Description - Surrounded by the lush, green farmland of northern Ohio, the Michael J. Kirwan Dam provides miles of clean waters and scenic countryside for your enjoyment.
Copyright: Patty Elton - Interactive Outdoors, Inc.
Information, bird viewing area and restrooms welcome you to Kirwan Lake
Authorized by the flood control act of 1958 and completed in 1965, Michael J. Kirwan Dam impounds the West Branch of the Mahoning River. Kirwan Dam provides flood protection and has prevented flood damages in excess of $75 million. The dam stores water for release downstream during dry periods. This has the effect of improving both the quality and quantity of flow in the Mahoning River for domestic and industrial use, recreation, esthetics, and aquatic life.
The lake which the dam has created, and its surrounding lands are leased by the Corps of Engineers to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources as West Branch State Park. Visitors to the park will find numerous, well maintained facilities available for their enjoyment.
- Together, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources offer the visitor a wide range of outdoor recreations, many of which are water-related. There is unlimited HP boating, waterskiing, tubing, paddling, sailing, and more.
The numerous deep feeder channels and shallow shoreline provide habitat for a variety of fish species including bluegill, crappie and smallmouth bass. Anglers are particularly partial to the lake due to its reputation for supporting trophy-size walleye, muskie, and striped bass. Ice fishing is also pursued at Kirwan Reservoir. Concrete launch ramps are available at the park. Launching is permitted at several very visible sand pull-offs. A fishing area for the physically challenged is available at the outflow area. The area is accessible by vehicle; permits must be obtained at the Corps Resource Manager's Office located at 8657 Kestrel Way in Wayland. An accessible comfort facility is also available at the site.
Do you enjoy a nice leisurely drive, walk, jog, or a day of bicycling? You will enjoy the dam access road. This two-mile roadway runs across the dam for a spectacular view of the reservoir. Early spring and summer mornings are calming and beautiful when the sun's rays are just sparkling on the water and the early morning sky is an array of pinks and blues.
Even if you're just out for an afternoon drive sightseeing, why not stop and have a lakeside picnic at the reservoir? The picnic areas are conveniently located and are provided with picnic tables, shelters, and grills for your enjoyment.
The Corps of Engineers Visitor Information Center hosts a series of programs highlighting the natural, cultural and historical significance of the reservoir and it's surrounding area. In addition, guided nature walks and dam tours are available on alternating weekends during the summer. Reservations are not necessary. Contact the office for specific times and events or to receive a free brochure on the activities. The visitor center is located at the intersection of Wayland Road and Kestrel Way.
Hiking enthusiasts can spend their time on any of the several trails. West Branch State Park maintains several hiking trails adjacent to the camping area and an eight-mile loop of the Buckeye Trail traverses the western end of the reservoir. The Corps maintains a nature trail, "Little Jewel Run," located in the vicinity of the dam's outflow. In addition, there are also snowmobile, cross-country skiing, and bridle trails available.
Other facilities found West Branch State Park include a large full-service campground, a primitive site suitable for registered groups, a horse camp, boat rental, concession, a 700-foot swimming beach, and hunting opportunities.
Recreation - A variety of recreations are enjoyed at the dam including unlimited horsepower boating, waterskiing, tubing, fishing, sightseeing, hiking, jogging, bird watching, group and individual picnicking, swimming, and a choice of camping options.
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.
Michael J. Kirwan Dam and Reservoir is located on the West Branch of the Mahoning River about 10.6 miles above the junction of the branch and the Mahoning River at Newton Falls, Ohio. The porject is located entirely with Portage County, Ohio.