Forested hills, a picturesque lake, and the Ohio River characterize 791-acre Forked Run State Park. Located in the heart of Appalachia, colorful history, scenic vistas, and abundant wildlife give the park its rural charm.
There is no horsepower limit but boats over 10HP must operate at a no-wake speed on this 120-acre lake.
Two launch ramps provide access to the lake. The ramp on Curtis Hollow Road offers no amenities. The boat ramp at the dam has tie-ups and is wheelchair accessible. A restroom is located at the beach parking lot. Seasonally canoes and kayaks can be rented from the Camp Office.
Forked Run State Park Campground offers Electric and Non-electric sites, Camper Cabins and a Group Camp.
The park features a 24-hole disc golf course. Bring your own equipment; no rentals are available.
Anglers will enjoy nice catches of crappie, largemouth bass, bluegill, and catfish.
Hunting is permitted in designated areas of the park and the nearby Shade River State Forest. Squirrel, deer, grouse, and wild turkey are popular game species in the area.
Several picnic areas offer tables and grills for relaxing gatherings.
Two shelterhouses can be reserved online or by calling (866) 644-6727.
The park features a 400-foot sand beach. Swimming is permitted in designated areas. Please exercise caution while swimming at the beach. Pets are NOT permitted on swimming beaches.
- BeachGuard — water quality alerts, Memorial Day to Labor Day, from the Ohio Dept. of Health
Three hiking trails provide opportunity for exploration, exercise, nature study, and wildlife observation.
- Honeysuckle Trail - 0.6 Mile - Easy
- Lakeview Trail - 2.2 Miles - Moderate
- Riverview Trail - 0.75 Mile - Moderate
When conditions permit, park visitors can enjoy sledding on several hills throughout the park.
More to Do
- Volleyball court and horseshoe pit
- Playgrounds in the campground and day use areas
History & Natural Features
The colorful history and folklore of the Ohio River has enhanced the natural character of the land surrounding the park. The Ohio River felt the pull of Native American paddles, served as a territorial boundary, carried flatboats and “steamers” that shipped passengers and cargo from Pittsburgh to New Orleans, and served as a gateway to the Northwest Territory.
The mouth of the Shade River, which empties into the Ohio River nearby, was known as a gloomy, rocky place called the Devil's Hole. Native Americans returning from their raids into western Virginia routinely crossed the Ohio River at that point with their prisoners and plunder. They would travel through the valley of the Shade River on the way to their towns on the Scioto. Settlement of the area was slow to develop until the Indian threat had subsided and the discovery of coal in the region provided means of support.
As mining increased, towns sprang up along the Ohio River. Pomeroy, Middleport, Minersville, and Syracuse were important mining centers. The coal was used to manufacture coke which in turn was used in the many furnaces that smelted iron ore from the surrounding sandstone bedrock. The ore resulted in iron used to produce agricultural implements, ammunition, and cannons for the Union Army during the Civil War. During the 1860s, Ohio was one of the nation's leading producers of iron.
Equally important to the prosperity of the area was the salt industry. The first salt well was drilled in 1850 near Pomeroy. Eighteen salt furnaces were in operation during their peak of importance. Nearly 3,600 barrels of salt were produced daily.
The villages of Reedsville and Belleville were important boat-building centers, and it was on this section of the Ohio River that Captain Horatio Crooks introduced the compound-cylinder steam engine.
John Hunt Morgan, the Confederate General, while on his raid through Ohio was hampered in his efforts here to escape into western Virginia. The local militia thwarted his effort to ford the Ohio near Pomeroy, and as a result, Morgan was eventually captured in Columbiana County.
Today, the area is known as a truck-farming center which produces crops of cabbage, melons, sweet corn, and the famous Ohio River tomatoes.
Construction of Forked Run State Park began in May of 1951. In October 1952, the 102-acre lake was completed. The lake was stocked and opened to the public in the following year.
Forked Run State Park lies in the forested hill country of southeastern Ohio. This landscape was never reached by the glacial ice that once covered much of Ohio. Although this area was untouched by the massive ice sheets, torrents of glacial meltwaters hastened the carving of the valleys and hillsides into their present-day form.
Much of the area, now heavily forested, was once void of timber. Trees were cut to fuel the many iron furnaces of the area in the mid 1800s. Today, much of the forest has regrown, and vast stands of oak, hickory, maple, and tuliptree clothe the deep ravines and hillsides. Wildflowers can be found in bloom except in winter months. Wild blue phlox, bloodroot, dame's rocket, cardinal flower, daisy fleabane, goldenrod, and asters provide colorful displays. In spring, the hillsides burst forth with brilliant blooms of dogwood and redbud.
In spring, hillsides feature the brilliant blooms of dogwood and redbud. Spring and summer brings brightly colored wildflowers to the meadows and forest floors including wild blue phlox, bloodroot, dame’s rocket, cardinal flower, daisy fleabane, goldenrod, and asters.
The forest and fields provide habitat for a variety of wildlife species including gray fox, raccoon, opossum, gray squirrel, white-tailed deer, and wild turkey. Many songbirds find refuge in the region. Birdwatchers will be treated to the sights and sounds of numerous birds including wood thrush, white-breasted nuthatch, scarlet tanager, pileated woodpecker, and whip-poor-wills.
The park is located adjacent to Shade River State Forest. Much of the forest’s 2,601 acres is second growth pitch pine and Virginia pine. The area is also rich in hardwoods such as oaks and hickories. Hemlock and mountain laurel are found in some of the deep gorges.