Located near Ohio's capital city, Alum Creek State Park is a popular boating and camping destination. Visitors can spend the day jet skiing across thousands of acres of water or find a quiet cove to fish or paddle. Perfect for swimming and sunning, the beach is the largest inland beach in the park system. The park's large campground also offers a camp store, boating access, and a nature center for campers. Visitors with children can try the family-friendly mountain bike trail or the half-mile Storybook Trail.
Alum Creek Reservoir offers 3,387 acres of water. A dam at the south end of the lake is maintained by US Army Corps of Engineers. Four launch ramps offer public access to the lake; one additional ramp is available to campers only. The lake south of Cheshire Road is a boater's paradise with unlimited horsepower and plenty of room for skiers while the northern portion of the lake is no-wake and offers a quieter scene with tree-lined shores, shale cliffs, and sheltered inlets for paddling. There are life jacket loaner boards at the New Galena, Cheshire, and Marina ramps.
- Alum Creek Marina (740) 548-6056: A full-service marina on Hollenback Road (west side of the lake) offers 240 slips ranging from 24-32 feet in length, with some offering water and electric. Courtesy docks, fuel, boat supplies, snacks, and boat rentals remain available as a new marina is under construction in 2021. NOTE: A temporary path has been built for dock holder access to F and G docks.
- Dock Lottery: Season-long dock rentals are available through a dock lottery that opens August for the following boating season. [Dock Lottery Open Aug. 1-31] Contact the Alum Creek State Park office for details (740) 548-4631.
- Boat Swim Areas: Boaters may swim in Big Run, the Sailing Association Cove, and in marked coves just south and north of the US Route 36/37 bridge.
- Boat Camp: Boaters may camp overnight in the Sailing Association Cove and in marked coves just south and north of the US Route 36/37 bridge.
- Hand-launch Beach Access: The far end of the beach has a carry-in access for canoes, kayaks, and paddle boards. These vessels must stay clear of the swim zone, which is marked by buoys.
- The Alum Creek Sailing Association offers learn-to-sail programs for members and the general public along with special sailing programs for youth.
Alum Creek State Park Campground offers a variety of Full Hookup and Electric sites (all pet-friendly) in both sunny and shady areas; some premium sites overlook the lake. A Camper Cabin and four Sherman Cabins are available (Pets not permitted). An Equestrian Camp with several primitive sites is located in its own area on the northern portion of the park. A Group Camp is located on the southern end of the park. Reservations are required and may be made online or by calling (866) 644-6727.
An 18-hole "Players Course" is located at the New Galena Launch Ramp area. Equipment rental is available. No fee is charged to play.
Dog Park/Dog Swim Area
Alum Creek State Park is home to the Friends of Alum Creek Dog Park, a 4-acre site along the lake near the marina. The dog park features a fenced area with water access for dogs only and two additional fenced areas for small and large dogs.
Narrow coves and quiet inlets offer fine catches of bass, bluegill, crappie, muskie and saugeye.
- Hollenback Trail - 1.5 miles - easy
- Multi-purpose Trail - 5 miles - easy
- Park Office Trail - 1.5 miles - easy
- Rocks to Roots Trail - 4.1 miles - moderate
- Storybook Trail - 0.5 mile - easy
Thirty-eight miles of bridle trails wind along the lakeshore through mature beech-maple forests and across deep ravines. Riders must provide their own mounts.
Hunting is allowed in designated areas. The northern half of the park is best for squirrel and deer hunting. The southern half offers better opportunities for rabbit and other upland game.
- Mountain Bike Trail - 2 miles - easy
- Mountain Bike Trail - 5 miles - moderate
- Mountain Bike Trail - 7 miles - difficult
Connect with the Central Ohio Mountain Bike Organization
Several scenic picnic areas are available with tables, grills, restrooms and drinking water.
Three shelterhouses at the Alum Creek dam are maintained by the US Army Corps of Engineers. Reservations may be made online or by calling the Corps office at (740) 548-6151.
The beginning of the Storybook Trail is at the north end of the beach, which is on the west side of the lake (follow signs to the Beach). The storybook presented along the trail changes throughout the year. At the beginning of the trail is a Free Little Library where you can choose to take a book home or leave one for a fellow visitor.
