Location & Description
This 421-acre wildlife area lies 4 miles west of Athens. County and township roads provide access from U.S. Route 50 and State Routes 56 and 681. The boat launching ramp is reached from County Road 81 at the upper end of the lake. The wildlife area includes rolling hills, woods, open fields, and two water areas. Situated among wooded hillsides is 48-acre Fox Lake. A small pond is on the northeast corner of the area. More than half of the area is wooded. Oak and hickory are the most common tree species, with lesser numbers of beech and maple. Fifteen percent of the area is brushland, primarily sassafras and sumac. Another 25 percent is openland.
History & Purpose
Land acquisition was begun in 1966 by the Margaret’s Creek Watershed Conservancy District and the Division of Wildlife. The dam was constructed by the Conservancy District in late 1967 and early 1968. The land and water area is owned and managed by the Division of Wildlife for fish and wildlife management purposes. Fox Lake is one of six impoundments within the Margaret’s Creek Watershed which provide regional flood control. The dam is designed to retain large quantities of water during flood periods and to release the water at a standard rate of flow through a fixed-sized outlet. Wildlife management work includes protection and improvement of existing woodlands and the selective maintenance of shrubland and openland. Hunting and fishing are the major recreational uses, along with nature study, hiking, boating, and bird watching.
Fox Lake has been stocked with largemouth bass, channel catfish, bluegills, and redear sunfish. The lake also contains populations of black bullheads and common suckers. Rabbit, gray and fox squirrels, ruffed grouse, woodchuck, and deer are the principal game species. Lesser numbers of waterfowl and woodcock occur, primarily as migrant visitors. Beaver are well established in the lake and all furbearers common to the region are found here. More than 50 species of nesting birds have been recorded on this area of mixed habitat types.
Hunting and fishing are the major recreational uses, along with nature study, hiking, boating, and bird watching. The most popular hunting is for rabbits and squirrels. Ruffed grouse hunting and deer hunting are also popular. Meadows and brushy fields are prime spots for rabbits. Scattered oak-hickory groves provide more than 200 acres of good squirrel hunting. The mixed brushland and woodland cover types afford the best grouse hunting. Deer trails throughout the area make it particularly attractive to bow hunters. Muskrats are most abundant in the marsh at the upper end of the lake. A limited number of waterfowl and other migratory game birds can be found. Woodchucks occur throughout the area. As in most lakes, bass fishing is at its peak in April and May. At this time the best fishing is in the upper half of the lake, in the stumpy area and above. Night fishing with surface plugs is also productive in the upper end. Later in the year the best bass fishing is in the lower and mid-lake, and in the old stream channel. Channel catfish and bluegills are abundant throughout the lake. Boat fishing is permitted with electric motors only. Large rock outcrops known as “cradle in the rock” by local residents form small cave-type shelters on the north side of the lake, and are an attraction to boaters and hikers alike. The rocks were formed in the Pennsylvanian period of the Paleozoic era, approximately 300 million years ago. They consist of Brush Creek limestone, Buffalo sandstone, and upper and lower bed Brush Creek shales. The “cradle in the rock” is in the Buffalo sandstone, which overlies the upper and lower Brush Creek limestones. A boat ramp is located off the Fox Lake Road (County Road 81) entrance. A handicapped accessible fishing pier is located near the ramp. Fox Lake has a 10 horsepower limit for outboard motors.