Located amid the breathtaking scenery of the Paint Creek Valley in southwest Ohio, the 5,652-acre Paint Creek State Park features a 1,148-acre lake with fine fishing, boating and swimming opportunities. A modern campground and meandering trails invite outdoor enthusiasts to explore and enjoy the rolling hills and streams of this scenic area.
Unlimited horsepower boating is permitted on Paint Creek Lake. Three launch ramps provide access to the lake. Fuel and dock rentals are offered seasonally. A boat swim area is available near the swimming beach.
Paint Creek State Park Campground offers nearly 200 pet-friendly campsites including Electric, Full hookup, and Premium deck sites. The campground also includes two Camper Cabins (no pets; no smoking). A small Equestrian campground is located on the south side of the lake away from the family campground. Reservations are required for all camping.
The park features a 21-hole disc golf course. Equipment rental is available from the camp store.
Anglers will enjoy good catches of saugeye, bluegill, bass, catfish and crappie at the lake.
Hunting is allowed in season on the lake for waterfowl and in the adjacent wildlife area. Pheasant, rabbit and white-tailed deer are abundant.
Picnic areas with tables and grills are provided near the marina.
A large, 1,000-foot sand beach provides enjoyment for swimmers and sunbathers. Portable restroom facilities are available during the summer months. Swimming is permitted in designated areas. Please exercise caution while swimming at the beach. Pets are NOT permitted on swimming beaches.
- BeachGuard — Water quality advisories, Memorial Day to Labor Day, from Ohio Dept. of Health
Hikers can explore three hiking trails ranging in length from 0.75 to 6 miles. The trails, lined with delicate wildflowers, pass through open meadows and mature woodlands.
Additionally, Paint Creek State Park features 25 miles of bridle trails and 12 miles of mountain bike trails.
In winter, park guests can enjoy sledding and cross-country skiing when conditions permit.
More to Do
- Miniature golf can be enjoyed for a small fee.
- Rock climbing is permitted along the Harmony Trail and Spillway Wall. Contact the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at (937) 365-1470 for information.
History & Natural Features
We are not the first to recognize the richness and beauty of this land. Prehistoric cultures built a variety of earthworks throughout the region, while the Shawnee Indians considered the Paint Valley home.
Conflicts often arose between the original holders of the Ohio country and the white settlers invading from the east. A Shawnee named Waw-will-a-way became a victim of this strife when he was unjustly accused of scalping a white man. This Indian encountered three white men in the Paint Valley bent on revenge for the scalping. They shot him in the chest, yet he killed one and severely wounded the other two before he succumbed. His funeral pyre laid at the peaceful confluence of the Paint and Rattlesnake creeks.
The waters of the creeks provided a source of power for early mills. Grinding grain, processing wool and sawing wood were all facilitated by the waters flowing over dams constructed in the creeks. Many of the original dams were made of only earth and wood and were washed out by annual floods. One such mill, Crawford's Mill, was built at a place later called Hewitt's Crossing on Paint Creek. The site now lies beneath the waters of the reservoir. Construction of the dam on Paint Creek started in 1967, and the site was dedicated as a state park in 1972.
The Paint Creek region lies at the very edge of the Appalachian Plateau. This escarpment marks the boundary between the hilly eastern section of the state and the flatter western portions. Most of the plateau in southeastern Ohio was never reached by glaciers, although the Paint Creek area bears evidence of glacial activity. One stream near the park, Rocky Fork Creek, was blocked by glacial ice and reversed direction, rapidly cutting the 75-foot gorge seen today. Sullivantia, an extremely rare wildflower in Ohio, blooms in the gorge in mid-summer.
Nearby, Highlands Nature Sanctuary (once home to the popular 20th century nature park known as the Seven Caves) is located about 50 feet above Rocky Fork Creek. The caves are not open to the public, protecting the habitat and resident bat population. However, visitors will find trails and the Appalachian Forest Museum at the site. The museum located on Cave Road just south of the park is a short trip well worth the time.
Before Paint Creek was impounded to form a reservoir, the creek valley was unrivaled in the state for scenic beauty and its display of wildflowers. Some of this unspoiled land yet remains above the still waters of the lake. Wild geranium, jewelweed, yarrow and Queen Anne's lace can be found blooming in the woodlands and meadows of the park
The reservoir provides habitat for numerous waterfowl and shorebirds as well as the great blue heron. Osprey and bald eagles have been sighted over the lake. The limestone outcroppings on the lake's edge provide nesting habitat for the cliff swallow. Other songbirds, raccoons, white-tailed deer and the elusive wild turkey inhabit the park.
Contact & Hours
Park Hours: 6am to 11pm daily. Visitors are permitted to actively engage in legitimate recreational activities outside these hours. If you have questions, call the park office.
Park Office: (937) 393-4284; 9am to 4:30pm Monday-Friday
Nature Center: Times vary, Friday-Sunday
Manager: Cory Cover