There is a national or state park just a short drive away, regardless of where you live in Ohio. From the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains to the shores of the Lake Erie, Ohio parks are popular playgrounds for outdoor lovers young and old. Forests, waterfalls, ravines, rolling hills, lakes, rivers, and beaches offer plenty of opportunity for recreation, from hiking and biking to golfing, kayaking, fishing and bird watching. There are campgrounds of all kinds for those who want to stay longer, as well as marinas and boat launches for heading out to the lakes. Naturally, there are plenty of fish for catching your own dinner.
1.Beaver Creek State Park
A 2,722-acre Beaver Creek State Park is located in Columbiana County, Ohio, on the banks of Little Beaver Creek. The park is popular year-round for camping, boating, fishing, hunting, and hiking. Within the park are historic remnants of the Sandy and Beaver Canal, the restored and historic Gaston's Mill from 1837, a historic recreated pioneer village, abandoned canal locks, and the Beaver Creek Wildlife Education Center. The center features live animals, a display of arrowheads, insects, and photographs of nature. All around is magnificent wildlife area. Beaver Creek is a popular destination for anglers who come for smallmouth and rock bass. The creek is also great for kayaking and rafting. Hikers enjoy 16 miles of trails through the park.
12021 Echo Dell Rd, East Liverpool, OH 43920, Phone: 330-385-3091
2.Caesar Creek State Park
© Paul Lemke/stock.adobe.com
Located in southwestern Ohio, five miles from Waynesville, Caesar Creek State Park is a 3,741-acre park with a 2,830-acre lake in its heart. It was created in the 1970s as a result of building a dam on Caesar Creek. The park includes meadows, woodlands, and ravines, and it offers wonderful opportunities for all kinds of recreation – boating, fishing, hunting, swimming, camping, hiking, and horseback riding. There is a lovely 1,300-foot long sandy beach great for swimming in the summer. Also located within the park is Caesar's Creek Pioneer Village with 15 log cabins, a Quaker meeting house, a pioneer school house, a carpenter shop, and a toll house. Next to the Pioneer Village is Caesar Creek Nature Center with exhibits on the cultural and natural history of the area. The center offers nature education programs, hikes, campouts, and maple syrup outings.
8570 OH-73, Waynesville, OH 45068
3.Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Cuyahoga Valley National Park is a 32,572-acre park located between Cleveland and Akron along the Cuyahoga River. The park includes rolling hills, forests, narrow ravines, rivers, wetlands, and more than 100 waterfalls. Of the park’s many hiking trails, the most famous is the 20-mile Towpath Trail, which follows a stretch of the former Ohio and Erie Canal and is popular for hiking, bicycling, and running. Visitors to the park can also play golf or take a railroad tour on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. In the winter, Kendall Hills are famous for skiing and sledding. The park also includes the Hale Farm and Village with displays of 19th and early 20th century farming and rural living.
15610 Vaughn Rd, Brecksville, OH 44141-3018
4.Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park
© NPS Photo
Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park in Dayton, Ohio commemorates the work of Wilbur Wright, Orville Wright, and poet Paul Laurence Dunbar in the Miami Valley. The park includes five National Historic Landmarks and a National Register Historic District. Together they tell the story of the lives and works of the Wright brothers and the poet Paul Laurence Dunbar. They are the Wright Cycle Company building, Huffman Prairie Flying Field, Hoover Block, 1905 Wright Flyer III, Hawthorn Hill, and the Paul Laurence Dunbar State Memorial. The centerpiece of the park is 1905 Wright Flyer III, the world's first functioning airplane, built in 1905 by the Wright brothers and flown at Huffman Prairie Flying Field.
22 S Williams St, Dayton, OH 45402-8235
5.East Harbor State Park
Located on the shores of Lake Erie near Lakeside Marblehead, East Harbor State Park includes a beach, marina, campground, and wetland wildlife preserve. The park is a popular destination for swimming, boating, fishing, hunting, picnicking, and disc golf. The beach is a thin stretch of sand that separates Middle Harbor from the lake. The beach was two miles long before a big part of it was washed away during the 1972 storm. The current beach covers the area to the north of the park and is popular with swimmers. Four offshore breakwaters have been constructed on the Northern part of beach to protect what is left of the beach.
