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East Fork State Park

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East Fork State Park
Copyright: - Ohio Department of Natural Resources
East Fork State Park
Description - Clermont County's rolling hills and meandering river valleys provide a colorful backdrop for spacious East Fork State Park. Shaped by the forces of the Illinoian and Wisconsinan glaciers, the East Fork region is characterized by beautiful hill country scenery and is noted for the occurrence of remnant prairie habitats. Illinoian glacial deposits are not common in Ohio but can be observed at East Fork and the surrounding area.

East Fork's diverse landscape includes dry-forested hills, rocky cascades, abandoned farmlands, thickly grown floodplains, marshy grasslands and swamp forests. This diversity lends well to an abundance of plant and animal life. Woodlands are composed of beech, sugar maple, red and white oak, shagbark hickory, and wild black cherry. The swamp forests contain silver maple, American elm, sycamore, and black gum. The meadows and remnant prairies contain big bluestem grass and purple coneflower among others. Animals of the area include eastern plains garter snake, fence lizard, red fox, deer, raccoon, Canada geese, song sparrow, eastern meadowlark, and the barn swallow.

Attractions - East Fork State Park has one of the largest camping areas in the state with 416 sites. The campground offers electrical hookups, showers, drinking water, camper's beach, flush toilets and boat ramps. Pets are permitted in designated areas. A 17-site equestrian camp is available as well. Six Rent-A-Camp units consisting of a tent, dining fly, cooler, cook stove and other equipment can be rented during the summer months. Six Rent-A-RV units are also available.

For the hiker and backpacker, the 12-mile Backpack Trail traverses many scenic park areas. In addition, the 37-mile Steven Newman Worldwalker Perimeter Trail circles the park and is available for hikers, backpackers, and horseback riders. Four primitive campsites are located along these trails. Permits for their use are available through the park office. For those less adventuresome, shorter trails are easily accessible. A 5-mile mountain bike trail begins just west of the park entrance on S.R. 125.

Those who enjoy water sports East Fork Reservoir, built in 1978 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, is very accommodating. There are 2,160 acres of water and unlimited horsepower boating with access available at five launch ramps. The lake offers quality fishing with excellent catches of largemouth and smallmouth bass, bluegill, and crappie. Other fishing opportunities exist along East Fork, which is stocked with the Hybrid Striper.

A 1,200-foot swimming beach with a concession and picnic area provides the perfect setting for a fun family outing. Picnic areas with tables, grills and drinking water are located around the park. Two picnic shelters are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Hunting is permitted in designated areas only. Valid Ohio hunting and fishing licenses are required.

Recreation - Specific activities enjoyed at East Fork include picnicking, camping, mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding, fishing, swimming, hunting, sledding, ice fishing, ice skating, and cross-country skiing.

Climate - This state has four distinct seasons and a brilliant fall foliage display in it southern woods during mid October. Winter lasts from December through February with average temperatures near 25 degrees F. Low temperatures dip to single digits, but do not often drop below zero. Northern regions of the state receive average snowfall amounts of 55 inches, while the central and southern regions of the state receive lesser amounts with averages near 30 inches. This difference is caused by lake-affect moisture patterns.

Spring temperatures begin to warm the landscapes of Ohio by mid March and are in full swing by April. Temperatures range from 40 through 70 degrees F through the spring months. This season often brings the most rainfall, before the drying heat of summer. Summer can be extremely hot and humid in the interior of Ohio. Temperatures reach above 90 degrees F frequently through July and August. Cooler fall temperatures don't reach the region until mid to late September. This is a pleasant time to visit as the air is crisp with low humidity levels. Ohio's annual precipitation usually reaches slightly above 50 inches.

Location - East Fork State Park is found in southwestern Ohio on the outskirts of Cincinnati off State Route 125.

Current Conditions & Trip Reports

Trip Reports:
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Filed By: (Lake Orion, MI)
Number of People Encountered: 11-25 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Not Recommended
Report: Hiked the perimeter trail April, 2012. This is a nice park, and the backpack trails are not bad for a day hike or overnight. I would visit them again. The perimeter trail is an equestrian trail and is a mudfest for hikers. Unless there has been a long dry spell, expect to slog through the mud or have to blaze your own trail- neither option makes for good hiking. In addition, the trail is not well marked in areas and it is easy to get off the trail onto the wrong trail. Proper trail maintenance and good blazed would really help. Finally, there is more trash on the trail than any other trail I've been on for some time. A real disappointment. I am a regular hiker, and 45 mile 3 or 4 day trips are not unusual for my son and I. In the end, because of the horse traffic and the state of the trail, I would not re- hike the Newman Perimeter trail. It simply is not a quality hiking trail that will leave you feeling positive about the trip.

Filed By: Jason
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Neutral
Report: Hiked the perimeter trail on 3 trips in 2009. Horses have ruined this trial for hikers. About 50% is slogging through shin deep mud unless you choose to bushwhack beside the trail. The campsites are fine until the local kids come down to party. Limited water, at least that I trusted to filter. If you are looking for a walk in the woods don't do it. If you want a challenge go for it. Trails are sometimes hard to follow due to limited marking and either poorly defined trails or many trails intersecting. Am I glad I did it? Yes. Will I do it again? Doubtful.

