obtained at the park office. Two deluxe camper cabins are available to rent. A one-mile portion of the Buckeye Trail passes through the park following the side cut canal. The trail continues on to the Village of Grand Rapids. A one-mile loop trail winds through the floodplain forest while an easy half-mile trail circles the day use area. Six miles of trails in the North Turkeyfoot Area may be used for backpacking, horseback riding or mountain biking. Campers can enjoy summer nature programs at the amphitheater. Horseshoe pits also provide recreation for campers. Playgrounds are offered at both the campground and the day-use areas of the park. The day-use lodge is handicapped accessible and open year round.
Admission to Maumee Bay State Park is free.
- Open daily dawn to dusk
- Location: (Map It) On North Curtice Road, north of State Route 2 and east of Oregon, Ohio
- Phone: 419-836-7758
- Web: Click here
Maumee Bay State Park offers not only the finest of recreational facilities in the Midwest, but also a unique natural environment created by the convergence of the land and Lake Erie. The lodge, cottages and golf course are nestled among meadows, woods and marshes teeming with wildlife. The balance of recreation with the natural world gives visitors a diverse experience in a coastal environment. The Quilter Lodge, Ohio’s eighth state park lodge, opened in May of 1991, overlooks the Maumee Bay of Lake Erie and offers 120 guest rooms. The lodge features racquetball courts, game room, saunas, whirlpools, indoor and outdoor pools, conference and meeting rooms, dining room and lounge and snack bar. The deluxe cottages are equipped with gas fireplace, heat and A/C, equipped kitchen, living area, two bedrooms with a loft, or four bedrooms. The park boasts a modern family campground with 252 sites equipped with showerhouses, flush toilets and electricity. The campsites are open and spacious and border natural meadows and ponds which are open to fishing for campers only. Three Rent-A-Camp units consisting of a tent, dining fly, cooler, cook stove and other equipment can be rented during the summer. Rent-A-Yurt offers a microwave, stove and refrigerator, along with futon beds. Several miles of hiking trails in the park wind through meadows and young woodlands, with some paved combination trails for bicycling and cross-country skiing. A 2-mile boardwalk traversing swamp and marsh wetlands has interpretive signs, an observation blind and tower and wheelchair accessible loop.
Admission to Mohican State Park is free.
Mohican State Park and the adjacent state forest are outstanding in their beauty and offer limitless opportunities for visitors to explore one of Ohio’s most unique regions. The Clearfork Gorge, hemlock forest and Mohican River offer a wilderness experience while the resort lodge and cottages provide luxurious accommodations. The lodge at Mohican offers 96 secluded air-conditioned rooms with resort accommodations. The lodge is equipped with banquet rooms for large groups, a dining room, sauna, gift shop, lounge and olympic-size indoor and outdoor pools. Twenty-five two-bedroom cottages accommodate 6 people and are located in a wooded area along the river. The heated cottages contain cooking utensils, towels, bed linens and blankets. The campground offers 120 electric campsites, fire rings and picnic tables. Full service hookups are available at 33 campsites. The main campground is equipped with showers, flush toilets, dump station and camp commissary. Twelve walk-in campsites are close to campground amenities. The Hemlock Grove campground offers 24 non-electric sites, pit latrines, tables and fire rings. Two Camper Cabins, equipped with bunk and double beds, a mini-refrigerator and fan, can be rented during the summer. Over 13 miles of trails take the visitor to the more interesting areas of the park and forest such as Lyons Falls, the Clear Fork Gorge, the scenic wooden bridge and beautiful views of Pleasant Hill lake. Mohican State Park offers an 8.5-mile mountain bike trail that also passes through Mohican State Forest. The scenic terrain is varied, offering something for riders of all skill levels.
Admission to Mt. Gilead State Park is free.
Mt. Gilead State Park is a quiet, small park centrally located in the state of Ohio. Picnicking, fishing and hiking can be enjoyed year-round at this beautiful location. A family campground, offering 59 sites with electrical hookups, is set in a scenic pine forest and is open all year for camping enjoyment. Two deluxe Camper Cabins are available during the summer season on a reservation basis. Mt. Gilead allows boating with canoes, rowboats and boats with electric motors only. A launch ramp is provided. canoes and paddleboats are available for rent. Six and a half miles of trails, including a two-mile multipurpose trail for hikers and horseback riders, traverse Mt. Gilead State Park. Trails provides opportunities for exercise, nature study and wildlife observation. Boat rental is available and a double volleyball court, horseshoe pits and playground may be enjoyed by visitors in day-use areas of the park. The 200-seat amphitheater may be rented for a variety of outdoor functions. The picturesque gazebo may also be rented for special occasions.