- Storybook Trail - 0.5 mile - easy, mowed path
- Find more Ohio State Park Storybook Trails
- Find more Storybook Trails in Ohio
Alum Creek State Park's 3,000-foot beach is largest inland beach in Ohio's state park system. Facilities include changing area, outdoor showers, restrooms, beach vendors, and sand volleyball courts. The beach is open during daylight hours only. Swimming is at your own risk in designated areas. Pets are NOT permitted on swimming beaches.
- BeachGuard — Water quality advisories, Memorial Day to Labor Day, from Ohio Dept. of Health
Under proper winter conditions, park guests can enjoy sledding, ice skating, snowmobiling on the multi-purpose trail, cross-country skiing on the multi-purpose trail, ice fishing, and ice boating.
More to Do
- Olentangy Caverns
- Highbanks Metro Park
- Highly renowned Little Brown Jug harness race at the Delaware County Fairgrounds in September
- Columbus Zoo, located to the southwest, boasts an extensive collection of worldwide fauna
- Delaware County Convention & Visitors Bureau, 1-888-DEL-OHIO (888-335-6446)
History & Natural Features
The Alum Creek area is historically significant. Archaeological remains of the Adena culture, who lived in the area more than 2,000 years ago, have been found. Seven mounds constructed by the mound builders were identified along the creek. Six were excavated before the valley was flooded, although archaeologists did not believe they were burial mounds.
Much later, the Delaware Indian tribe occupied several villages near Alum Creek. A large town was located where the city of Delaware now stands on the banks of the Olentangy River. The Indians cultivated a 400-acre cornfield in what is presently downtown. These Algonquin tribespeople entered Ohio in the 1700s, after being displaced from their eastern home in the Delaware River valley by the fierce Iroquois nation.
In 1805, Colonel Moses Byxbe was one of the first settlers in the county. He built his home on Alum Creek and named the township Berkshire after his native Berkshire, Massachusetts. He owned 8,000 acres on the creek and was the co-owner of 30,000 more. These were military lands, which he later sold for $2.50 to $10 per acre.
With the threat of the War of 1812, the frontier counties began building structures to defend themselves in case of Indian attack. A small fortification known as Fort Cheshire was positioned at Alum Creek. The building was later used as a schoolhouse and stood until the Civil War. A bronze plaque commemorates the site where the fort once stood in what is now the park’s family campground.
During the fifty years prior to the Civil War, the border state of Ohio offered many routes for the Underground Railroad by which slaves escaped to freedom. Over 40,000 slaves passed northward through Ohio along these paths. The Sycamore Trail, whose guideposts were often the ghostly white bark of this floodplain tree, ran along Alum Creek. Slaves waded in the waters of the creek as they left the safe Hanby House in Westerville and attempted to elude pursuing trackers. The nearby Africa Road received its name from the fact that thirty slaves, freed in North Carolina, settled near friendly homeowners in this area.
Alum Creek Dam is part of the flood control plan for the Ohio River Basin. The lake was authorized by Congress in the Flood Control Act of 1962. Construction began in August of 1970 and was completed in 1974. It is managed by the US Army Corps of Engineers Huntington District.
Alum Creek rests in the midst of the fertile agricultural till plains and river valleys of Delaware County. Alum Creek offers a diverse array of natural features. Cliffs of Ohio shale, the muddy remains of an ancient sea, are notable in many areas, both within the park and at nearby Highbanks MetroPark and Shale Hollow Park. The cliffs were carved as Alum Creek and other streams cut through underlying bedrock. The dark hue of the rock is due to the mixture of carbonized plant material and mud that formed the shale.
Millions of years ago, rounded boulders, known as ironstone creations formed and today are weathering out the shale in this area. These ironstone concretions were formed when chemicals dissolved in the seawater precipitated around bits of organic matter in the soft mud, eventually turning to stone. Sometimes fossils, such as fish bones may be found in the center of these concretions.
After the retreat of the glaciers, about 12,000 years ago, the rich soils of Delaware County gave rise to a beech-maple forest. That original forest has long since been cut, but a healthy second-growth forest is preserved in the park. The woodlands are carpeted with beautiful displays of wildflowers in the spring. Large-flowered trillium, wild geranium, bloodroot and spring beauties offer a vivid backdrop to the park’s trail system. The park is also home to many common wildlife species and unique migrating waterfowl.