The 25 Best State Parks in Ohio

By Lisa Medeiros May 21, 2021
(Credit: Jennifer Stone/Shutterstock)

With 75 state parks to choose from, Ohio visitors are never far from scenic hikes, sparkling lakes and untamed rivers. These parks offer year-round outdoor recreation free of charge, with activities ranging from fishing and kayaking in the summer to cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter months. To help choose the best park for your travel needs, we’ve assessed visitor reviews, park activities and distinguishing features to deliver the 25 best state parks in Ohio. 

1. Hocking Hills State Park

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The Best State Parks in Ohio: Hocking Hills State Park (Credit: Kenneth Keifer/Shutterstock)

Hours: Open daily from dawn to dusk year-round with overnight camping available
Admission: Free

With a 25-mile trail system, Hocking Hills State Park is a hiker’s paradise. Its landscape was shaped by 300 million years of wind and water erosion, treating hikers to intriguing rock formations, cascading waterfalls and hidden caves along their route. After a long hike within this 2,000-acre park, cool off by swimming in one of the park’s two lakes. Overnight guests can choose from 200 campsites, many offering plumbing facilities and electric hookups. Wintertime activities include ice fishing, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. 

2. Geneva State Park

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The Best State Parks in Ohio: Geneva State Park (Credit: Mark K./Flickr)

Hours: Open year-round for daily use 6 am to 11 pm with overnight camping available
Admission: Free

Located on the shores of Lake Erie, Geneva State Park boasts 698 acres of parkland to experience. Along with six miles of multi-use trails, the park offers a two-mile paved path presenting scenic lake views. Additional amenities include an outdoor pool, several picnic areas and a marina for your motorized boat, kayak, or canoe. Anglers know Lake Erie is the spot for catching walleye, perch, catfish and trout. 

3. Mohican State Park

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The Best State Parks in Ohio: Mohican State Park (Credit: April DeBord/Shutterstock)

Hours: Open year-round for daily use 6 am to 11 pm with overnight camping available
Admission: Free

Centrally located within the state and surrounded by Mohican-Memorial State Forest, Mohican State Park overflows with geological treasures and outdoor adventures. Top attractions within this 1,100-acre park include Clear Fort Gorge, a 29-acre nature preserve of old grove trees, along with Big and Little Lyons Falls, a pair of low-flowing waterfalls featured along the Lyons Falls Trail. With 13 miles of hiking trails, more than eight miles of mountain bike routes and 88 miles of bridle paths, Mohican State Park offers plenty of ways to explore. In addition to park trails, water activities include fishing and tubing on the Mohican River. 

4. Alum Creek State Park

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The Best State Parks in Ohio: Alum Creek State Park (Credit: Tara Ballard/Shutterstock)

Hours: Open year-round for daily use 6 am to 11 pm with overnight camping available
Admission: Free

This central Ohio state park provides beach-goers with 3,000 feet of Alum Creek Lake shores. This man-made reservoir encompasses five square miles open to fishing, boating and swimming. Along with water sports, Alum Creek State Park boasts 38 miles of bridle trails, seven miles of hiking trails and 14 miles of mountain biking trails within its 4,630-acre park. Winter visitors can partake in sledding, ice fishing and cross-country skiing. 

5. Delaware State Park

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The Best State Parks in Ohio: Delaware State Park (Credit: jinjian liang/Flickr)

Hours: Open year-round for daily use 6 am to 11 pm with overnight camping available
Admission: Free

Within its 1,686 areas of parkland in central Ohio, Delaware State Park features an 800-foot-long sandy public beach along its reservoir shores. Visitors can access the boat launch to cruise this 1,300-acre man-made lake, while anglers can fish for crappie, muskie and bass. Spend time exploring the park’s woodlands and meadows via its five hiking trails suitable for all skill levels. This year-round park offers cold-weather activities as well, from ice fishing to sledding to cross-country skiing. 

