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10 Best State Parks in Ohio

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Ohio is scattered with amazing places to experience the great outdoors. State forests, memorials, nature preserves, wildlife areas and more than 70 incredible parks. No two parks are alike and each is distinctive in its natural beauty. Here are our favorite state parks in Ohio! 

Salt Fork State Park, Lore City, OH

The state’s largest park is teeming with things to do. Hiking, horseback riding, fishing, camping and swimming and boating at the Salt Fork Reservoir make this a favorite for nature-lovers. In any season, visitors are treated to a diversity of spectacular wildflowers, as well as animals from wild turkeys to songbirds, like the scarlet tanager. Trails are accessible throughout the year, by snowmobile in winter.

John Bryan State Park, Yellow Springs, OH

The Little Miami River, which runs through this park, has, throughout the centuries, carved an impressive limestone gorge that can be admired from several vista points. This 752-acre park has a warren of hiking trails that meander past waterfalls and cascading streams. Other activities include canoeing, disc golf, fishing, picnicking, rock climbing and mountain biking. In spring, the more than 300 species of wildflowers cover the park in color.

Malabar Farm State Park, Lucas, OH

This farm pays homage to Louis Bromfield, conservationist, farmer and Pulitzer Prize-winning author. Guided tours of the 32-room Big House, outbuildings and surrounding pastures, still home to goats, beef cattle and chickens, are offered year-round. There’s an education center with information on agriculture, wildlife, energy, conservation and recycling. Best time to visit: during the Maple Syrup Festival in spring or for the change-of-season fall colors.

Kelleys Island State Park, Kelleys Island, OH

Get your sea legs under you, because the only way to get to this park is by ferry. This island park is completely surround by Lake Erie. Once there, hiking and biking trails are easily accessible. There’s a popular summertime public beach, a place for swimming, kayaking or casual sunbathing. Spend the night in one of the campgrounds, both electric and non, or in one of the several large yurts. Ice fishing, ice skating and cross-country skiing for the hearty winter visitors.

Deer Creek State Park, Mt. Sterling, OH

A walk through the woodlands at this 2,300-acre park takes hikers along a dozen or so miles of hiking-only trails. Equestrians have 17 miles of bridal trails to ride along. Other amenities are a campground, golf course, swimming beach, boating activities and a modern lodge with cottages. Park goers can fish, hunt seasonally, picnic and kayak and paddleboard on the reservoir. Plenty of accommodations for large groups, too.

Tar Hollow State Park, Laurelville, OH

If you want to see a slice of Ohio the way it was when the first settlers came to the state, take a trip to this park where the surrounding wilderness is reminiscent of that time. A walk through the dense woodlands takes you past dogwoods and pitch pines, once a source of pine tar, thus the Park’s name. The trails, which range in difficulty, have a little something for everyone. Bridle trails wind through the park for 25 miles. The Logan Backpacking Trail, a serious 21-mile trek for avid hikers, overlaps with the Ohio Buckeye Trail.

Shawnee State Park, Portsmouth, OH

This is known as Ohio’s “Little Smokies” because of the soft, blue haze that blankets the Park’s rolling hills. Numerous hiking trails traverse the park, as do many bridle trails. Fish at Roosevelt and Turkey Creek lakes and you might catch largemouth bass, catfish, bluegill, crappie and trout. Stop by the Nature Center, visit with a naturalist and pick-up info about local wildlife and plants.

Hueston Woods State Park, College Corner, OH

Natural history abounds at this park. Hundreds of acres of native Beech-Maple forest, dubbed the Big Woods, is protected. You can do a little fossil hunting, remnants of an ancient shallow sea that once covered the area. Birders will be glued to their binoculars, looking for one of the 150 species of birds that live in the park. Activities for mountain bikers, horseback riders, hunters and fishermen also available. Dog owners will love the three-acre dog park with lake access.

Beaver Creek State Park, East Liverpool, OH

Grab a canoe, and only a canoe or rubber raft, and take a trip on the swift currents of Little Beaver Creek and past awe-inspiring beauty through the Little Beaver Creek gorge. The 2,700 hundred acres are a mix of wilderness, rugged terrain and forested lands, just right for hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders. The Beaver Creek Wildlife Education Center provides an in-depth look at the area’s natural history. 

Indian Lake State Park, Lakeview, OH

The peacefulness of this park is interrupted only by the honking, quacking, trumpeting and squawking of the hundreds of migratory birds that rest in the waters here as they migrate south. This man-made lake also provides human visitors opportunities to boat, fish, jet-ski, water skiing swim, hike, picnic and camp. Winter brings with it the chance to do some snowmobiling, ice skating, cross-country skiing, ice fishing and ice boating.

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