1169 N Buck Rd, Lakeside Marblehead, OH 43440, Phone: 419-734-4424
6.Findley State Park
The 838-acre Findley State Park is a densely wooded area composed of red maple, white ash, wild black cherry, oaks, white and red pine, and beech. The park was once a state forest and is known for the scenic hiking trails that run through spectacular wildflowers and offer an opportunity to observe wildlife. The forested areas are mixed with rolling fields and 93-acre lake that offers swimming at the 435-foot beach and boating. There are two launch ramps and a marina where visitors can rent canoes, rowboats, and paddleboats. There is a campsite with a recreation area with a basketball court, sand volleyball, and two horseshoe pits.
25381 OH-58, Wellington, OH 44090, Phone: 440-647-4490
7.Geneva State Park
Geneva State Park is a 698-acre park located on the Ohio's northeastern shoreline. With a six-lane boat ramp and full service marina, the park offers easy access to Lake Erie's central basin. The most popular activities are hiking, fishing, boating, camping, canoeing, and swimming. In the winter, folks come for snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, and ice fishing. There is a lodge and lakeside cottages for those who want to stay overnight. The lake has a nice beach perfect for swimming or playing in the sand. There is also a bike path, mini golf, bumper boats, go-carts, and a fun water slide. Six miles of multi-use trails meander through the park.
4499 Padanarum Rd, Geneva on the Lake, OH 44041-8172
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8.Hocking Hills State Park
Hocking Hills State Park is a popular state park in the Hocking Hills region of Ohio near the Hocking State Forest. Lake Logan is located within the park, offering boating, kayaking, rafting, canoeing, swimming, and hiking around the area. The park has more than 25 miles of hiking trails, fascinating rock formations, waterfalls, and caves. There are seven distinct hiking areas: Ash Cave, Cantwell Cliffs, Conkle's Hollow nature preserve, Cedar Falls, Rock House, Old Man's Cave, and Hemlock Bridge Trail that leads to Whispering Cave. There are more than 200 campsites in the park, all close to the hiking trails. The park is a popular destination for rock climbing and rappelling, with 99 acres of the park set aside for this activity. Fishing and bird-watching are also popular.
19852 OH-664, Logan, OH 43138
9.Hopewell Culture National Historical Park
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Hopewell Culture National Historical Park was established to protect the prehistoric remains of the Hopewell culture that thrived in the Ohio Valley from about 200 BC to AD 500. The term Hopewell describes a network of Native American groups with similar economic and political practices and spiritual beliefs who lived in woodlands of eastern North America. The park is composed of six sites in Ross County, Ohio, including what was once known as Mound City Group National Monument. The park includes archaeological remains such as burial mounts and earthworks. Hopewell Culture National Historical Park is part of the Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks, one of 14 sites included in the list the United States nominated for the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
16062 State Route 104, Chillicothe, OH 45601-8694
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10.Hueston Woods State Park
Hueston Woods State Park is a 3,000-acre park in Ohio’s Butler and Preble counties. The park surrounds scenic 625-acre Acton Lake and is a popular destination for hiking, canoeing, fishing, and fossil-hunting, an activity unique for this park. The protected 200-acre old growth forest is all that is left of the once vast forests in this area that were cleared by early settlers. It offers visitors and hikers a glimpse into the primeval forests that covered the entire Ohio once. Ancient beech and sugar maple trees offer dense shade and create the perfect environment for lush ferns, wildflowers, and other woodland species. The park also has the 18-hole, 7,005-yard, par 72 golf course about eight miles from the park entrance.
There is a 1,500-foot swimming beach on the shore of the lake, with a bathhouse and a concession stand. Boaters have easy access to the lake through numerous launch ramps and docks. Anglers come for a healthy population of largemouth bass, channel catfish, crappie, and bluegill.
