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Ohio State Parks

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USA Parks
Central Ohio Region
Buckeye Lake State Park
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Buckeye Lake State Park © dankeck / CC0 1.0
Buckeye Lake State Park © Eric Hoffman
Buckeye Lake State Park Buckeye Lake © Lonnie Williams
Lake View
Buckeye Lake State Park Buckeye Lake © Lonnie Williams
Entrance Sign
Buckeye Lake State Park Buckeye Lake © Lonnie Williams
Lake View
Buckeye Lake State Park © Gabriele Swanson
Buckeye Lake State Park © Gabriele Swanson
Buckeye Lake State Park © dankeck / CC0 1.0
Buckeye Lake State Park © dankeck / CC0 1.0
Buckeye Lake State Park © dankeck / CC0 1.0
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2905 Leibs Island Rd NE
Millersport, Ohio   43046
(lat:39.9211 lon:-82.4803) map location

Phone: 740-467-2690
Buckeye Lake, constructed as a canal feeder lake in 1826, is Ohio's oldest state park. The park has long been a popular vacation spot and offers endless water-related recreational opportunities including swimming, skiing, boating and fishing.
Park Map (pdf)
Nature of the Area
At one time, the ground now known as Buckeye Lake was swampland resulting from glaciation. Thousands of years ago the glaciers moved south across Ohio altering drainage systems and landscape. Natural lakes, known as kettles, were created when huge chunks of ice broke off the glacier and melted in depressions. Other lakes were formed when the glacier blocked existing water outlets. As time progressed, clay and silt settled out of the still water into the bottom of the lakes.

Today as we study the landscape, we can learn of the old lake locations by the nature of the underlying clay and silt. The large area of fine clay sediment in the Buckeye Lake region indicates that the glacial lake was broader than the present man-made lake.

When the white man began settling in Ohio, only a few of the ancient lakes remained. They were shallow and swampy, and more correctly classified as bogs or marshes. Explorer Christopher Gist, while traveling the Scioto-Beaver Trail just south of Buckeye Lake, camped by the watery bog's edge. In 1751, he named the area Buffalo Lick or Great Swamp in his journal. The Great Swamp included two long narrow ponds that were joined during high water. A considerable part of the wetland was a cranberry-sphagnum bog. Cranberry Bog, a state nature preserve and a National Natural Landmark, is situated in Buckeye Lake. When the lake was impounded in 1826, Cranberry Bog broke loose from the bottom and became a floating island which may conceivably be the only one of its kind in the world. Most of the islan

d is an open sphagnum moss meadow with an abundance of cranberries and pitcher plants making the area a naturalist's delight. Access to the island is by permit only from the ODNR Division of Natural Areas and Preserves.

Buckeye Lake's shoreline offers excellent habitat for waterfowl. Good bird-watching opportunities exist especially during the spring and fall migrations. One of the state's largest great blue heron rookeries is situated on adjacent private land, but the birds can often be seen in the park.
History of the Area
In order to provide interconnecting waterways for a growing state, a canal system was developed in the early 1800's. The system required feeder lakes to supply the water necessary to maintain the four-foot canal water level. Because of their location, areas such as St. Marys, Indian Lake, Lake Loramie, Guilford and Buckeye lakes were to be developed as part of the project.

The canal project was formally started by Governor Jeremiah Morrow on July 4, 1825 in a special ceremony near Newark. In attendance was New York's DeWitt Clinton, the father of the Erie Canal. Ohio's canal system was becoming a reality.

Construction of the dike blocking drainage into the South Fork of the Licking River began in 1826 and was completed in 1830, forming the Licking Summit Reservoir which would eventually become Buckeye Lake. Before impoundment, the forests were not cleared leaving large tracts of timber and brush emergent in the newly formed lake.

As the water level rose, several large mats of sphagnum moss broke loose from the bottom and became "floating islands". Other islands were created because the land was above the water level.

During the canal era, canal boats traveled along the original western end of the lake. This lake however, was not large enough to supply the necessary water for the canal so it was enlarged. Later, in order to provide an even larger amount of water, another lake was developed north and west of the original one. A dike, known as "Middle Wall", separated the Old Reservoir and New Reservoir. This dike was used as a towpath for the canal.

With the advent of railroads, the canal system became outdated. Many miles of canal fell into disuse and were abandoned or sold. In 1894, the General Assembly of Ohio set a policy whereby the feeder reservoirs were established as public parks. At that time, the name of Licking Summit Reservoir was changed to Buckeye Lake.

