Warm weather in Ohio sends people outdoors, even on an overcast day. One of their favorite spots near Cambridge in southeastern Ohio is Salt Fork State Park, Ohio’s largest state park. This lake is a rather recent creation and those past fifty can still remember when farm land covered this area with Salt Fork Creek running through it. Back in 1967, the earthen dam was completed here and the filling of the lake began.
Vacationing at the lake has many possible accommodations: camping, renting a cottage or staying at the lodge. The campground sites all supply electrical hook-ups and nearby is a heated shower house. Only a few sites provide sewer and water hook-ups as well. If you prefer a cottage, several are available with hillside and lakeside locations. All of the cottages are completely furnished with a screened-in porch, and even include kitchen utensils.
Others prefer the comfort and convenience of Salt Fork Lodge. This beautiful stone lodge with its pine beams sets high above the lake in the rolling hills of Southeastern Ohio. Frequently used for meetings as well as vacations, the lodge contains a wonderful dining area as well as beautiful stone fireplaces that give you a warm feeling no matter what the season. Indoor and outdoor swimming pools provide entertainment all year long. Outside you will find a fantastic playground for the youngsters as well as tennis, volleyball, basketball and shuffleboard courts, so there is little excuse for anyone to be bored.
Just a half mile down the road is the entrance to the 18-hole championship golf course, which is a challenge in these rolling hills so a golf cart is highly recommended. Deer are frequent visitors on the golf course and don’t seem the least bit afraid of golfers. Here you will also find a pro shop, putting green, and driving range.
Of course, no lake would be complete without a beach and Salt Fork’s 2500 foot beach is one of the longest inland beaches in Ohio. Everyone has plenty of room to enjoy swimming or building castles in the sand. When you want a break from the beach, stop by the concession stand, grab some clubs to play miniature golf, or tour the nice Nature Center in the main bathhouse building.
Two marinas provide storage for boats year round and some years you must get your reservations in early to claim a spot. Otherwise, ten easy access ramps accommodate boat trailers. No boat of your own? Be assured a variety of rental boats are available. There is even a pontoon tour boat to take you and your guests around the lake for an enjoyable time on the water.
Fourteen hiking trails range from easy to moderate in difficulty, so just about everyone can enjoy the hike. One popular trail leads to Hosak’s Cave formed by interesting rock layer erosion, which has also created small waterfalls. Along the path you will find beautiful wildflowers, hear the songs of many birds and relax to the calming sound of the bubbling brook. If you are lucky, a wild turkey might cross your path or even a deer.
A longer trail leads to Kennedy Stone House where they have restored the only house left standing when Salt Fork Park was created. This historic stone structure was built in 1837 through the plans of Benjamin Kennedy of Ireland. Stones used were quarried from the hills nearby and shaped with detail so they fit tightly together to make a sturdy structure that still stands after 175 years. Original cost was only $600, which was quite a bargain even long ago. Recently a road has been cut down to the house so you can now drive there also, but most find it more exciting to approach from the trail or even from a boat. Call ahead and see if you can schedule a tour.
Sunsets are always beautiful over the water and Salt Fork Lake is no exception. What a great way to end the day or begin the evening. Salt Fork State Park is a fun filled place for a family vacation as it has varied activities for all age groups. If you are lucky enough to live in the area, enjoy a day at the beach or a ride on the lake anytime. The lake is also a great place to do nothing – just sit by the water and watch the waves from the boats passing by, or the motion of tree branches blowing in the wind. Relax and enjoy!
Salt Fork State Park is located just six miles north of Cambridge, Ohio on Route 22. Once you turn left into the main entrance of the park, watch for wooden signs along the way that lead you to the various places of interest.