Admission to Muskingum River Parkway is free.
Muskingum River Parkway: Camping area is located at Lock #11. There are 20 campsites off State Route 60 and County Road 49 in Muskingum County. Pay phones, latrines, water, picnic tables and fire rings are provided in the camping areas. Enjoy fishing along the Muskingum River, but not on lock walls. A valid Ohio fishing license is required.
Admission to Muskingum River State Park is free.
Muskingum River State Park and its 160-year-old navigation system were designated a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers in July 2001. Along with such majestic institutions as The Empire State Building and the Golden Gate Bridge, the Muskingum River’s 10 hand-operated locks are now recognized as one of America’s great engineering accomplishments. In its day, the system of locks and dams that extends 112 miles through southeastern Ohio, helped open the Midwest to development. Today, it serves more than 7,000 boaters each year who come to fish, picnic and play in the scenic Muskingum Valley. A camping area is provided at Lock 11. There are 20 campsites off State Route 60 and County Road 49 in Muskingum County. Water, picnic tables, fire rings and latrines are provided. There are eight boaters-only, primitive campsites at Lock #5, Luke Chute. Prior to departing for a boat trip on the Muskingum River, boaters should contact the park office to check on river and lock conditions. Boats with unlimited horsepower motors, house boats, pontoon boats, canoes and rowboats travel the river. Public launch ramps are provided at Locks 4, 5, 6 and 11. Private ramps are located near Locks 2, 7 and 10. The Muskingum River is navigable from Dresden to Marietta. Some of the tributaries emptying into the Muskingum River are also navigable for short distances providing excellent fishing. The Licking River, which joins the Muskingum River in Zanesville, is navigable only by canoe or rowboat.
Admission to Nelson Kennedy Ledges State Park is free.
- Open daily dawn to dusk
- Location: (Map It) On State Route 282, north of Garrettsville, Ohio
- Phone: 440-564-2279
- Web: Click here
Nelson Kennedy Ledges State Park: Although a small park, Nelson-Kennedy Ledges provides a thrilling experience to visitors with its rugged cliffs and diverse plant life typical of a more northern climate. A day-use park, Nelson-Kennedy Ledges is popular for picnicking and hiking. Hikers will enjoy the several trails that wander through the Nelson Ledges to formations like Devil’s Icebox, Indian Pass and Old Maid’s Kitchen. All visitors are urged to exercise caution while hiking and are advised to restrict their travel to established trails only. Park rules prohibit off-trail hiking and beverage containers on hiking trails.
Admission to Punderson State Park is free.
Punderson State Park with its natural lake, resort manor house, family cottages, golf course and scenic campground, provides myriad recreational opportunities for visitors. Punderson is also Ohio’s premier winter sports park. Sledding, snowmobiling and cross-country skiing are all at their best providing cold weather thrills for its visitors. Overnight accommodations are available in the manor house. Thirty-one guest rooms provide a warm, intimate atmosphere. The manor house features a dining room, meeting rooms and outdoor and indoor swimming pools. Twenty-six cottages sleep six persons each. They have two bedrooms, bath with a shower, living room, complete kitchen, dining area and screened porch. Situated on the site of a former Indian village, the 196-site campground offers showerhouses, flush toilets, electricity and pet camping. Five full hookup sites also include water and sewer service. A championship, 18-hole public golf course challenges even the expert golfer. Reservations are always advisable and required for weekend play. The pro shop stocks all necessary merchandise and has a snack bar. Fourteen miles of trails take the hiker to some of the more interesting and scenic areas of the park. The winter sports chalet is a unique heated facility that is available for daily rental spring through fall. The campground offers a nature center. Boat rentals are offered at the marina. Visitors can find volleyball and basketball courts, horseshoes and shuffleboard at the lodge. A tennis court is located at the chalet. Playgrounds, volleyball and basketball courts are also located in day-use areas.
Admission to Salt Fork State Park is free.
