A true vacation destination, Deer Creek offers a balance of modern and rustic facilities to satisfy every visitor. Set amidst rich farming country, the park’s well-appointed resort, marina, large campground, and 18-hole golf course facilities blend perfectly with outdoor activities such as boating, fishing, camping, and hiking. The park also boasts a presidential connection with its historical Harding Cabin. In summer, Deer Creek offers nature programming, and in winter, snowmobiling and ice fishing.
Resort Lodge & Cabins
One of Ohio's largest state park resorts, Deer Creek Lodge & Conference Center offers well-appointed guest rooms, many with a panoramic view of the lake as well as two-bedroom, fully-furnished family cabins.
The historic Harding Cabin offers a unique lakeside setting and sleeps 7-9 guests. For reservations, please call the lodge directly at 740-869-2020.
Deer Creek State Park Campground offers more than 200 electric sites, both shady and sunny. Pets are permitted on all sites, but not in the camper cabins. Three primitive equestrian sites are available.
Unlimited horsepower boating is permitted on the 1,277-acre Deer Creek reservoir. Two boat launch ramps provide access to the lake. A fully-equipped marina offers fuel, boat rental, and seasonal dock rentals. For information, call (740) 869-2100.
Boaters may swim from their boats in the designated boat-swim area located in the cove adjacent to the lodge.
A fenced dog park near the campground area offers a place for your pets to frolic without a leash.
The park offers an 18-hole disc golf course plus one practice hole. The course is located near the campground check-in station and is free to use. Equipment may be rented at the campground store.
Deer Creek Lake is famous for its early spring saugeye fishing below the dam. Excellent catches of catfish, largemouth bass, and crappie also entice the angler.
Deer Creek State Park Golf Course is located near the lodge. Designed by Jack Kidwell and open since 1982, the 350-acre course is diverse and exciting for golfers of all skill levels.
The lake provides excellent waterfowl hunting. Fourteen hunting blinds are issued each season on a lottery basis. Hunting for pheasant, rabbit, squirrel and deer is not permitted in the state park, but it is permitted in the Deer Creek Wildlife Area adjacent to the park. Deer Creek Wildlife Area Shooting Range offers pistol and archery ranges.
Several picnic areas are situated in scenic locations around lake.
Four shelterhouses are available on a first come, first served basis.
- Three shelterhouses may be reserved through ODNR by calling 740-869-2243.
- Two shelterhouses near the dam are managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and may be reserved online or by calling (877) 444-6777.
A 1,700-foot swimming beach with picnic tables and grills is available at the park. Pets are NOT permitted on swimming beaches. A boat-swim area is located in the cove adjacent to the lodge. Swimming is permitted during daylight hours only. Swim at your own risk.
- BeachGuard — Water quality advisories, Memorial Day to Labor Day, from Ohio Dept. of Health
Six hiking-only trails are found at the park:
- Adena Ridge Trail - .8 mile - easy
- Hawkview Meadow Trail - .6 mile - easy
- Marsh Walk Trail - .7 mile - moderate
- Ridge Trail - .9 miles - moderate
- Rolling Hills Trail - 1.5 miles - moderate
- Van Horn Trail - .8 miles - easy-moderate
Two large loops and a spur form 17 miles of bridle trails - moderate. These trails are also open to snowmobiles in season.
Under the proper conditions, park visitors may enjoy sledding, ice fishing, and ice skating. Snowmobiling is permitted on the 17-mile bridle trail when conditions allow.
More to Do
- Volleyball and basketball courts, playgrounds, baseball field, pickle ball court, and gaga ball pit are offered in select day-use areas.
- Nature center offers nature programs during summer months.
- Bicycle rentals are available at the Campground Check-in Station for campers and visitors.
History & Natural Features
On a long ridge that once overlooked Deer Creek and its valley, researchers have discovered evidence of an ancient native camp. Around 2000 BC, the nomads who camped there were hunters and gatherers, using the camp periodically throughout the year. Since agriculture was not practiced by the nomads, they moved on after they depleted the plant or animal food supplies in a locale. Burial sites near the camp indicate it was inhabited over a period of time.
In the early 20th century, a cabin overlooking the valley was owned by Harry M. Daugherty, the attorney general under President Warren G. Harding. The rustic cabin was built in 1918. President Harding was said to have visited this cabin, which now bears his name.
The completion of the dam in 1968 created the lake, and the park officially opened in 1974.
Deer Creek State Park lies near the eastern edge of the great till plains of Ohio. These plains receive their name from the glacial debris, or till, which is a mixture of clay, sand, silt, and gravel that was deposited by the glaciers. As glaciers advanced across the northern two-thirds of Ohio, most hills and valleys were covered and filled in by the till, leaving this part of Ohio relatively flat.
The first settlers to the area did not find open fields. Except for a few small prairie openings, the region was covered by dense woodlands. Today, these rich plains in the park's region support corn, soybeans, and wheat farming. A regrowth of the original woodlands can be found scattered along the ridge tops and creek bottoms of the park.
Wildflowers abound in the fields and woodlands of the till plains. In spring, common flowers are Dutchman's breeches, rue anemone, trillium, spring beauty, and bloodroot. Summer months produce thimbleweed, wild lettuce, jewelweed, and daisy fleabane. In autumn, the most abundant flowers are aster, goldenrod, and chicory, whose roots were used by settlers to make a coffee-like beverage.
The park is a great place for wildlife watching. Local amphibians include the chorus frog, spring peeper, and American toad, and commonly found reptiles include box and painted turtles as well as the black rat snake and eastern garter snake. Numerous mammals inhabit the park including red fox, raccoon, opossum, woodchuck, skunk, rabbit, and white-tailed deer. Songbirds in the area include eastern meadowlark, song sparrow, eastern bluebird, barn swallow, and woodcock. Deer Creek is known for its population of ring-necked pheasant. Other birds of the area include eastern meadowlark, song sparrow, cowbird, eastern bluebird, barn swallow, and woodcock.