East Fork State Park, located in Bethel, Ohio off of SR 125, offers a multitude of attractions that are sure to make a family “staycation” one to remember.
East Fork offers any number of activities, ranging from camping to horseback riding in their spacious campsites to swimming, fishing and boating on the 2,610 acres of water.
“Our biggest attraction is our family campground,” Bob Bowman, the East Fork Park Manager said. “We have 460 sites, four camper cabins and four cedar cabins.
“You can bring anything from a tent to a camper trailer to a motor home and camp out for as little as one night or up to two weeks.”
Bowman said that the campground attracts between 45,000-50,000 people per year. Each of the sites has an electrical hookups and the campground offers showers, flush toilets, drinking water and a boat ramp.
East Fork’s Harsha Lake offers a wide variety of options for visiting guests.
If you are interested in fishing, Bowman says, Harsha Lake has everything that you would be looking for.
“We have fishing available year ‘round,” he said. “Some of the bigger fishing offerings are hybrid striped bass, catfish and crappie. Crappie is much sought after throughout the spring, summer and fall.”
A valid Ohio fishing license is required.
If fishing isn’t your idea of a good time, you can take advantage of unlimited horsepower boating on the lake, allowing for such activities as skiing and tubing.
The lake has five boat ramps, four of which are controlled by the park and the other under the watch of the board of engineers.
East Fork State Park also offers swimming at Harsha Lake. The park has two sand beaches available. One is designated simply for swimmers while the other is located at the campsite and used by the campers.
If hiking is your thing, East Fork offers a couple options to traverse the terrain that was sculpted by Illinoian and Wisconsian glaciers.
“We have hiking, which is really popular,” Bowman said. “We have a 35-mile perimeter trail that has four overnight campsites on it. People pick one or two of those and hike around the park in a few days.”
The park also offers some shorter trails for those who do not want to take a few days away.
There is a 16-mile backpack trail that goes throughout the park as well as a seven-mile mountain bike trails that Bowman says is used daily by quite a number of people.
Aside from the walking aspect, East Fork also offers hunting in a few designated locations. Waterfowl hunting is permitted on the lake and hunting of upland game is available in the adjacent wildlife area. A valid Ohio hunting license in required.
Finally, if you’re a horseback rider, East Fork offers an alternative to riding around your home or farm.
“We offer horseman campsites,” Bowman said. “We have 17 sites for horsemen that have an area to tie up the horses. People can bring their trailer with their horses and use the horseman day use. We have a large area where they can gather and have access to our horse trails.”
As one of the largest state parks in Ohio, East Fork offers still more options for day-tripping. The park has covered picnicking areas that Bowman says are perfect for a day trip.
If you’re interested in learning more about the park and the activities they offer, feel free to check out their website through the Department of Natural Resources or call the park office at (513) 734-4323.