More than 25 percent of Ohio’s 74 state parks are in the southwestern part of the state.
Visitors to the area will see many updates during the next two years thanks to an $88.5 million investment from the state last year for capital improvements that will modernize campgrounds, facilities, trails, parking lots and bridges.
Among the most recent upgrades is a new marina at Shawnee State Park in Scioto County and another that is under construction at Caesar Creek State Park in Warren County.
With about 99 percent of Ohio’s estimated 11.5 million residents living within 36 miles of a waterway that can accommodate a powerboat, the additions are a response by the park system to the popularity of recreational boating.
The marina at Shawnee State Park, situated in the Appalachian foothills near the banks of the Ohio River, features 72 boat slips of either 36 or 50 feet that include water and electric service. The marina also features recently renovated restrooms.
Recommended for you
Recommended for you
Recommended for you
An 18-hole championship golf course, which is part of the 1,095-acre Shawnee State Park, is adjacent to the marina. The park, nicknamed “the Little Smokies,” also features a resort lodge, a campground and rental cabins, and is in the 63,000-acre Shawnee State Forest. Trek the trails of Ohio’s Little Smokies by day, then bunk in Shawnee’s cozy Camper Cabins. Visit the nature center, canoe the placid lake, then leave the rustic behind and tee up at the golf course or lounge poolside at the lodge.
While you’re there, keep a watchful eye: The rugged Appalachian hills of Shawnee state park and forest welcome wildlife that is typically found farther south.
Information: 740-858-6652 or parks.ohiodnr.gov/shawnee
Here are other opportunities in southwestern Ohio to create special memories.
Nature centers throughout the Ohio State Parks system give visitors the opportunity to see animals including mountain lions, bobcats, eagles, hawks, owls and reptiles — many native to Ohio. Explore centers at Caesar Creek (Warren County, Clinton and Greene counties), Hueston Woods (Butler and Preble counties) and Shawnee state parks.
Treat your sweetie to a romantic getaway in a charming couple’s cottage on the lakeshore at Hueston Woods. No baby sitter? No problem. The park surrounds 625-acre Acton Lake, with campsites, cabins and a resort lodge to entice the overnight visitor. Choose a spacious family cabin for your crew, and keep them entertained with horseback riding, golf-course specials, disc golf, archery, a nature center, fossil hunting, canoeing and more. (See phone and website above.)
Head to John Bryan State Park in Greene County for 9 miles of trails that skirt the rim and the gorge of the cascading Little Miami River. Looking for a shorter stroll? Neighboring Clifton Gorge State Nature Preserve is renowned for spring wildflowers. It’s a short drive to downtown Yellow Springs, where you can enjoy brunch or dinner at the Winds (www.windscafe.com) to make a day of it. If you visit the park in the evening, check out the observatory operated by the Miami Valley Astronomical Society and get a good look at the stars.
Information: 937-767-1274 or parks.ohiodnr.gov/johnbryan
In Ross County, dramatic vistas are your reward for breathtaking uphill climbs on Great Seal State Park’s network of multi-use trails. In fact, 23 total miles of trails are available to hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians. Mountain bikes are permitted on 17 miles of multi-use trails. The trails, recommended for advanced cyclists, cross mostly wooded, hilly terrain with some steep inclines and ravines. The Shawnee Ridge Trail (5 miles, one way) and the Mount Ives Trail (1 mile, one way) dance along ridgetops with amazing views for hikers. For a milder workout, take along a Frisbee for a brisk walk and a rousing round of disc golf on Great Seal’s disc golf course.
Information: 740-887-4818 or parks.ohiodnr.gov/greatseal
Rocky Fork State Park in Highland County rocks with camping and boating — with campers-only docks and a launch ramp in the campground, a marina with fuel and rentals, full hookup sites, lakeside sites, pull-through sites, miniature golf, disc golf, and WiFi and a snack bar at the camp office. Two large public beaches provide 800 feet of lake access for swimming, and the campground features volleyball and basketball courts.
Information: 937-393-4284 or parks.ohiodnr.gov/rockyfork
Map out a biking adventure and discover countless natural wonders by biking the 75-mile Little Miami Scenic Trail, which crosses into Hamilton, Clermont, Warren, Greene and Clark counties. Go a few miles or tour multiple counties. For travel tips, suggested routes and maps, visit littlemiamistatepark.org. And for other great places to bike in Ohio, visit bike.ohio.gov.