College Corner, OH 45003
11.Independence Dam State Park
Independence Dam State Park is a 591-acre park on the banks of the Maumee River. One of its main features are the ruins of the Miami and Erie Canal. The park was established in 1949 and attracts outdoor enthusiasts who love boating, hiking, fishing, and picnicking. The banks of the Maumee River are covered by dense stands of mature sycamore, maple, beech, and black locust trees. The trees and the river create the perfect environment for a variety of plants and animals such as skunks, raccoons, fox squirrels, groundhogs, jewelweed, Louisiana waterthrush, and yellow-throated warblers. Unlimited horsepower boating is permitted on the river. Fishermen come for northern pike, walleye, crappie, smallmouth bass, and catfish. What was once the towpath for the Miami and Erie Canal is now a popular hiking and biking trail.
27722 County Rd 424, Defiance, OH 43512
12.Indian Lake State Park
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Indian Lake State Park was developed around the 5,104-acre reservoir in western Ohio, about 20 miles from Lima. The reservoir was built in the 1850s and is the beginning of the Great Miami River. Indian Lake is a popular destination for water-related activities such as boating and fishing. Camping in the summer and skiing in the winter are also popular. The lake lies on one of the major bird migration routes and is an important resting place for many kinds of birds such as Canada geese, grebes, ducks, swans, egrets, and herons. There are 443 campsites on the lake’s northwest shore. Campers enjoy access to the beach, boat ramp, and docks. There are two beaches outside the campground: Old Field Beach and Fox Island Beach.
12774 State Route 235, Lakeview, OH 43331-9394
13.John Bryan State Park
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John Bryan State Park is a 752-acre park in Greene County, Ohio. In the heart of the park is Clifton Gorge, where the Little Miami River cuts through the limestone rock between Yellow Springs and Clifton. The park has a campground and a network of hiking and biking trails. The park is located next to the Clifton Gorge State Nature Preserve and Glen Helen Nature Preserve. This incredibly scenic park is a popular destination for rock climbing, rappelling, fishing, and canoeing. A part of the gorge is a national natural landmark.
3790 Ohio 370, Yellow Springs, OH 45387
14.Kelleys Island State Park
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Kelleys Island State Park is a 676-acre park established in 1956. The park protects almost one third of Kelleys Island in Lake Erie. The park offers six miles of hiking trails, ruins of historic lime kilns and quarrying operations, a sand beach, and a spacious State Park Campground with 129 campsites, including yurts with kitchens and baths. The island is a popular destination for boating, fishing, camping, hiking, and more. The campground has a playground for kids, a volleyball court and a fish-cleaning hut, and it also offers direct access to the sandy State Park Beach. To the north of the beach is a free boat launch and next to it is a stone pier that offers great fishing and breathtaking views of Lake Erie and nearby Pelee Island.
920 Division St, Kelleys Island, OH 43438
15.Lake Hope State Park
Lake Hope State Park is a 2,983-acre public recreation area within Zaleski State Forest, about five miles from Zaleski, Ohio. In the heart of the park is a 120-acre Lake Hope in the valley of Big Sandy Run. The whole region is rugged and heavily forested, crossed by steep gorges and narrow ridges. There are also remains of abandoned mining and iron-making industries surrounded by the incredibly beautiful scenery. The park has a network of hiking and mountain biking trails. It is also popular destination for boating, swimming, and fishing. There is a lodge that provides accommodation and area information. It has a gift shop and full service restaurant. There is also a large campground and a number of cottages for rent.
27331 OH-278, McArthur, OH 45651
16.Lake Loramie State Park
Lake Loramie State Park is a 407-acre public recreation area on Lake Loramie, northeast of Fort Loramie, Ohio. The park is a popular destination for boaters and fishermen who come for crappie, bluegill, bullheads, channel catfish, carp, and largemouth bass. There is a campground and several cabins. During summer, a nice sandy beach on the lake is great for swimming. There is a hiking trail along the old canal towpath, and quiet lake waters are great for slow cruises in a kayak or canoe. There is also a kids’ playground and a camp store open during the summer. Kayaks and canoes are available for rent.
