Splish-Splash: Water Fun in the Ohio State Parks
Boating, Fishing, Paddleboarding, Swimming, and More Await Visitors in Summer
Summertime in Ohio means swimming, canoeing, waterskiing or just basking in the pool to cool off from the heat. The Ohio State Park Lodges at Punderson Manor, Mohican, Deer Creek, Salt Fork and Maumee Bay offer a variety of ways to enjoy the state’s aquatic resources.
So whether you feel like fishing in Lake Erie, paddleboarding in Deer Creek Lake, or canoeing down the Mohican River, there’s a state park waiting for you and your family.
The 150-acre glacial lake at Punderson Manor is an alluring summer escape. Rent a boat from the on-site marina, take a stroll along the newly extended lakeside boardwalk, or pack a lunch and enjoy an afternoon on the sandy beach. It is easy to find the perfect fishing hole from one of the lake-accessible areas of shoreline. If you don’t know how to fish, you can take part in the free summer naturalist programs that teach the basics of fishing and the kind of species that inhabit the waters.
The newly renovated indoor and outdoor pools are perfect for those who want to stay close to the lodge and challenge friends to a game of Marco Polo.
Spend a day exploring the winding Mohican River by canoe, kayak, or inner tube from one of the canoe liveries located near Mohican State Park Lodge in the heart of Ohio’s canoe capital. Enjoy scheduled free kayaking and canoeing workshops at Pleasant Hill Lake offered by the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District. Cool off with summer naturalist programs including “River Walk: If Rocks Could Talk,” where you learn about the history of the area from the rocks that can be found in the river while you stroll with the naturalist.
Anglers can fish the Clear Fork River beneath the shade of the forest, which is particularly popular for fly fishing. The lodge has several swimming pools including a children’s outdoor wading pool, a competition-size outdoor pool, and a heated indoor pool with sauna.
The 1,300-acre Deer Creek Lake is the star of summer at Deer Creek State Park Lodge. Test your water skills with the newly added, stand-up paddleboards. You can also rent paddleboats and kayaks by the hour directly from the lodge. The lake is designated for unlimited horsepower boating, which means summer afternoons can be filled with waterskiing adventures or just enjoying the wind blowing through your hair. Fishing from shore or by boat in the lake is a favorite pastime at Deer Creek where anglers can target bass, crappie, and saugeye, which are stocked annually.
While many guests spend summer days at the lake, you can also enjoy the lodge’s indoor and outdoor pools.
Guests who stay in the largest state park in Ohio find endless hours of fun swimming, fishing, and boating at the 2,952-acre Salt Fork Lake. Sugartree Marina rents kayaks, canoes, waverunners, and pontoons, and sells fishing gear and bait, while Salt Fork Marina offers overnight dock rental. Waterskiing and swimming from boats are permitted in designated zones. You can even camp out on your boat in no-wake zones within 50 feet of shore. Swimmers enjoy Salt Fork’s 2,500-foot beach, the largest inland beach in Ohio, while anglers can stroll the sprawling shoreline for bass, bluegill, and walleye.
For family fun, join an activity staff member for cane pole fishing, a pontoon excursion, or organized pool activities like water balloon tosses.
Nothing says summer like the beautiful shores of Lake Erie where you can enjoy the sound of waves crashing on the 1,500-foot stretch of beach or target walleye and yellow perch in the walleye capital of the world. Maumee Bay’s 57-acre inland lake is perfect for a day of swimming, windsurfing, fishing, or just lying on the beach. A second on-site lake offers paddleboat and canoe rentals for more secluded time on the water.
The Maumee Bay marina is a favorite among boaters who can stay on one of the 24 overnight slips and seven transient slips for day use. The lodge offers a kid’s splash garden for younger children and indoor and outdoor pools.
For more information on Ohio State Park Lodges, visit ohiostateparklodges.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.