The wooded hills and scenic valleys surrounding Dillon State Park in east central Ohio offer a picturesque setting for outdoor adventure. Whether boating the quiet coves and inlets of the lake or hiking the forest trails, you'll have an outstanding recreational experience at this 2,285-acre park.
The area's history is tied to the story of transportation in Ohio. Water still draws visitors as the large lake offers unlimited horsepower boating, a marina, and several boat ramps. Other park activities include hiking, camping, horseback riding, fishing, mountain biking, stargazing, and sledding.
The archery range is located at the Sled Hill parking lot. Available targets include: 10-, 20-, 30-, 40-yard, and a 30-yard broadhead target. Bring your own equipment; no rentals are provided. Backstops are made from recycled plastic from Coconis Furniture. The range was built by Brenton Reed for his Eagle Scout project.
The 1,560-acre lake allows unlimited horsepower boating. Two boat ramps provide access to the lake. Canoes, kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards are available for rent at the Camp Store.
The park offers 95 docks for lease on a seasonal basis as well as four overnight rental docks. Contact the park office for details.
There are 19 miles of wooded trails that allow horseback riders [map]. Some trails are multi-use, allowing hikers and/or mountain bikers along with horseback riders. Trails are marked when certain activities are prohibited (eg, "no hikers," "no bikes" or "no horses"). Equestrian is available in the Dillon State Park Campground.
Dillon State Park Campground offers Full-hookup, Electric and Non-electric sites as well as primitive Equestrian camping and Cabins. Reservations are required; reserve online or by calling (866) 644-6727.
Woodchuck Ridge is a 61-par, 18-hole disc golf course in the park with a variety of challenges for all experience levels [map]. The course begins up the steps behind the Camp Store, loops near camp areas, and finishes back at the Camp Store. Map, score sheets, and rental discs are available at the Camp Store. Discs are also sold in the store.
The free course is open to the public due the generosity of Boy Scout Troop 14 and donations by the Friends of Dillon State Park. The course was an Eagle Scout project for Matt Tellez.
Largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie, saugeye, hybrid striped bass, and catfish are plentiful.
- Blackberry Ridge — 0.6 Mile — Moderate
- Bog Loop — 1 Mile — Easy
- Eagle Ridge Loop — 0.8 Mile — Moderate
- King Ridge Loop — 1 Mile — Moderate
- Licking Bend — 4.4 Miles — Moderate
- Ruffed Grouse Loop — 0.6 Mile — Moderate
- Storybook Trail — 0.5 Mile, Paved — Easy; allows bicycles
A number of trails in the park are multi-use (hikers, horseback riders and mountain bikers); hikers are permitted on most trails. Trails are marked when certain activities are prohibited (eg, "no hikers," "no bikes" or "no horses").
Hunting is permitted in designated areas of the park and in the surrounding Dillon Wildlife area in season.
The mountain bike area is ranked as one the state’s top-three trails; Dillon offers one of the most challenging trails in the state. There is also a "skills area" where riders can hone their biking skills. There are 18 miles of mountain biking trails, color-coded for beginner, intermediate, and advanced riders [map].
Parts of some trails are multi-use, allowing hikers and/or horseback riders along with mountain bikers. Trails are marked when certain activities are prohibited (eg, "no hikers," "no bikes" or "no horses").
A variety of trails traverse the park, giving visitors a chance to view a variety of landscapes. One multi-use trail allows hiking, biking and horseback riding
- Paved: Storybook Trail — 0.5 Mile — Easy
- Bridle: 19 Miles — wooded [map]
- Hiking: 8.9 Miles — Moderate
- Mountain Biking: 18 Miles — Beginner, intermediate, and advanced [map]
Some portions of trails are multi-use, allowing hikers, bicyclists, and horseback riders. Prohibited activities ("no hikers," "no bikes" or "no horses") are marked.
Two picnic areas complete with tables and grills are located in the park. Shelterhouses that have not already been reserved are available first-come, first served.
- Dillon Beach Shelter: 25’ x 50’ shelterhouse features lights, electric outlets, 14 picnic tables, a waist-high grill and restrooms within 100 yds.
- Dillon Big Run Shelter: 36’ x 36’ shelterhouse features lights, one electric outlet (more can be arranged by calling 740-453-4377.
- Blue Rock Lower Shelter: 24’ x 20’ shelterhouse features 4 picnic tables inside and 7 outside, two waist-high grills, fireplace, lights and electric outlets. Latrine located within 25 yards.
- Blue Rock Upper Shelter: 60’ x 20’ shelterhouse features 12 picnic tables, waist-high grill, 2 fireplaces, and latrine within 100 yds.
- Blue Rock Fire Tower Shelter: 20’ x 24’ shelterhouse features 4 picnic tables, fireplace, lights, electric outlets and restroom within 100 yds.
The storybook presented along this paved 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; paved
- Find more Ohio State Park Storybook Trails
- Find more Storybook Trails in Ohio
A 1,360-foot swimming beach is located near the park office. A wading pool is also available. Swimming is permitted in designated areas during daylight hours only. Please exercise caution while swimming at the beach.
There are two restroom facilities in the beach area. A new ADA accessible facility is located near the wading pool.
- BeachGuard — Water quality advisories, Memorial Day to Labor Day, from Ohio Dept. of Health
Under the proper conditions, park visitors can enjoy sledding at the Sled Hill near the Archery Range.
History & Natural Features
The history of the Dillon region highlights the story of transportation in the area. The nearby Licking River played a crucial role in Ohio’s cultural history, from the days of Native Americans to the age of the river canals.
The Licking River provided Native Americans with access to Flint Ridge where outcroppings of flint were found. In the Blackhand Gorge, now protected as a state nature preserve, a sandstone cliff bore a soot-blackened engraving of a human hand. This mysterious petroglyph is thought to have served as a guide marker for Indians searching for Flint Ridge. Specimens of Flint Ridge flint have been found as far east as the Atlantic seaboard, as far south as Louisiana and as far west as Kansas City.
In 1803, Moses Dillon purchased the land bordering the Licking River, where the park is now located. Dillon is most noted for his design and construction of the world-famous “Y” Bridge in Zanesville.
The region continued to develop, with the construction of the Old National Road, built between 1811 and 1834. It was the first federally funded road in U.S. history and helped establish the city of Zanesville. Later, the power of the Licking River was harnessed for the Ohio and Erie Canal, which boosted trade and commerce to surrounding towns. The development of the railroad led to an inter-urban rail between Zanesville, Newark and Columbus.
In 1961, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completed construction of Dillon Reservoir for flood control, with recreation as a secondary use.
Dillon State Park in Muskingum County is situated in an area of the state possessing diverse and interesting natural features resulting from the unique properties of the Black Hand sandstone found here. Hundreds of millions of years ago, sand eroded from eastern mountains and accumulated in a vast delta of the ancient sea covering the region. Eventually, this hard bedrock eroded to form sheer cliffs. Today, the landscape supports a hardwood forest.
The rolling, reverting farmland of the area provides visitors the opportunity to see some of Ohio’s most magnificent wildlife. White-tailed deer and wild turkey can be seen along the park’s trails by quiet observers. During migration, numerous species of waterfowl visit Dillon’s waters. Sightings of bald eagles have also been reported.