4401 Fort Loramie-Swanders Rd, Minster, OH 45865
17.Maumee Bay State Park
Maumee Bay State Park is a 1,336-acre park in Jerusalem Township, Ohio on the shore of Lake Erie. The park includes wide sandy beaches, rolling meadows, lush marshes full of birds transected by raised walkways, and wet forests full of wildlife. The park is a great destination for hiking, picnicking, golfing, fishing, hunting, bird watching, boating, swimming, and geocaching. The park has resort lodges and cottages for overnight stay. Camping and gateway rentals are also available. There is a nature center that provides information on this unique environment as well as kids’ playground and a water slide. The park is open year round.
1400 State Park Road, Oregon, OH 43616, Phone: 419-836-7758
18.Mohican State Park
Mohican State Park is a 1,110-acre park in Ashland County, Ohio, on the south shore of Pleasant Hill Lake and about five miles from downtown Loudonville. The park is surrounded by the Mohican-Memorial State Forest. The Clear Fork of the Mohican River runs through a narrow gorge in the park before joining the Black Fork about a half-mile from the park, forming the Mohican River. The park is a popular destination for camping, hiking, mountain biking, boating, fishing, and picnicking. Hikers enjoy about 13 miles of trails. There are also separate mountain bike trails and bridle paths. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, park visitors can take part in a range of daily naturalist activities such as movies at the Campground amphitheater, family games, nature hikes, and grist mill tours.
3116 OH-3, Loudonville, OH 44842, Phone: 419-994-4290
19.Nelson-Kennedy Ledges State Park
Nelson-Kennedy Ledges State Park is located in Ohio’s Nelson Township, Portage County. The area has been a popular recreation spot for a long time, and it became a park in 1949. The most important features of the park are the interesting sandstone rock formations, some of them 50 to 60 feet high with 60 feet deep fissures at times. Nelson-Kennedy Ledges is a popular destination for picnicking and hiking. There are more than three miles of main hiking trails, and many others that are unmarked and more strenuous. The park is mostly covered in the beech-maple forest, with some yellow birch, Canadian Hemlock, and Canada yew. The forest, with its dense leafy canopy, is full of songbirds and small mammals such as raccoons, skunks, and fox squirrels.
12440 OH-282, Garrettsville, OH 44231, Phone: 440-564-2279
20.Pymatuning State Park
Pymatuning State Park is a 3,512-acre park near Andover, Ohio. Its main attraction is Pymatuning Lake, a popular destination for fishing and boating. The lake was created in the 1930s as a result of the construction of a dam on the Shenango River. The lake has several sandy beaches and camping areas. The northeastern part of Pymatuning Lake is a protected area where about 20,000 Canada geese and many ducks overwinter every year. There is a three-mile long causeway that stretches through the center of the lake between Pennsylvania and Ohio. The lake is home to plenty of walleye and muskellunge, attracting eager fishermen.
6100 Pymatuning Lake Rd, Andover, OH 44003, Phone: 440-293-6030
21.Salt Fork State Park
Salt Fork State Park is the largest state park in Ohio, with 17,229 acres of land and 2,952 acres of water. This popular recreation area is located about six miles from Lore City in Guernsey County. The park features the Kennedy Stone House, an 18-hole golf course, two marinas, 2,500-foot swimming beach, and seven public boat launching ramps. The lake is a great destination for fishing for largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie, walleye, and muskellunge. It also offers picnicking facilities, trails for hiking, horseback riding and snowmobiling, miniature golf, an archery range, and a nature center.
14755 Cadiz Rd, Lore City, OH 43755, Phone: 740-432-1508
22.South Bass Island State Park
South Bass Island State Park is a 33-acre park set high up on the white cliffs of South Bass Island, with breathtaking views of Lake Erie. There is a wooded campground and a scenic lakeside picnic area, perfect for a quiet, peaceful day out in the nature. The park has a stone swimming beach with shelters, picnic tables, grills, a play area, and restrooms. Fishing and a small boat launch are also available. The park is known for its historic wineries, beautiful crystal caverns and fascinating limestone cliffs, and fun watersports on the lake. The park is accessible by ferry year around from Catawba Island or Port Clinton.