By 1900, there were numerous cottages and several amusement parks around Buckeye Lake. In the early 1900's, as recreational use increased and power boats became popular, the "North Bank" was reinforced and the "Middle Wall" removed. Development continued around the lake. During the 1940's and 50's, many folks traveled to the Buckeye Lake Amusement Park to see big-band stars, dance and picnic.

In 1949, when the Ohio Department of Natural Resources was created, the area officially became Buckeye Lake State Park.
Ohio does not have an annual pass and does not charge entrance fees to state parks.
GeneralLand, acres176
 Water, acres3,173
 Picnic Shelters, #4
 Swimming Beachyes
BoatingBoating LimitsUnlimited HP
 Seasonal Dock Rental136
 Launch Ramps, #9
 Fuel For Saleyes
WinterCross-Country Skiingyes
 Ice Boatingyes
 Ice Skatingyes
 Ice Fishingyes
Public swimming areas with parking facilities, change booths and latrines are located at Fairfield Beach and at Brooks Park on the south side of the lake. Beaches are open from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Two boat/swim areas are offered as well.
The 3,300-acre Buckeye Lake is designated as an unlimited horsepower lake, but pontoons, sailboats, canoes and rowboats are also common. Access to the lake is available at several public launch ramps.
Lake Map (pdf)
Buckeye Lake State Park in Ohio offers a variety of fishing options for both novice and experienced anglers. The lake is home to several species including largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie, channel catfish and saugeye which can be caught from the shore or by boat. There are multiple public access points around the lake where you can cast your line directly into its waters.

For those who prefer boating while they fish, there's an accessible launch ramp available at Lieb's Island on South Bank Road that allows easy entry onto Buckeye Lake's water surface. Boat rentals are also offered within the park if visitors do not have their own vessel.

In addition to traditional rod-and-reel methods, bowfishing is permitted as well during daylight hours only with longbow or compound bows; crossbows however aren't allowed.

Ice fishing becomes popular when conditions permit safe ice formation over winter months but it should always be done with caution due to varying thickness across different parts of this large body of water.

Fishing tournaments often take place throughout warmer seasons providing competitive opportunities for serious fishermen/women visiting Buckeye Lake State Park too!

Several picnic areas with tables and grills are situated in quiet spots overlooking the lake. Shelters are available on a first come, first served basis.
While exploring the area, one can enjoy a leisurely bike ride along several miles of flat and paved trails. However, it's important to note that there are no dedicated biking paths within this location.

The park does not offer bicycle rentals so visitors must bring their own equipment. Always remember safety first; helmets are strongly recommended for all cyclists.

It is also crucial to be mindful of pedestrians sharing these multi-use pathways as well as local wildlife which may occasionally cross your path unexpectedly.

During peak season or weekends, expect more foot traffic on the trails making cycling conditions potentially crowded at times.

Remember too that weather conditions could impact trail quality - always check forecasts before setting out on any outdoor adventure!
1. North Shore Trail: A 4-mile trail that offers stunning views of the lake, with a variety of flora and fauna to observe along its path. The terrain is relatively flat but can be muddy after rain.

2. Fairfield Beach Multi-Use Pathway: This paved pathway stretches for about two miles, offering an easy hike suitable for all ages and fitness levels while providing panoramic vistas over Buckeye Lake's shimmering waters.

3. Sellers Point Loop Trail: An approximately one mile looped track through dense woodland areas teeming with wildlife such as deer, squirrels, rabbits and various bird species; perfect spot for nature photography enthusiasts or those seeking solitude in nature's embrace.

4. Cranberry Bog Nature Preserve Trails: These trails offer hikers unique opportunities to explore Ohio's only floating island - home to rare plant species like cranberries & orchids - via boardwalks built above marshy grounds ensuring minimal disturbance on this fragile ecosystem yet allowing close-up encounters with these exotic plants.

5. great Egret Marsh Reserve Hiking Trails: Located at the northern end of Buckeye Lake State Park,these trails meander around wetlands attracting numerous migratory birds making it a paradise for bird watchers especially during spring migration season.

6. Buckeye Scenic Bike Route: Though primarily designed as bike route,this scenic 26 mile long asphalt-paved trail also welcomes walkers who wish enjoy leisurely strolls amidst picturesque landscapes featuring rolling farmlands,vineyards,lush green fields dotted by wildflowers blooming in different seasons.