Filed By: ree cee (cincinnati, OH)
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: The North side of the park has the most number of trails and all of the horse designated bridle paths. IF you're looking for peace and quiet try the north entrance, no mountain bikers whizzing within inches of you. You may find a pile or two of horse biscuits but at least you cann't hear the highway. My fav is the Red Fox trail. About 5 miles or so with absolutely stunning views of Harsha lake. I found free individual trail descriptions at http://trailmeister.com/MAP_OH_Eastfork.htm Hope this review helps. East Fork is a great park mostly because it's so close to Cincinnati.

Filed By: Clinton Johnson (Batavia, OH)
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: I've spent a lot of time on the official backpacking trail and I've enjoyed it a lot. While I don't think that I've ever made it to the end where it loops at camp site number two, this could be due to the hideous map that is provided by the park service. While they say that you are only allowed to camp at designated spots only, I've yet to see any designation marking an area as a camp site (site#1 with the shelters was the closest Ive seen to "official".) I've gone running on the world walker trail that goes around the lake, but after an hour of dodging horse piles and poorly marked trails (almost getting lost at one point near the campground), I don;t know that I will ever attempt to backpack that trail. I strongly suggest taking making a two day, or an easy three day trip out of the backpacking trail that starts out on the south side of the lake along with the mountainbike parking. The further you go, the prettier it gets. (Although you never really feel like you are out too far as you can always hear cars and motorcycles on the nearby roads.) I strongly recommend a topo map and a gps unit. If you skip on that, definately get the piece of junk map from the ranger station and take a compass!

Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: Seven-year-old and I just spent two nights at primitive Camp #1, about 30 minutes from trailhead along Backpacker Trail. First stop was at office to take out free permit. Single ranger in office was very nice and started things off on a good foot. He did tell us that Camp #3 was destroyed by vandals and Camp #4 was destroyed in a fire, so keep that in mind when planning! About 100 feet past office we found road on left to bike and backpack trail parking lot. Packs on and off we went! We have had a week free of rain but the trail was still quite muddy at times, so I can certainly see where earlier reviewers found everything mud-covered. You can easily see where large portions of the trail are essentially miniature rivers during any measurable rain...ruts, washouts, etc. The number of exposed roots is incredible, so watch your step continually! Camp #1 is simply a small clearing with a fire ring...no structures of any kind. It appears that there were at least two other interconnected clearings at one time but all are overgrown and only a small path still connects them. BTW, there is a 25' wide stream that intersects the trail to Camp #1 and is only about 200 feet from the camp itself. My son had a ball playing around the stream, skipping rocks and generally exploring. Very little water flow when we were there but you can tell with a good rain that it would fill up quickly. Water in stream is a little nasty but could be due to low level when we were there...you can tell in about a month it's going to be mosquito central. Speaking of water, be sure to either bring enough of your own or a good filter for the stream water. The park office is only about a 30 minute hike back from Camp #1 but is not open on weekends and there is no external water fountain, tap or garden hose to use to refill. On the wildlife front, only animal we saw was literally a misplaced housecat in the woods one night. Our campsite WAS stalked by what I am pretty sure was at least 1-2 raccoons at night, so be sure to hang your food! And, we did hear what distinctly sounded like a bobcat one evening. Disappointments? It seemed no matter how far we hiked we could still hear cars from the highway! They were especially noticeable when going to sleep at night. Really distracts from the sounds of the forest. And, the scenery varies little. Overall would recommend for 1-2 night stay if you are totally self-sufficient from a supplies standpoint and don't want to get too far from civilization.

Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Not Recommended
Report: The perimeter trail at East Fork is not fun. It is sadistic. If you enjoy hiking mile after mile through muddy, water-filled, mosquito-infested horse tracks, where nearly every step is a difficult task, then by all means, hike the perimeter trail. Of course, my opinion was formed just from the hike to Camp #2 and a bit past... maybe things get better after that. The only problem is that I did not bring a topo map of the area, and the green blazes are few and far between. There will be tons of them when you are on an easily recognizable path, but when you come to a fork, when you really need a blaze to know which way to go, there are none to be seen. The reason I turned around after one night was the fact that I could not find the trail past where I camped. I tried and ended up in someone's back yard. Then I tried some more and ended up in their front yard. The trail won this battle. I'm just not stubborn enough to hike 32 miles of muddy hoof prints with nothing but intuition to guide me. But hey, if you are, then get on out to East Fork and hit the perimeter trail.

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More Information

Contact Information:
East Fork State Park, P.O. Box 119 , Bethel, OH, 45106, Phone: 513-734-4323

Additional Information:
Ohio Lakes and Reservoirs - Ohio has more than 2,500 lakes and 44,000 miles of rivers and streams. Lake Erie, the southernmost Great Lake, is a major recreation attraction.
Ohio State Parks and Forests - Great outdoor adventure begins in Ohio at one of the 20 state forests or one of the 73 award-winning state park sites.
Southwest Ohio - Discover the richness of the Southwest Travel Region exhibited at the Dayton Aviation Heritage NHP or William Howard Taft NHS, restored home of the only person to serve as both President and Chief Justice of the United States.

East Fork State Park - Official agency website.
Ohio State Parks - Official Agency Website


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