Experience Buckeye Lake

Not only is Ohio’s oldest state park is the perfect vacation spot, but it’s also rich in history, natural features, and year-round activities fun for the whole family.

sunset at buckeye lake ohio


Madeline Adamczyk


Jan 21, 2021

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Buckeye Lake was constructed way back in 1826 as a canal feeder lake, making it Ohio's oldest state park. The park has been a popular vacation spot ever since its creation, and today, it offers endless water-related recreational opportunities from boating to ice skating and fishing as well as a rich history that’s worth checking out. If you live in Buckeye Lake, Ohio, or want to, you’ll want to read on to find out everything you need to know to make the most of it.

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A Rich History

The growth and development of a canal

In the early 1800s, there was a need to create interconnected waterways to keep up with Ohio’s growing economy. A canal project was initiated by Governor Jeremiah Morrow, and the rest is history. Construction began in 1826 and was completed in 1830, forming the Licking Summit Reservoir, which eventually became Buckeye Lake. Canal boats traveled along the original lake for a while until it became too small to supply the necessary water for the canal, so it was enlarged. In order to provide an even more water, another lake was developed to the north and west of the original one.

When railroads became the new means of transportation, the canal system became outdated. Many miles of canal fell into disuse or were sold. In an effort to preserve these feeder reservoirs, in 1894, the General Assembly of Ohio set a policy whereby they were established as public parks. This is when the name, “Licking Summit Reservoir” was changed to “Buckeye Lake.”

By 1900, housing and recreational developments were taking place in the form of cottages and several amusement parks around the lake. During the 1940s and 50s, many people traveled to the Buckeye Lake Amusement Park to play games, picnic, and see performances.

marina on the lake
Learn about the history of the lake while you explore.

The Natural Landscape

A relic of the Ice Age

The area that is now Buckeye Lake was once swampland created from glaciation. Thousands of years ago, the glaciers moved across Ohio and permanently altered the landscape. Natural lakes were created when massive chunks of ice broke off glaciers and melted. Other lakes were formed by this process too. As time progressed, clay and silt settled out of the still water and formed the bottom of the lakes.

Today, there is an area of clay sediment in the Buckeye Lake region that indicates that the glacial lake was much bigger than the present man-made lake.

In the 1700s, Explorer Christopher Gist, traveled through Buckeye Lake and camped by the watery bog’s edge. In 1751, he named the area, “Buffalo Lick,” or “Great Swamp,” in his journal.  A large portion of the wetland was a cranberry bog. The Cranberry Bog is still present today, and it is recognized as a state nature preserve and a National Natural Landmark. In 1826, the cranberry bog broke away from the ground and became a floating island, which may be the only one of its kind in the world. Although you can’t go out and visit the island, it is still interesting to view from afar.

cranberry bog
Get in touch with nature at Buckeye Lake.


3,100 acres of fun

What’s more fun than cruising around a scenic lake on a sunny, summer day? Buckeye Lake is designated as an unlimited horsepower lake. No matter what kind of boat you have, from pontoons, sailboats, canoes, and rowboats-all are welcome. There are nine launch ramps located at different areas of the lake to provide easy access. If you’re spending a summer or live at the lake, there are 135 seasonal docks that are available to rent. Local marinas are scattered around the lake and offer fuel, bait, and other items for sale. There is also two all-inclusive areas where you can go boating, swimming, and camping.

girl driving a boat
Cruise around Buckeye Lake this summer!


Reel in the fun

Buckeye Lake is stocked with a large variety of fish from perch, bluegill, crappie, muskellunge, largemouth bass, channel catfish, to bullhead catfish. A valid Ohio fishing license is required to fish on the lake, so make sure you have one before you head out to catch your dinner!

fishing in water
Spend a quiet day fishing on the lake.


Get your camouflage gear and head to Buckeye

The lake is open to waterfowl hunting in season. If you’re interested, waterfowl blinds are available by lottery. Be sure to check out the hunting map before you arrive at the lake.

duck on the water
Bring your hunting game to Buckeye.


Enjoy lunch on the lake

Around Buckeye, there are four picnic areas with tables and grills. They are situated in quiet spots that overlook the lake. If you’re planning a family reunion, graduation party, or another large event, there are three big shelters that are available for reservation online. Mini shelters are also available but on a "first come, first served" basis. What are you waiting for? Book your event at Buckeye today.

man grilling sausages
Make memories that will last a lifetime.


Summer days are swimming days

The swimming beaches at Buckeye are Brooks Beach, Crystal Beach, and Fairfield Beach. Pack your bathing suits and towels and head on over for a dip.

kids playing in water
Cool off at a Buckeye Lake beach.

Winter Recreation

Don’t let the cold weather discourage you

While most of the activities that Buckeye Lake provides are to be enjoyed during the summer months, visitors can still enjoy the lake during the winter. Under the proper conditions, park visitors can enjoy ice skating, cross-country skiing, ice fishing, and ice boating.

family cross country skiing
Head to Buckeye Lake for wintry fun!


Calling all bird enthusiasts

Buckeye Lake’s immense shoreline offers excellent habitats for waterfowl. Bird-watching opportunities are best during the spring and fall migrations. One of Ohio’s largest great blue heron rookeries is situated on an adjacent private land, but the birds can often be spotted soaring over the lake and nestled throughout the park.

Spot these majestic creatures along the shoreline.

Rich in history and natural wonders, Buckeye Lake is the place to be. Stop by soon to enjoy a plethora of outdoor activities while taking in 3,100 acres of breathtaking scenery.

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December 7, 2017
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