Located in southwest Ohio, the 4,870-acre East Fork State Park is one of the largest state parks in Ohio. The park offers diverse recreational and natural history opportunities only 25 miles from Cincinnati. Rolling hills, winding rivers, and a large lake provides a beautiful backdrop for a wonderful getaway.
The park's 2,160-acre William H. Harsha Lake offers unlimited horsepower boating. Seven launch ramps provide easy access to the lake.
- Campground Boat Ramp - in the campground
- Hand Launch Boat Ramp - east of the beach on the south side of the park
- North Shore Boat Ramp - on the north side of the park
- Reisinger Boat Ramp - south side of the park/ north of the town of Bethel
- Slade Road Boat Ramp - on US Army Corps of Engineers property, west of the park
- Tate Boat Ramp - south side of the park
- Tunnel Mill Boat Ramp - in the Division of Wildlife property, east of the park
A life jacket loaner board can be found at the Hand Launch ramp. A boat swim area and boat camping area are available near the Tate Boat Ramp.
East Fork State Park Campground is large and wooded; it offers electric and full-hookup sites. Pets are permitted in all areas. The campground also offers horse-friendly electric sites in Loop A.
The lake offers quality fishing with excellent catches of largemouth and smallmouth bass and crappie, and fair catches of bluegill. For the sport angler, East Fork is stocked with hybrid striper.
Hunting is permitted in designated areas only. Hunting blinds accessible to persons with mobility impairments can be found at the park. Hunting access for all abilities is located on N. Campbell Road and Tunnel Mill Road.
Eight picnic areas with tables and grills are located around the park. Drinking water
A 1,200-foot swimming beach features changing booths, showers, restrooms (including men’s, women’s and family), and a vending area. Swimming is permitted in designated areas during daylight hours. Please exercise caution while swimming at the beach.
- BeachGuard — Water quality advisories, Memorial Day to Labor Day, from Ohio Dept. of Health
East Fork offers approximately 46 miles of backcountry trail as well as the 16-mile Backpack Trail and 32-mile Perimeter Trail. Parking and the trailhead are located at the south access parking lot near the park entrance. Access and parking on the north side of the Perimeter Trail are available at the campground visitor parking lot.
Backcountry camping is free and available by permit only at four designated areas along the Backpacking and Perimeter trails. Adironack shelters are available at camping areas 1 and 2.
- Backpack Trail, hiking, backpacking,16 mi, moderate
- Cedar Trail Loop, hiking, .5 mi, easy
- Deer Ridge, hiking, .5 mi, moderate
- Fern Hill Trail, hiking, 1.4 mi, moderate
- Prairie Trail, hiking, .5 mi, easy
- Steven Newman Worldwalker Perimeter Trail, hiking, backpacking, bridle, 32 mi, moderate
- Tailwater, hiking, 2 mi, easy
- Whippoorwill Trail, hiking, .5 mi, easy
- Cascade Trail, bridle, hiking, 3 mi, moderate
- Pin Oak Trail, bridle, hiking, 3 mi, easy
- Red Fox Trail, bridle, 5 mi
- Twin Bridges Trail, bridle, hiking, 9 mi, moderate
Mountain Bike Trail, mtn biking, 9.6 miles total in two loops* novice to advanced.
*The first loop is a mixture of flat, smooth stretches and twisting turns through wooded areas, and is suited to novice to intermediate cyclists, while the second loop winds through steep hills and switchbacks, and is suited to advanced cyclists.
A portion of the North Country Trail follows the Buckeye Trail and both pass through East Fork State Park.
Under the proper conditions, park visitors can enjoy sledding, ice skating, ice fishing, and cross-country skiing.
History & Natural Features
East Fork State Park is home to the Little Miami River Basin, which possesses evidence of human activity dating back nearly 3,000 years ago. The Moundbuilders, specifically the Adena and Hopewell nations, occupied this area. The mound near Elklick Road is thought to have been built by the Adena. The Erie also lived here much later, though by 1655 this group had been completely wiped out by the powerful Iroquois. The area was virtually uninhabited through the remainder of the 17th century.
By the early 1800s, European Americans had begun to occupy the new state of Ohio from the east. The new settlers were attracted to the East Fork region and began early commercial activities such as grist mills, sawmills, blacksmith shops, tanneries, and stagecoach depots.
In 1869, two gold mines operated in the vicinity. One mine was located near Elklick and consisted of a flume for washing gravel containing flakes of gold. The mine near Twin Bridges tunneled underground to reach gold deposits encased in bedrock.
Not far from the park office is the site where Reverend John Collins built a log church around 1807. Although the structure no longer stands, some of the hand-hewn timbers, secured with wooden pegs and hand-forged nails, were used to construct the existing building, “Old Bethel Church” on Elklick Road.
In the late 20the century, the area took on a new appearance due to the creation of the East Fork Reservoir in 1978. As part of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers flood control program, William H. Hargus Lake, and the surrounding region, comprise one of southwest Ohio’s largest recreational areas. ODNR currently leases East Fork State Park from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Located in Clermont County, East Fork State Park is characterized by a landscape shaped by the forces of the Illinoian and Wisconsinan glaciers. The East Fork region exhibits beautiful hill country scenery and is noted for the occurrence of remnant prairie habitats. Illinoian glacial deposits are not common in Ohio, but they can be observed at East Fork and the surrounding area.
East Fork's diverse landscape includes dry-forested hills, rocky cascades, abandoned farmlands, thickly grown floodplains, marshy grasslands, and swamp forests. This diversity lends well to an abundance of plant and animal life. Woodlands are composed of beech, sugar maple, red and white oak, shagbark hickory, and wild black cherry. The swamp forests contain silver maple, American elm, sycamore, and black gum. The meadows and remnant prairies contain big bluestem grass and purple coneflower among others.
Animals of the area include eastern plains garter snake, fence lizard, red fox, deer, raccoon, Canada geese, song sparrow, eastern meadowlark, and the barn swallow.