Best Hiking and Camping Spots in Buckeye Lake

Hiking and camping are fun outdoor activities. Here are some great spots to do that at Buckeye Lake!

Buckeye Lake during the day.
Buckeye Lake
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4595 Walnut Street SE, Unit N Buckeye Lake, Ohio 43008
(740) 928-0008
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Buckeye Lake


Stacey Fleurime


Jan 21, 2021

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Image courtesy of Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Ohio is a state filled with beautiful scenery. It possesses extensive farms and scenic overlooks. There is a lot of great outdoor space for you to enjoy with family, friends, or all on your own. There are vibrant cities and picturesque towns filled with fun activities to enjoy indoors and outdoors. Buckeye Lake is a great destination for anyone who wants to spend time outdoors. If you love hiking and camping then this is the perfect place for you to visit! There are a host of other things you can do between those activities. Buckeye Lake is a vast place with a lot to offer. It is a great place to get out and enjoy nature. 

Buckeye Lake is Ohio’s oldest state park. It was constructed in 1826 as a canal feeder lake. The 3,100 acre Buckeye lake is a big draw for visitors from all over. People visit to go boating, fishing, and camping among other activities. There are a host of things to do in and around this lake! What was at one point a swampland resulting from glaciation is now a popular vacation spot for people everywhere looking to enjoy their time in nature. Many people spend vacations there regularly. It is easy to see why. People used to go to Buckeye Lake for the amusement park, but it eventually stopped running. All that remains of it is a fountain. Visitors continued to come and stay for the enjoyment that the man-made lake had to offer. 

There is a lot of history in this area. Buckeye Lake was once a small pond. When they constructed it into a canal, workers built a dike that diverted water from the south fork of the Licking river. When the small pond was filled, they renamed it the Licking Summit Reservoir. In time, canals lost their popularity, and then in 1894 the state Legislature renamed the reservoir Buckeye Lake and turned it into a public park. That is when all the fun began. 

The face of this place has continuously changed over the decades, but one thing that remains is the beauty of the area, and the potential for a good time. Here are some of the best places to hike and camp at Buckeye Lake. 

Best Places to Hike

Stretch Your Legs and Enjoy the Scenery

People biking on the path by Buckeye Lake.
Such wonderful scenery. Image courtesy of Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Buckeye Lake is extensive and surrounded by many areas for you and your companions to travel through. You will surely get more than your fill of walking when you make your way through here! There is a 4.1 mile paved path at Buckeye Lake State Park that offers shoreline views. The North Shore boat ramp is one way to enter the pathway. The other entrance is at Leib’s Island. The shoreline path runs across the dam and connects The North Shore to Leib’s Island. There are multiple areas around this path that offer different activities such as fishing and picnicking. You can bike and walk your way around the trail. 

During your walk, you can stop to have a picnic. There are 4 picnic areas available for use. The picnic areas contain tables and grills, so you don’t have to bring your food fully prepared. You can take fresh food on your hike and cook it when you stop by one of these spots for a food break. These areas are situated in quiet spots that overlook the lake. There are 3 large shelters available for reservations. If you’d like to use one of these spaces, just make sure you call ahead. If not, there are mini shelters available for walk-in use. You can use them on a “first come, first serve” basis. Have a picnic out in the open or in a shelter! You have plenty of options at Buckeye Lake. And when you’re done, just pick up your things and get back on the trail!

Birdwatching is another thing you can do while on your hike. It is a popular activity here that certain areas are best used for. You can find birds in many areas, but the Fairfield beach area is the best one for bird watching. There is ample parking space in the area as well as plenty of restrooms available for use. You will have a comfortable time there while observing nature. There is a nearby section known as “Gibson Island” where different woodpecker species can be observed. Plenty of other species have been observed in the area. On nearby “Beach Island,” a spot within view of Fairfield beach, people have seen osprey, herons, and waterfowls. Bald eagles have even been spotted on occasion! At the end of Pine Road, there is a peninsula surrounded by trees. There you will find flycatchers, sparrows, and many other species. Don’t miss out on these amazing creatures when you take a hike through Buckeye Lake. Stop to enjoy them!

There are other sights to see at Buckeye Lake aside from the wildlife. There is a really interesting feature known as “Cranberry Bog.” It is a floating island built of mostly cranberry plants. It is the only floating island that exists in the U.S. The vegetation that thrives there has existed since the last Ice Age, which was over 10,000 years ago. Cranberry Bog has floated on the surface of Buckeye Lake for about 180 years. The combination of man made changes and natural glaciation made it so sphagnum moss could thrive, which in turn provided an ideal spot for cranberries to grow. 

