Snowmobiling and Sledding and Cross-Country Skiing, Oh My!
Great Winter Getaways in the Ohio State Parks
Exciting outdoor activities throughout the winter at four Ohio State Parks range from snow sledding and snowmobiling to guided nature walks, geocaching and bird watching.
These four parks in the woods are within easy drives from Ohio cities and major highways. Salt Fork is 12 miles from Cambridge near the I-70/I-77 interchange. Mohican is about 75 miles from either Columbus or Akron. Punderson is 35 miles east of Cleveland and Deer Creek is 35 miles south of Columbus.
One major draw of the parks is the variety of birdwatching activities, either at the parks themselves or within easy driving distance. At Salt Fork, Mohican, Punderson and Deer Creek naturalist programs highlight the importance of birds, provide tips on protecting their habitats and spotlight their place in the food chain. Ohio’s marshes and wetlands are a haven for birds, both local residents and flocks of migratory birds that fill the airways as the snow melts into spring.
Here are some fun winter activities for each park.
Deer Creek State Park Lodge
Outdoor activities: Hiking and nature walks, birdwatching, geocaching, ice-skating, ice fishing and snowmobiling (bring your own) on 17 miles of trails. The park is a collage of meadows and woodlands in gently rolling hills that surround a scenic reservoir at Deer Creek Lake.
Indoor activities: Fireside chats, indoor pool with hot tub, cards and board games.
Mohican State Park Lodge
Outdoor activities: Hiking and woodsy nature walks in the secluded hills, birdwatching, geocaching and snowmobiling (bring your own). On the western edge of the state park is Mohican Memorial State Forest, where the hemlock-lined Clear Fork Gorge is a National Natural Landmark.
Indoor activities: Fireside chats, indoor pool, sauna, cards and board games, and game rooms.
Punderson Manor State Park Lodge
Outdoor activities: Punderson is Ohio’s premier winter-sports park with excellent sledding, cross-country skiing on more than six miles of trails and snowmobiling (bring your own) in the hills around a 150-acre natural lake. There are also hiking and nature walks, birdwatching, ice fishing, geocaching, and the popular sledding hill with mechanical tow rope.
Indoor activities: Fireside chats, indoor pool, cards and board games.
Salt Fork State Park Lodge
Outdoor activities: Sledding, hiking and nature walks, birdwatching, geocaching, cross-country skiing, ice-skating, ice fishing and snowmobiling (bring your own) on 19 miles of trails. Salt Fork Wildlife Area includes an 80-acre marsh, and the park sits along Salt Fork Lake’s 74 miles of shoreline.
Indoor activities: Fireside chats, indoor pool with hot tub, cards and board games, game room with pool and video games. Separate cabins have hot tubs.
The Ohio State Park Lodges are pet-friendly and are open year round.
For special guided winter hikes and events, a winter recreation chart, and a brochure on Ohio parks winter activities, go to parks.ohiodnr.gov/winter.
For more travel experiences available from Xanterra Parks & Resorts and its affiliated properties, visit Xanterra.com/explore.
WRITTEN BY: DAVID G. MOLYNEAUX
Ohio-based freelancer David Molyneaux writes regularly about travel and cruising tips and trends for newspapers and websites in Miami, Dallas and Cleveland. He is editor of TheTravelMavens.com.