6. Salt Fork State Park

Rolling
The Best State Parks in Ohio: Salt Fork State Park (Credit: J. Stephen Conn/Flickr)

Hours: Open year-round for daily use 6 am to 11 pm with overnight camping available
Admission: Free

The largest state park in Ohio, Salt Fork State Park comprises 17,229 acres and includes a nearly 3,000-acre lake. Located in eastern Ohio, outdoor adventurers can hike along 14 trails past forested hills, spacious meadows and babbling brooks. Along with scenic treks, Salt Fork State Park provides plenty of boating and swimming opportunities. And during certain times of the year, the park allows hunting for deer, rabbit and wild turkey. There’s even an 18-hole golf course on-site. Meanwhile, history buffs can take a guided tour of the Kennedy Stone House, a family homestead built in 1837.

7. Kelleys Island State Park

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The Best State Parks in Ohio: Kelleys Island State Park (Credit: James St. John/Flickr)

Hours: Open year-round for daily use 6 am to 11 pm with overnight camping available
Admission: Free

Board a ferry from Marblehead in Northern Ohio, for a 20-minute Lake Erie cruise to Kelleys Island, where Kelleys Island State Park occupies 677 acres, or a quarter of the island. Visitors can relax on the sandy beaches, launch a motorized watercraft from the double-lane boat ramp or rent kayaks. In addition, the park offers three family-friendly hiking trails all under five miles, and campgrounds are available for overnight guests. 

8. John Bryan State Park

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The Best State Parks in Ohio: John Bryan State Park (Credit: arthurgphotography/Shutterstock)

Hours: Open year-round for daily use 6 am to 11 pm with overnight camping available
Admission: Free

Encompassing 752 acres in western Ohio, John Bryan State Park’s main attraction is its limestone gorge, carved by the Little Miami State River. The gorge features waterfalls and rock formations, which can be viewed from the park’s 10 hiking trails. Young hikers will appreciate Storybook Trail, where a children’s nature story is depicted on podiums dotted along this half-mile path. In addition to abundant hiking opportunities, John Bryan State Park offers a launch area for canoers and kayakers to access the Little Miami River. Visitors can also cast a reel and fish for bass along the river’s shores.

9. Scioto Trail State Park

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The Best State Parks in Ohio: Scioto Trail State Park (Credit: ehrlif/Shutterstock)

Hours: Open year-round for daily use 6 am to 11 pm with overnight camping available
Admission: Free

Nestled within the Scioto Trail Forest sits Scioto Trail State Park. This quiet, 218-acre oasis provides ample canoeing and kayaking opportunities on its two 15-acre lakes. Paddleboat rentals are available on both Lake Caldwell and Lake Stuart, while a small unguarded wading beach is found on Lake Caldwell. There are three trails for hikers and bikers to traverse, along with a family-friendly 0.4-mile Friendship Trail. 

10. Maumee Bay State Park

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The Best State Parks in Ohio: Maumee Bay State Park (Credit: Juli V/Shutterstock)

Hours: Open year-round for daily use 6 am to 11 pm with overnight camping available
Admission: Free

Water activities are the main allure at Maumee Bay State Park, located on the shores of Lake Erie just east of Toledo. Along with access to the Great Lake, this 1,336-acre state park boasts a 57-acre inland lake. The interior lake is suitable for non-motorized watercraft and welcomes sailboats, canoes and kayaks. With sandy beaches on both Lake Erie and the inland lake, beachcombers have two sandy beach locations to choose from. Along with abundant water activities, the park provides five trails that lead hikers  through wetlands, swamps and marshland. 

See the full list of the 25 best state parks in Ohio

1. Hocking Hills State Park
2. Geneva State Park
3. Mohican State Park
4. Alum Creek State Park
5. Delaware State Park
6. Salt Fork State Park
7. Kelleys Island State Park
8. John Bryan State Park
9. Scioto Trail State Park
10. Maumee Bay State Park
11. Catawba Island State Park
12. Rocky Fork Lake State Park
13. East Harbor State Park
14. Hueston Woods State Park
15. Headlands Beach State Park
16. West Branch State Park
17. Great Seal State Park
18. Cowan Lake State Park
19. Indian Lake State Park
20. Middle Bass Island State Park
21. Oak Point State Park
22. Lake Hope State Park
23. Grand Lakes St. Mary’s State Park
24. Guilford Lake State Park
25. Beaver Creek State Park

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