PAINT CREEK STATE PARK
Located amid the breathtaking scenery of the Paint Creek Valley, Paint Creek State Park features a large lake with fine fishing, boating and swimming opportunities. A modern campground and meandering trails invite outdoor enthusiasts to explore and enjoy the rolling hills and streams of this scenic area.
The Paint Creek region lies at the very edge of the Appalachian Plateau. This escarpment marks the boundary between the hilly eastern section of the state and the flatter western portions. Most of the plateau in southeastern Ohio was never reached by glaciers, although the Paint Creek area bears evidence of glacial activity. One stream near the park, Rocky Fork Creek, was blocked by glacial ice and reversed direction, rapidly cutting the 75-foot gorge seen today. Sullivantia, an extremely rare wildflower in Ohio, blooms in the gorge in mid-summer.
Nearby Highlands Nature Sanctuary once home of the popular 20th century nature park known as The Seven Caves is located 50 feet above Rocky Fork Creek. The caves are not open to the public, protecting the habitat and resident bat population. However, visitors will find trails and the Appalachian Forest Museum at the site.
Before Paint Creek was impounded to form a reservoir, the creek valley was unrivaled in the state for scenic beauty and its display of wildflowers. Some of this unspoiled land yet remains above the still waters of the lake. Wild geranium, jewelweed, yarrow and Queen Anne's lace can be found blooming in the woodlands and meadows of the park.
The reservoir provides habitat for numerous waterfowl and shorebirds as well as the great blue heron. Osprey and bald eagles have been sighted over the lake. The limestone outcroppings on the lake's edge provide nesting habitat for the cliff swallow. Other songbirds, raccoons, white-tailed deer and the elusive wild turkey inhabit the park.
We are not the first to recognize the richness and beauty of this land. Prehistoric Indian cultures built a variety of earthworks throughout the region, while the Shawnee Indians considered the Paint Valley home.
Conflicts often arose between the original holders of the Ohio country and the white settlers invading from the east. A Shawnee named Waw-will-a-way became a victim of this strife when he was unjustly accused of scalping a white man. This Indian encountered three white men in the Paint Valley bent on revenge for the scalping. They shot him in the chest, yet he killed one and severely wounded the other two before he succumbed. His funeral pyre laid at the peaceful confluence of the Paint and Rattlesnake creeks.
The waters of the creeks provided a source of power for early mills. Grinding grain, processing wool and sawing wood were all facilitated by the waters flowing over dams constructed in the creeks. Many of the original dams were made of only earth and wood and were washed out by annual floods. One such mill, Crawford's Mill, was built at a place later called Hewitt's Crossing on Paint Creek. The site now lies beneath the waters of the reservoir.
Construction of the dam on Paint Creek started in 1967, and the site was dedicated as a state park in 1972.
Nearby Wildlife Areayes
Hiking Trail, miles8
Swimming Beach, feet1,000
Mountain Bike Trails, miles14
Bridle Trails, miles25
Boating LimitsUnlimited HP
Seasonal Dock Rental75
Launch Ramps, #3
Fuel For Saleyes
CampingElectric Sites, #196
Camper Cabins, #2
Horsemen Campsites, #10
The park offers a challenging and permanent 21-hole disc golf course with a few open holes but mostly woodsy. Some of the more beautiful holes go through lines of older, tall pine trees with a pine straw floor. The course length is 6,044' with DJSCatcher targets and concrete tees.
The scenic hilltop campground at Paint Creek has 197 sites equipped with electricity. The campground features hot showers, flush toilets, laundry facilities and a dump station. Two Camper Cabins that sleep 4 are available to rent during the summer months by reservation. All site are pet friendly. A primitive horseman's camp is available for riders who bring their own mounts.
A primitive horseman's camp is available for riders who bring their own mounts. Self-contained units are permitted.
Reservations must be made before arriving at the park by calling 1-866-644-6727 or online at www.reserveohio.com.
A large 1,000-foot sand beach provides enjoyment for swimmers and sunbathers.
Unlimited horsepower boating is permitted on Paint Creek. Three launch ramps provide access to the lake. Boat rentals, fuel and seasonal dock rentals are offered.
Anglers will enjoy good catches of saugeye, bluegill, bass, channel flathead catfish and crappie. The tailwater below the dam offer some of the states best saugeye fishing.