Salt Fork State Park: The landscape of rural Guernsey County appears as a patchwork of forested hills, open meadows and misty valleys threaded by numerous streams. At the heart of this region is Salt Fork State Park, encompassing the woodlands and fields flanking Salt Fork Reservoir. As Ohio’s largest state park, Salt Fork boasts recreational facilities to suit nearly every taste. The Salt Fork Lodge, overlooking the lake, features 148 guest rooms, dining room, coffee shop, snack bar, gift shop, lounge and lobby areas, indoor game area and meeting facilities for up to 450 people. Guests can also enjoy indoor and outdoor swimming pools, sauna, tennis, volleyball, basketball, and shuffleboard courts, a 400-foot swimming beach, as well as boat launching and docking facilities. Thirty-seven two-bedroom cottages offer fully furnished living and dining areas, kitchen equipped with cooking and eating utensils, bath with shower, and screened porch. Seventeen chalet cottages also feature gas log fireplaces and hot tubs. All cottages are available year-round. The modern campground has 192 sites with electricity. Each site has a 50-amp electric hookup. Twenty full-service campsites offer sewer and water hookups as well. Other features include heated shower houses, flush toilets, dump station, a separate beach, boat launching and docking facilities for campers. Eighteen sites are wheelchair accessible. A miniature golf course is offered at the beach, near the park’s nature center. Basketball courts are located at the beach and near the park office. Playgrounds are offered in the campground and at the beach.
Admission to Shawnee State Park is free.
Shawnee State Park: Located in the Appalachian foothills near the banks of the Ohio River, Shawnee State Park is nestled in the 63,000-acre Shawnee State Forest. Once the hunting grounds of the Shawnee Indians, the region is one of the most picturesque in the state, featuring erosion-carved valleys and wooded hills. The rugged beauty of the area has earned it the nickname, “The Little Smokies.” The resort lodge at Shawnee offers a breathtaking view of the surrounding hill country. The lodge features fifty guest rooms, elegant dining room, meeting rooms, indoor and outdoor pools, game room, sauna, jacuzzi, tennis, basketball and shuffleboard courts. There are 25 family cottages at Shawnee. They sleep up to six, with two bedrooms, bath with a shower, living room, double-wide rollaway bed, complete kitchen, microwave, telephone, dining area, screened porch and charcoal grill. Two premium cottages also offer jacuzzis. The family campground at Shawnee has 103 sites suitable for tents or trailers. The campground features electric hookups, waste disposal, heated shower houses, flush toilets and laundry facilities. Two Rent-A-Camps and two Rent-A-Tepee units with basic camping gear may be reserved. The park and surrounding state forest invite hikers to discover the plant and animal life of Shawnee’s forested hills. The 60-mile Shawnee backpack trail operated by the Division of Forestry takes hikers to some of the best wilderness areas in Ohio. The forest also offers 75 miles of bridle trails. There are several nature trails in the park, from one to two miles in length.
Admission to South Bass Island State Park is free.
- Open daily dawn to dusk
- Location: (Map It) In Lake Erie, on South Bass Island, off Port Clinton, Ohio shore
- Web: Click here
South Bass Island State Park: Limestone cliffs, historic wineries, crystal caverns and a shimmering Great Lake greet visitors to the Lake Erie Islands state parks. These state parks offer unique island retreats with an atmosphere both festive and casual. Fishing, boating and swimming can be enjoyed at each park. The family campground at South Bass Island State Park features 125 non-electric sites, and 10 full service sites with electric, water and sewer hook-ups. The campground offers flush toilets, showers, and a dump station. A youth group camp is available by reservation for organized groups. Four cabents, combining the best features of a cabin and tent, and the Rustic Cabin are available for weekly rental from Memorial Day to the last weekend in September. Two picnic shelters, picnic areas, launch ramp, fishing pier and small stone beach area are also available. South Bass Island is accessible by ferry from Port Clinton or Catawba Island.
Admission to Tinkers Creek State Park is free.
- Open daily dawn to dusk
- Location: (Map It) On Aurora-Hudson Road, north of Interstate 480 at Streetsboro, Ohio
- Phone: 440-564-2279
- Web: Click here
Tinkers Creek State Park: The swamps and marshlands of Tinker’s Creek State Park harbor a variety of natural wonders. Herons, ducks, geese and beaver can be found in the spring-fed waters, while cattail, buttonbush and swamp white oak line the shores of this beautiful park. The spring-fed lake offers anglers catches of bass, bluegill, crappie, perch and catfish. Bluegills and bass are also found in the two ponds located along Pond Run Trail. Three hiking trails are ideal for jogging, nature study or cross-country skiing. Volleyball and horseshoes can be enjoyed at the park and a playground is available for younger visitors.