1523 Catawba Ave, Put-In-Bay, OH 43456, Phone: 419-285-2112
23.Strouds Run State Park
Strouds Run State Park is a 2,606-acre park located in Canaan and Ames Townships, Ohio on the outskirts of the city of Athens and at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. In the heart of the park is a 161-acre Dow Lake. This small artificial lake is regularly stocked with rainbow trout, which cannot survive the Ohio winters. The park features fascinating sandstone bluffs and rock outcrops and several beaver ponds. The 40 miles of trails that meander through the park are used by hikers and mountain bikers. Ohio University uses Dow Lake for aquatic sports, making it very popular with the students, especially for kayaking and canoeing.
11661 State Park Rd, Athens, OH 45701, Phone: 740-384-4474
24.Tar Hollow State Park
Located in Laurelville, Ohio, Tar Hollow State Park is surrounded by the foothills of the Appalachian Plateau and is part of Tar Hollow State Forest. The park offers hiking trails, boating, fishing, and swimming on Pine Lake. The park is covered by scattered pitch pine and shortleaf groves intersected by deep ravines and meandering forest roads. In the spring, the hillsides are covered with blooming dogwoods, redbuds, and wildflowers. The park is even more beautiful in the fall when the trees put up a colorful show. It is also a popular destination for backpackers from Columbus. It offers picnic shelters, a general store, and camping.
16396 Tar Hollow Rd, Laurelville, OH 43135, Phone: 740-887-4818
25.West Branch State Park
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West Branch State Park is located near Ravenna, Ohio on the Mahoning River. The park covers 5,352 acres of land and 2,650 acres of water, offering boating, fishing, and swimming on the Michael J. Kirwan Reservoir. The park has a campground with 198 campsites, 12 miles of hiking trails, 20 miles of bridle trails, and about eight miles of biking and snowmobile trails. Hunting for deer, waterfowl, and small game is permitted in some areas during hunting season. Boats are available for rental at the marina. The campground is well-organized and has a range of different camping options. Some lakeside camping sites offer boat access.
5570 Esworthy Rd, Ravenna, OH 44266
25 Best Ohio State & National Parks
- Beaver Creek State Park, Photo: Alextype/stock.adobe.com
- Caesar Creek State Park, Photo: Paul Lemke/stock.adobe.com
- Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Photo: shrirampatki/stock.adobe.com
- Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park, Photo: NPS Photo
- East Harbor State Park, Photo: kitty45/stock.adobe.com
- Findley State Park, Photo: ant/stock.adobe.com
- Geneva State Park, Photo: Jason/stock.adobe.com
- Hocking Hills State Park, Photo: sara_winter/stock.adobe.com
- Hopewell Culture National Historical Park, Photo: Zack Frank/stock.adobe.com
- Hueston Woods State Park, Photo: indygreek/stock.adobe.com
- Independence Dam State Park, Photo: Brilt/stock.adobe.com
- Indian Lake State Park, Photo: Michele Ursi/stock.adobe.com
- John Bryan State Park, Photo: Paul Lemke/stock.adobe.com
- Kelleys Island State Park, Photo: Becky Swora/stock.adobe.com
- Lake Hope State Park, Photo: jbkmu99/stock.adobe.com
- Lake Loramie State Park, Photo: Baronb/stock.adobe.com
- Maumee Bay State Park, Photo: Juli/stock.adobe.com
- Mohican State Park, Photo: val2014/stock.adobe.com
- Nelson-Kennedy Ledges State Park, Photo: redtbird02/stock.adobe.com
- Pymatuning State Park, Photo: Warren/stock.adobe.com
- Salt Fork State Park, Photo: Richard/stock.adobe.com
- South Bass Island State Park, Photo: singjai/stock.adobe.com
- Strouds Run State Park, Photo: kichigin19/stock.adobe.com
- Tar Hollow State Park, Photo: fox17/stock.adobe.com
- West Branch State Park, Photo: Mr Twister/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: Kenneth Keifer/stock.adobe.com