THREE DAYS OF OUTDOOR FUN AT SALT FORK STATE PARK
Adventurers can enjoy an action-packed long weekend in this Ohio park
The largest state park in Ohio, Salt Fork is one of the best natural playgrounds for outdoor adventurers. With Salt Fork State Park Lodge serving as your home base, you can easily fill a long weekend with golf, archery, fishing, hiking, horseback riding and water sports in a setting of lush woodlands in the rolling hills of southeastern Ohio.
The pine beam and stone lodge has 148 comfortable guestrooms as well as 53 two-bedroom cabins. After a full day of activities, you can rejuvenate in the evenings in the lodge, enjoying all of the comforts of home.
Here’s a three-day itinerary that includes the best of both recreation and relaxation for the outdoor adventurer.
Once you settle into your guest room or cabin, 17,000-acre Salt Fork State Park invites you to come out and play. Spend the morning playing a round of golf on the championship golf course. The sprawling fairways of Salt Fork’s 18-hole, par-71 championship golf course are surrounded by natural forest and can challenge even the most advanced golfer.
Pause for a light lunch of burgers, sandwiches or salads at the lodge at Timber’s Restaurant, before heading out for an afternoon on the water.
The 3,000-acre unlimited horsepower Salt Fork Lake has a multitude of water activities including Jet Ski and boat rentals available at the two in-park marinas. Rent a pontoon for an afternoon of waterskiing or go sailing or canoeing. You can also stay on shore to swim at Ohio’s largest inland beach or enjoy fishing for bass and catfish with a valid Ohio fishing license.
Satisfy the appetite you have worked up with dinner at Timber’s Restaurant. Try some shrimp corn fritters, Guinness meatloaf or “adult” mac & cheese as your view of nature through the floor-to-ceiling glass windows transitions you to evening.
Cap off the night with s’mores around the outdoor bonfire.
After a hearty breakfast at Timber’s Restaurant, head out for a 35-mile drive to The Wilds safari park and conservation center for a day of animal adventures.
In addition to open-air safari tours to see animals such as rhino, zebra, giraffe and cheetah roaming through natural habitats, The Wilds offers outdoor adventurers unique ways to explore the area. You can choose from a Wild Zipline Safari over the antelope watering hole, a Fishing Safari on one of several tranquil lakes and a Horseback Safari. Each gives you a unique perspective of the grasslands, lakes and endangered animals that call The Wilds home. The Wilds also offers mountain bikers a challenging course of trails in the rolling hills of the area.
After your adventure, stop for lunch at the on-site Terrace Grill, located at the midpoint of most tours, or the Overlook Café. Both serve burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches and wraps.
Spend the afternoon exploring Cambridge where you can tour the Mosser Glass factory and the National Museum of Cambridge Glass to learn about the history of glass making. Next, stop at the National Road & Zane Grey Museum to see exhibits about American settlement in the Midwest and the National Road that runs through Cambridge.
Take a stroll through downtown Cambridge for an old-fashioned slice of Americana and maybe a slice of pie, too, at Theo’s Restaurant, which is famous for their mile-high treats.
Drive a few miles for dinner in eastern Cambridge at The Bears Den restaurant to enjoy locally produced beef and delicious farm-to-table dining.
After a full day, head back to Salt Fork Lodge and wind down with an evening swim in the indoor or outdoor pool and a leisurely soak in the hot tub.
Get an early wake-up call to catch the sunrise over Salt Fork Lake. Spend the morning before your departure exploring the miles of trails in the park. You can tackle a section of The Buckeye Trail that passes through the park, or any of the 14 miles of mapped hiking trails that have varying degrees of difficulty. Don’t miss the restored 1840s Kennedy Stone House, listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
For an adventure that is unique to Salt Fork, follow the Bigfoot Sightseeing map, available from the lodge, and hike the routes where sightings of the creature allegedly occurred on the property.
Alternatively, you can ride the trails on horseback. Salt Fork has more than 20 miles of riding trails available to the public and several area stables will rent their horses and even guide guests through the park’s trails.
Enjoy lunch at Timber’s Restaurant before you head home.
For more information and reservations in one of the 148 comfortable guestrooms and 53 two-bedroom cabins at Salt Fork State Park, visit saltforkstateparklodge.com or call 800-282-7275.
For more travel experiences available from Xanterra Parks & Resorts and its affiliated properties, visit xanterra.com/explore.
Written by: Anietra Hamper
Ohio resident Anietra Hamper is an award-winning travel writer who specializes in covering outdoor activities.