Located in the midst of gently rolling hills in northwest Ohio, the 142-acre Harrison Lake State Park offers wooded splendor in an agricultural region. Harrison Lake is a popular spot for swimming, fishing, camping, and paddling.
Harrison Lake State Park Campground offers a mix of Electric and Non-electric sites. Pets are permitted on all sites. Sites may be reserved up to six months in advance online or by calling (866) 644-6727.
All types of boats are permitted on the 105-acre lake. While there are no limits on motorized horsepower, all motor boats must operate at no-wake speed.
- One launch ramp provides access to the lake. It is ADA compliant.
- Two ADA-friendly courtesy docks are also available.
- Boat rentals are available from the campground check-in office.
Dog Swim Area
A dog swim are is located near the campground.
Largemouth and smallmouth bass, crappie, bluegill, bullhead catfish, northern pike, and carp can be taken from Harrison Lake.
Late season waterfowl hunting is permitted on the lake; shoreline hunting is not permitted. Call the park office for open dates.
Several quiet picnic areas with tables and grills are located in scenic areas throughout the park.
Three shelterhouses can be reserved online or by calling (866) 644-6727. If not reserved, they are available first-come, first-served.
The park offers a 150-foot swimming beach. Swimming is permitted in designated areas. Please exercise caution while swimming at the beach. Pets are not permitted on the swimming beach; a dog swim area is west of the beach.
- BeachGuard — water quality alerts, Memorial Day to Labor Day, from the Ohio Dept. of Health
Several hiking trails, totaling about 3.5 miles, give visitors a chance to explore the park's scenic lakeshore and woodlands.
The park features a free 9-hole disc golf course is near the North Shelterhouse.
More to Do
- Volleyball and basketball courts and horseshoe pits.
- Nature programs are offered during the summer months.
- Bicycle rental is available from the campground check-in office.
When conditions permit, park visitors can enjoy sledding at the east end of the lake, cross-country skiing, and ice fishing.
History & Natural Features
Originally, Lake Erie was much larger than it is today--stretching from western New York to Fort Wayne, Indiana. The Harrison Lake region was, at that time, under the waters of Lake Erie. As Lake Erie receded to its present size, the area formerly underwater reverted to swamplands. This swamp (120 miles long and 30 to 40 miles wide) became known as the Great Black Swamp due to the color of the soil and dark shade beneath the giant trees.
For many years, the swamp was a tremendous barrier to western settlement. Most settlers avoided the area, traveling around the swamp via Lake Erie to reach southern Michigan. The Ottawa Indians settled only near the well-drained lands beside the Maumee River and its tributaries. The swamp was the last area to be settled in Ohio. It served as a reservation for Native Americans until they were forced out in 1842. It was not until the development of soil drainage techniques in the 1850s that large numbers of settlers moved here.
Even today, northwestern Ohio remains one of the most sparsely populated regions of the state, although it is one of Ohio's richest agricultural regions.
In 1836, the U.S. Congress and the Ohio Legislature finally settled a 10-year argument with the state of Michigan as to the location of the Ohio-Michigan border. For years, both states claimed ownership of a strip of land 11 miles wide that extended from the mouth of the Maumee River near Toledo to the Ohio border with Indiana. Today's Ohio-Michigan boundary is the one agreed upon in 1836. Had Congress favored Michigan's claim in that year, Harrison Lake State Park would be located in Michigan.
In 1941, a dam over Mill Creek was completed and Harrison Lake was created. The lake and surrounding area were maintained primarily for hunting and fishing purposes until 1950 when Harrison Lake was established as a state park.
The area comprising Harrison Lake State Park was at one time part of a vast wetland. This mysterious area contained towering trees and soggy black soil and was a haven for the swamp rattlesnake (or massasauga, as it is also known). Very little remains of that once great swamp, but the park still harbors unique natural features associated with wetlands.
Great blue herons and common egrets can be sighted at the lake's shallow western end. Numerous songbirds -- such as the vesper sparrow, common yellowthroat, and brown thrasher -- inhabit the park's meadows and woodlands. Several species of reptiles and amphibians find the park's habitat suitable. Box turtles, painted turtles, garter snakes, green frogs. and American toads are found here. Small mammals such as red fox, raccoon, skunk, and the uncommon thirteen-lined ground squirrel are frequently seen.