Posted On: Feb 26, 2021
Whether your neighborhood is urban, suburban or rural, your next outdoor excursion is just a short drive away. From the shores of Lake Erie to the rugged terrain of the Mohican region, Ohio's state park system offers a diverse range of landscapes and activities.
Whether you're craving a relaxing weekend, adrenaline-pumping adventure or something in-between, there's something for everyone at Ohio State Parks. Once you begin exploring you may not want to leave, but good news: with affordable cabins and lodges you can easily turn an afternoon escape into a weekend getaway.
Plan Ahead: It's never too early to start planning. ODNR recommends booking cabin reservations several months in advance, especially for summer or fall visits. Depending on the time of year, lodge reservations allow for more spontaneity; for last minute planning, consider a mid-week stay. To make lodge and cabin reservations visit greatohiolodges.com or call 800-At-A-Park. For camping and more cabin reservations, visit reserveohio.com.
Beach days aren't just for trips to the southern states. Plan a day of freshwater fun in northwest Ohio.
Located on the shores of Lake Erie, just 20 minutes from Toledo, Maumee Bay State Park beckons visitors with easygoing outdoor activities. Book a night in a private cabin or stay in the lodge with rooms that overlook the lake and offer access to indoor and outdoor pools.
On sunny weekends, pack a swimsuit and a good book for a day on the park’s swimming beaches. Venture onto the water with a boat rental or stick to land and bike along paved paths.
Meander through marshes teeming with wildlife by following a boardwalk. The path lets you get close to nature and is fully accessible for new hikers, families pushing strollers and visitors who use mobility aids. For an interactive experience, walk the Storybook Trail where creative stories unfold as you explore.
According to Maumee Bay naturalist Lauren Broddrick, you're likely to see deer, foxes and even turtles along the trails. To see Broddrick’s favorite creatures — turn your gaze to the sky. During spring and fall, colorful birds flock to the park.
Lake Erie Birding Trail: Maumee Bay's landscape, especially the wetlands, provides a stop-over during spring and fall migrations. More than 300 bird species have been documented at the state park. Colorful neo-tropical species can be seen during spring and a variety of shore birds and waterfowl during fall. Learn More.
"It's pretty amazing," says Maumee Bay naturalist Lauren Broddrick, "the birds are so focused on fueling up for migration, they don't care that people are watching them." She adds that you don't need experience or equipment to enjoy this connection with nature.
More to See: Travel further east along Lake Erie and visit the Island parks. Learn about shoreside history at Marblehead Lighthouse State Park. Experience a different view of Lake Erie by staying on the far eastern shore at The Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake, in the heart of Ohio's wine-country.
Relax and Rejuvenate
Immersing yourself in nature doesn't have to mean battling the elements. When you visit Punderson State Park in Newbury, Ohio, you can stay in a cozy English Tudor-style manor, while still having access to beautiful trails and a 150-acre glacial lake. The lodge, with its charming historic décor, will quickly feel like a home away from home. Some rooms offer distinctive features, giving the lodge the atmosphere of a quaint bed & breakfast. Furnished two-bedroom cabins including pet-friendly units are also available for a comfortable escape into nature.
Enjoy a peaceful walk on the boardwalk or try a moderate-level trek through the rolling countryside. There's lots to see, but you'll want to put Punderson Lake at the top of your list. Enjoy the view or take part in swimming, fishing and boating. Outdoor fun continues with disc golf and matches on the championship-rated golf course – notorious for its demanding, but beautiful terrain.
As the seasons change, Punderson remains a perfect spot for a relaxing weekend. Bundle up and enjoy fresh snow, as walking trails become paths for cross-country skiing, sledding, and snowmobiling. Then warm up by the cozy fireplace in the lodge.
Bring Fido Along: If your furry friends are on a leash, they're welcome at Ohio State Park areas such as campground sites, trails and picnic areas. A number of our deluxe cabins also offer pet-friendly units. Remember, family pets are not welcome at swimming beaches, nature preserves, or inside buildings.
Know Before You Go: Trying a park for the first time? Check out the park’s facilities by visiting ohiostateparks.gov or the park’s Facebook page. Watch videos on ODNR's YouTube channel. Still have questions? Call the park office — ODNR staff will help you plan a great getaway!
More to See: Find more lake activities at Pymatuning State Park in Ashtabula County and Mosquito Lake State Park in Cortland. Explore trails on foot, horseback or bike at Ravenna's West Branch State Park. Pack a picnic and eat near the scenic quarry or wander the natural rock formations at Nelson-Kennedy Ledges State Park in Garrettsville.
Follow winding roads through a forest of towering hemlocks, past sandstone cliffs and the 300-foot-deep Clearfork Gorge, and you'll quickly discover why adventurous souls flock to Mohican State Park in Loudonville. There's no shortage of exciting ways to explore this unique landscape.
"The Mohican region offers both relaxing and rugged outdoor activities," says Josh Gardner, ODNR central district manager. "Boating, fishing, hiking, horseback riding and biking are all just a short ride (or walk) away from Mohican's lodge or cabins."
Grab a canoe and cruise down the Mohican River, fun for first timers and paddling pros alike. Explore on two-wheels by attempting the 25-mile Mohican Mountain Bike Trail — the only Ohio attraction to earn an "epic" rating from the International Mountain Bicycling Association. Trot the trails on horseback on one of the many bridle paths. Even sticking to your own two feet is an adventure on this terrain. The Hogwash Trail takes you to the 125-foot high fire tower for an aerial view of the park. The Little Lyons Falls Trail guides you towards natural waterfalls, as beautiful frozen in the winter as they are flowing in spring.
Stay the weekend and try it all. For a down-to-earth experience, reserve a private cabin in wooded seclusion along the banks of the Mohican State Scenic River. For access to indoor and outdoor pools, games, and a lounge, book a room at Mohican Lodge.
Leave No Trace: Visitors are encouraged to minimize their impact on Ohio’s natural landscapes. Please put litter in its place or practice "carry in, carry out" when waste receptacles aren't available.
More to See: Take a short drive to nearby Malabar Farm State Park. Learn about the park's history of 1930s Hollywood visitors and sustainable farming at the former home of writer Louis Bromfield. Visit during early spring to witness maple syrup production and greet baby animals at the working farm.