7. Historic Canal Lock Site Walking Tour: For history buffs interested exploring remnants from past era when canal transportation was prevalent mode transport .This self-guided walking tour takes you across several preserved lock sites complete information boards detailing their historical significance.

8. Fishing Pier Walkways: A series short walkways leading towards fishing piers scattered throughout park.These paths not just provide access prime spots for angling but also offer tranquil views over lake's calm waters especially during sunrise or sunset hours.

9. Picnic Point Nature Trail: A short, easy trail leading to a secluded picnic area with stunning panoramic views of the Buckeye Lake; perfect spot for family outings and picnics amidst nature's bounty.

10. Wildflower Meadow Path: This less-trodden path takes you through open meadows bursting colors from wildflowers blooming in different seasons - an absolute delight botany enthusiasts or anyone seeking immerse themselves into vibrant natural beauty.
Buckeye Lake State Park in Ohio offers a variety of birding options for enthusiasts. The park is home to numerous species, including waterfowl like ducks and geese, as well as songbirds such as warblers and sparrows. It also hosts several types of raptors like hawks and eagles.

The lake itself attracts many aquatic birds while the surrounding woodlands provide habitat for forest-dwelling species. There are multiple trails throughout the park that offer excellent opportunities for bird watching.

In addition to self-guided exploration, Buckeye Lake often holds organized birdwatching events led by local experts who can help identify different species.

Overall, with its diverse habitats ranging from open waters to dense forests along with an array of avian life makes it a popular destination among both novice and experienced birders alike.
Area Attractions
Hebron Fish Hatchery is located just north of Buckeye Lake on Canal Road. Administered by the ODNR Division of Wildlife, the area is open to the public. The ponds, trails and woodlots at the area provide excellent bird-watching opportunities. Over 250 species of birds have been recorded at the hatchery.

Dawes Arboretum is a non-profit private foundation engaged in scientific education in horticulture, natural history and arboretum history. The arboretum is open from dawn to dusk everyday except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. Dawes is located on S.R. 13 just north of I-70 near the east-end of Buckeye Lake. For information call 614-323-1255.

Other local attractions include Flint Ridge Memorial and Moundbuilders Park in Newark, both operated by the Ohio Historical Society.

Visitor Comments, Memories and Reviews
August 20 Scuba Diving by Greg F
park review stars; one to five I think you need to check the web page. You say SCUBA DIVING Scuba diving is allowed. The lake is nearly two foot deep in places. - but I think the lake is WAY OVER 2 FEET in most places Did you mean a different number Or are you trying to point out the shallow places
November 11 Project Complete by Momma Boo
park review stars; one to five The dam project is complete and all is back to the way it was.
October 8 by Bob
park review stars; one to five
write a review read more reviews
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Area Campgrounds
Buckeye Lake Estates
4135 Walnut Road
Hebron, OH
Rippling Stream Campground
3640 Reynoldsburg Baltimore Road Northwest
Baltimore, OH
Buckeye Lake / Columbus East KOA Holiday
4460 Walnut Road
Buckeye Lake, OH
Lazy River At Granville
2340 Dry Creek Road, N.E.
Granville, OH
Area Fishing Related Businesses
Newark Live Bait
57 Western Ave
Newark, OH
(740) 349-7310
Bob's Outdoor Supply
233 Union St
Newark, OH
(740) 349-0992
Millersport Bait & Tackle
12325 Lancaster St
Millersport, OH
(740) 467-2707
Farquhar & Steinbaugh Hunting & Fishing Supplies
116 Union St
Newark, OH
(740) 344-6200
Fishing: Walmart #1594
911 Hebron Rd
Heath, OH
(740) 522-5841
Area Accommodations (over 20 miles away)
businesss listing main photo
Cottages and Cabins
Trickle Creek offers luxury cabins in Hocking Hills. The cabins are situated on nearly 236 acres of secluded cabin rentals in the deep wooded ravines in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in Hocking County, Ohio.
23.7 miles from park*
businesss listing main photo
Hidden Cave Cabin - Rockbridge, OH
Cottages and Cabins
Hidden Cave Cabin is an authentic log cabin with 2 bedrooms in a private wooded setting. It is located on one of the most scenic drives in Hocking Hills and just 3.6 miles to Rock House and less than 10 miles to Conkle's Hollow and Old Man's Cave.
28.2 miles from park*
Nearby Hotels

2905 Liebs Island Road, Millersport, OH 43046

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Ohio State Parks