Description - West Branch State Park in Portage County is situated on the glaciated plateau of northeastern Ohio and located on the west branch of the Mahoning River. Huge ice blocks broke free from the glaciers and kettle lakes formed as the blocks melted. Eventually, these lakes filled with sediment leaving boggy wetlands with unique assemblages of plants.
Copyright: - Ohio Department of Natural Resources
West Branch State Park
In 1965, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completed construction of the Michael J. Kirwan Reservoir. The reservoir was developed for flood control, water supply, recreation and fish and wildlife management. West Branch State Park was formally opened in 1966.
- In conjunction with the Michael J. Kirwan Reservoir, West Branch State Park offers the outdoor enthusiast an expansive palette of recreation. The huge 5,352-acre lake is the central attraction where people come for the day or an extended visit.
There are 103 non-electric sites in both sunny and shaded areas. Some sites are along the lake with boat tie-ups. A group camp is available for organizations up to sixty people.
Picnic areas are situated in scenic locations around the lake. Six different picnic shelters are available for use on a first-come, first-served basis. Visitors will find individual tables scattered in high-use areas including areas alongside launch ramps.
The lake stretches over seven miles and offers many forks and coves with miles of shoreline. The lake is designated for unlimited horsepower. Boat rentals, gasoline and supplies are available at the marina. Four launch ramps provide access to the lake. Dock rentals are on a seasonal basis. A no-wake zone extends 300 feet from all shorelines. The entire area west of Rock Spring Road causeway is also a no-wake zone. Year-round fishing at West Branch offers large and smallmouth bass, walleye, crappie, bluegill, catfish and trophy-class muskellunge. Fishing access is available at two paved and two gravel launch areas as well as numerous shoreline access points that are easily spotted as you travel park roads. A valid Ohio fishing license is required. The expansive 700-foot sand beach offers plenty of parking, picnic shelter, a showerhouse, and concession. Adjacent to the beach is an area where boaters may drop anchor and use the facilities.
An extensive trail system has been developed at West Branch. More than twelve miles of hiking trails provide access to the natural world. A portion of the state's Buckeye Trail passes through the park. The park offers extensive snowmobile trails when conditions permit. Trail starts at the west boat ramp. Twenty miles of bridle trails traverse woodlands and meadows. Riders must provide their own horses. A horse camp is open by permit only.
Traveling beyond the west boat ramp, visitors can reach the Michael J. Kirwan dam. Tours of the dam facility are offered. Joggers and motorists alike enjoy the dam road that offers expansive lake views from this position. Also, just beyond the dam is the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers visitor center that distributes statewide recreation information, bird watching habitat, a picnic shelter and restrooms.
West Branch State Park is open for hunting, in season, with small game, waterfowl and deer being most common. The northeastern section of the park, which is bound on the west by Rockspring Road and on the south by the lakeshore, is closed to hunting. This no-hunting area includes the park office, camp area, horse camp, dam and East Boat Ramp. A 400-foot no hunting / safety zone extends from all other developed facilities. Hunting is limited to shotguns and primitive weapons for most game. A valid Ohio hunting license is required. Contact the park office for details. Target shooting is prohibited.
Recreation - With 5,532 acres of land and 2,650 acres of water, recreations abound at West Branch State Park. There is even a half-mile of river frontage. Visitors enjoy fishing, hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, picnicking, lake swimming, nature study, unlimited boating, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, ice fishing, and ice boating. As of this writing, Fall 2001, the expansive campground is closed for renovations. Typically, the park offers family camping, group camping, pet and horse camping.
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.
West Branch State Park is located in northeast Ohio just east of Ravenna. The dam facilities and park may be reached by traveling either State Route 14 or 5.