It appears every year during the summer months. You can view it from a distance, or you can see it up close by visiting the Cranberry Bog State Nature Preserve. But before you can do that, you must make sure to get yourself a free permit from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Natural Areas and Preserves. Go check out this wonder of nature while on your hike!

There are many regular islands in Buckeye Lake. You can see a few of them on your hiking journey. There are about 25-30 of them, mostly located off the south shore of the lake. Some of the islands are uninhabited, and some of them are, but mostly during the summertime. Many people go to those islands to spend their summers on a regular basis. 

If you get too hot during your scenic hike, you can always stop and take a dip. There are three public swimming areas available to visitors. You can cool off in one at any time. There is one at Fairfield Beach, one at Brooks Park, and one at Crystal Beach. Fairfield Beach and Brooks Park is on the south end of the lake and Crystal Beach is on the north side. They are each open every year from Memorial Day to Labor Day. So go ahead and get your fill of walking, and then make your way to one of these beaches and jump right in!

Best Places to Camp

Chill out After a Long Day

A campsite with four different tents.
A nice, cozy campsite. Image courtesy of Pixabay.

Make sure to have your camping supplies ready when you go to Buckeye Lake. There are lots of areas to make camp for a night or so. It is a very large lake! Multiple options for camp sites are available to you. KOA campgrounds is one option. They have RV spots, tent sites, and regular lodging available for reservation. They offer plenty of accommodations to make your stay in nature comfortable. The RV sites offer patio furniture, grills, and fire pits. The RV sites accept six people per reservation. Plenty of them also come with hookups for cable. If you want some regular, indoor comforts on this trip then this is a great spot for you. They also offer cabins if you would like indoor lodging. The cabins are mostly one room dwellings that can accommodate up to six people. Make sure to bring a group of friends with you or bring your family if you plan to stay at one of these!

There are plenty of tent sites available if you’d rather sleep out in nature. The tent sites offered by KOA each accommodate up to six people. There is a picnic table on each site along with a fire pit and Wi-Fi. They are also not very far from the parking space so you won’t have very far to go for extra supplies! There is even a nearby pool that you and your companions can take a dip in. Reserving space here will not be disappointing! You get to enjoy all the beauty of the outdoors with helpful accommodations that make your stay very comfortable. 

There are plenty of accommodations for lodging at Buckeye Lake. A great one is Mohican Adventures Campground. They offer tent sites, RV sites, as well as cabin space. Each site accepts a maximum of four adults and four children. It is great for large groups and for those travelling with children. Pets are allowed as long as you choose tent or RV accommodations. They have bathrooms on site, grills, and even laundromats. You’ll have many modern conveniences available to you during your time in nature rather than have a hard time roughing it with life’s typical accommodations situated far from your reach. You won’t have to worry about much if you make a reservation here. This place is made to optimize your potential for fun and relaxation. There is a pool and a hot tub present where you can have a relaxing soak in the hot tub after a day filled with walking and other fun physical activities. And there are many ways to have a great time being active at this campground. You can play basketball, volleyball, and horseshoes. 

And let’s not forget about all the fun you can have inside of the lake itself. You can go canoeing, kayaking, or fishing. You can do most of those things as long as you have the time and energy for it. Fishing is a great way to have a good time and have a meal available for later! It is a very popular activity at Buckeye Lake. It is extremely satisfying to grill up a delicious fish that you just caught yourself! Don’t miss out on that experience when you visit Buckeye Lake. You can catch a variety of fish. In the lake, you’ll find crappie, bluegill, perch, and many more

There will surely be lots of crappie. They are a popular fish found at the lake. Back in 1891 a state operated railroad car transported crappie and bass straight from Lake Erie to stock Buckeye Lake. You can enjoy the results of that labor as long as you take fishing supplies with you when you visit. But you must have a valid Ohio fishing license to do this! Make sure that you are well prepared to take advantage of all that Buckeye Lake has to offer. 

Plenty of boats are available to rent at nearby businesses. You can rent a kayak, pontoon boat, a wave runner, and multiple others. You can also rent dock space to keep your rental boat. For fun land travel, there are places nearby to rent bikes! When you’re not hiking you can have fun riding down the pathway on a rental bike. You won’t have to worry about the hassle of bringing a bike over yourself. Just about anything you may need can be found right by the lake! There are many different local companies that can handle the rental process for boats and bikes as well as the maintenance and repairs. It is extremely difficult to be bored when you’re at Buckeye Lake. There are just so many things to do there! Your hiking experience will be an adventure and your camping experience will be heightened by all there is to do around you. Don’t miss out on this location! Head to Buckeye Lake for some good summertime fun.

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May 27, 2021
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