Admission to West Branch State Park is free.
- Open daily dawn to dusk
- Location: (Map It) On State Route 5, east of Ravenna, Ohio
- Phone: 330-296-3239
- Web: Click here
West Branch State Park’s large lake with its many forks and coves is extremely popular with fishermen, boaters and swimmers. The park’s meadows and woodlots provide an excellent backdrop for camping, hiking and horseback riding. The park’s 700-foot sand beach includes a showerhouse, change booth and snack bar. A boat swimming area is located in Silver Creek Bay, southwest of the beach. The newly renovated family campground offers 29 full service sites, 155 sites with 50-amp electric hook-ups, and 14 non-electric sites. The campground also features heated showers, flush toilets, laundry facilities and a trailer dump station. Some lakeside sites offer boating access. A group camp is available for organizations of up to 50 people. More than twelve miles of hiking trails provide access to the natural world. A portion of the state’s Buckeye Trail passes through the park and is linked to the campground by a two-mile spur trail. The park offers extensive snowmobile trails when conditions permit. Trail starts at the west boat ramp. Mountain biking is permitted on trails in the snowmobile area. After leaving the parking area and riding up to cable line road there are 6 loops (some connected, some not) that provide approximately 8 miles of single and double-track. Twenty miles of bridle trails traverse woodlands and meadows. Riders must provide their own horses. A horse camp is open by permit only.
Adams County Ohio Parks and Recreation: Hunters, birdwatchers, hikers, boaters, and fishermen alike will enjoy the incredible abundance of wild areas in the outdoors of Adams County natural resources. With the Ohio River bordering the southern section of Adams County and large sections of the county encompassing rich natural areas like Shawnee State Forest, several Ohio State Nature Preserves and Ohio State Parks, it is easy to see why a wide array of visitors seek out the county for their travel adventure. Whether it is hiking the rolling hills in fall, golfing on a spring day or boating the smooth waters of the Ohio River on a hot, summer day, there is something wild and exciting for all in the great outdoors of Adams County.
Admission to Wolf Run State Park is free.
- Open daily dawn to dusk
- Location: (Map It) On State Route 215, north of Caldwell, Ohio
- Phone: 740-732-5035
- Web: Click here
Wolf Run State Park: The rugged hills of southeastern Ohio provide the setting for Wolf Run State Park. The scenic woodlands and cool, clean waters of the park offer visitors a quiet retreat in this remote area of the state. A family campground with 71 electric and 67 non-electric sites is located on the south shore of the lake. Showers and laundry facilities are provided. A walk-in group area with fire rings is available for use by organized youth groups on a reservation basis. A 20-site primitive fly-in camping area is located on the north side of the lake. The area is within walking distance of the 4,700-foot runway at the Noble County Airport. Picnic tables, fire rings and latrines are provided. Boats with motors of up to 10 horsepower are permitted on Wolf Run Lake. A launching ramp and tie-ups are available on the south side of the lake, easily accessible from State Route 215. A 3-mile section of the Buckeye Trail passes along the west side of the lake. A half-mile loop trail begins at the nature center providing opportunities for nature study and wildlife observation. The 1.5-mile Lakeview Trail skirts the lake, providing a pleasant walk from the campground to the beach.
Admission to Van Buren State Park is free.
Van Buren State Park offers a quiet retreat with fishing and picnicking opportunities. The woodlands are a small but valued refuge in the rich agricultural land of northwestern Ohio. Van Buren offers a multi-use campground at the east end of the park with 38 non-electric campsites for general camping as well as horseman’s camping. Good fishing is available at Van Buren Lake. Catches of largemouth bass, channel catfish, crappie, bullhead, bluegill and carp await the skilled angler. Hiking trails circle the lake. Hikers, horseback riders, and mountain bikers are welcome on 6 miles of multiple-use trails traversing steep ravines and gentler terrain in scenic woodlands. Volleyball courts and horseshoe pits are available for use at the picnic areas. The park’s nature center is located near the family campground.
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