HOME BASE: THE OHIO STATE PARK LODGES
These four park lodges offer an ideal base for exploring their surrounding areas
The Ohio State Park Lodges and Conference Centers take pride in being a part of the communities that surround them. Since the lodges are located in four different geographical regions in Ohio, guests have the chance to experience the outdoor environments, activities, landmarks, and points of interest that are unique to each.
The lakeside lodges include Deer Creek, in Pickaway County; Salt Fork, in Guernsey County; Mohican, near Loudonville; and Punderson Manor, in Geauga County. Each provides the ideal base for exploring the surrounding towns and communities that they call home.
When you stay at Mohican State Park Lodge, especially in the summer, it doesn’t take long to realize that you’re in the canoe capital of Ohio. The nearby community of Loudonville has several canoe liveries where you can rent a canoe, raft, or inner tube and spend a day gliding along the Mohican River.
When you dry off, explore the village of Loudonville where festivals like the Mohican Winter Fest and the Mohican Bluegrass Festival (in September) turn downtown into a community gathering place.
While the area is best known for outdoor activities like hiking, horseback riding, and ziplining, there are some cultural gems worth exploring. The Cleo Redd Fisher Museum features historical and cultural exhibits related to the Mohican area and the Wolf Creek Grist Mill is one of the oldest working gristmills in Ohio.
Loudonville is a warm community complete with everything you expect from small-town USA, including vintage architecture on Main Street and home-cooked food at village establishments like the Hanover House Diner.
Salt Fork (Guernsey County)
Centrally located in Guernsey County, Salt Fork State Park Lodge offers easy access to fascinating points of interest. The Wilds, an animal conservation sanctuary, is one of the area’s highlights, perfect for day-trips to go mountain biking, birding, ziplining, fishing, or taking an open-air safari. Enjoy a sunset expedition along the rolling hills of southern Ohio as you get up-close to rhino and giraffe in natural outdoor habitats.
The small town of Cambridge, where the National Road runs through the center of town, offers some big attractions. Tour the National Museum of Cambridge Glass or learn about the significance of the town’s placement along the National Road, early America’s busiest route west, at the National Road and Zane Grey Museum. There are even periodic walking tours called, “Forgotten Places & Spaces of Cambridge” that take you through some of the most historic properties in the area.
Be sure to save time to relax with a slice of mile-high peach pie at Theo’s Restaurant or a glass of wine at Georgetown Vineyards and enjoy the slower pace of small-town life.
Deer Creek (Pickaway County)
The Pickaway County community that surrounds Deer Creek State Park Lodge has all of the rural charm that is special to Ohio. Nearby Honeyrun Farm is a popular day-trip from the lodge for visitors who want to experience the peacefulness of rural Ohio. The family-owned farm, located in Williamsport, grows organic produce and sells raw honey collected from 700 beehives on the property.
Also nearby is the A & R Alpaca Farm and Gift Shop where you can tour the farm to observe more than 100 alpacas. You will also learn about products made from alpaca fur and find items for sale
For more of a hands-on farm experience, visit Slate Run Living Historical Farm. It is a working farm replicating life in the 1880s with costumed staff and a restored Gothic Revival farmhouse dating from 1856.
Head into the county seat of Circleville to visit the Ted Lewis Museum and see rare memorabilia from Ohio native and influential jazz musician Ted Lewis. If your timing is right, you can take part in the famous Circleville Pumpkin Show, which starts the third Wednesday of October and runs to Saturday. This Ohio tradition is the country’s largest festival dedicated to pumpkins with parades, entertainment, and a pumpkin contest.
Punderson Manor (Geauga County)
Nestled in the heart of Geauga County, one of the largest Amish communities in the world, is Punderson Manor State Park Lodge. The tranquil surroundings will ensure a peaceful night’s sleep, and during the day you can explore the small towns that breathe life into northeast Ohio.
While meandering on the back roads in this community, you will stumble on life’s simple pleasures like the Century Village Museum in the Village of Burton that has a working farm producing fresh maple syrup as well as 20 historically authentic buildings. Park your car in the center of the village and walk to the many small boutiques, gift shops, and restaurants that surround the main square.
Enjoy some of the culinary traditions of the area, like the cheese you can watch being made at the Middlefield Original Cheese Co-op or the fresh bread and pies at the Nauvoo Family Market in Middlefield.
For a bit of nostalgia, take a short drive to the End of the Commons General Store in Mesopotamia. The oldest general store in Ohio still sells penny candy by the bag full and has a large cooler of hard-to-find old-school bottled soda.
How To Explore
Open year-round, the four lakeside lodges of the Ohio State Parks offer a variety of accommodation types, ranging from standard and bunk/loft rooms to two- and four-bedroom cabins. Besides hiking, they offer indoor/outdoor pools, golf, boating, full-service dining and more.
Written by: Anietra Hamper
Ohio resident Anietra Hamper is an award-winning travel writer who specializes in covering outdoor activities.