Located between Columbus and Mansfield, Mt. Gilead State Park provides the charm of a small, secluded park, while offering many of the amenities found at larger parks. Mt. Gilead's wildflowers, wildlife, and woodlands offer year-round wonder for hikers and nature lovers. The small lake is perfect for paddling or dropping a line to catch bass or bluegill. A picturesque gazebo and several shelters offer a perfect setting for weddings and family reunions.
The 13.5-acre Mt. Gilead Lake allows paddle craft and sailboats and boats with electric motors only.
The cozy Mt. Gilead State Park Campground offers Full Hookup sites as well as 50/30-amp Electric sites. Pets are permitted on most campsites. Reservations are required and can be made online or by calling (866) 644-6727.
A 9-hole disc golf course may be enjoyed by visitors in day-use areas of the park. Equipment rental is not available.
Mt. Gilead Lake offers great fishing for bass, bluegill and other panfish.
Five picnic areas are located in the park, four on the south side of the park and one at the entrance off Route 42.
Several unpaved multi-use trails allow hiking, running and horseback riding:
- Big Oak Trail — 0.4 mil
- Bridle Trail — 1.5 miles
- Lake View Trail — 1.7 miles
- Spring Trail — 0.3 mile
- Whetstone Loop — 0.8 mile
- Whetstone Trail — 0.8 mile
In the proper winter conditions, park guests can enjoy ice skating, cross-country skiing, and ice fishing.
More to Do
Volleyball court, horseshoe pits, shuffle board court, corn toss, basketball court, and playground may be enjoyed by visitors in day-use areas of the park. Equipment may be rented from store.
History & Natural Features
The first permanent settlers came into the Morrow County after the close of the War of 1812. The first gristmill and sawmill were built on Whetstone Creek in 1821. The town of Mt. Gilead, the county seat, served as a major stop on the underground railroad prior to the Civil War. In more recent history, an oil boom occurred in Morrow County. In 1961, a well was drilled on the Orrie Myers' property that produced 200 barrels a day. As a result of that wells success, 30 to 40 wells are drilled in Morrow County annually.
The first lake at Mt. Gilead was built in 1919 on the upper level of Sam's Creek. On July 10, 1930, a larger lake was completed below the first one on this same tributary of Whetstone Creek. The recreational area was originally under the supervision of the Bureau of Engineering. In 1949, it was turned over to the newly formed Ohio Department of Natural Resources to be maintained as a state park. From 2015 through 2018, the dams on the lake were redesigned to allow a more natural flow of water. The upper dam is now an open spillway, traversable by a foot bridge over the structure. The lower dam was redesigned and fortified as a labyrinth spillway, also with a pedestrian bridge over the structure.
The wealth of natural wonders found at Mt Gilead State Park can be traced back to the Ice Age -- a time when two-thirds of Ohio was frozen land covered with glacial ice, nearly a mile thick in places. During this age many changes occurred in the Ohio landscape: the stream systems were altered, topography changed and the Great Lakes were formed. The glaciers left Ohio a legacy of valuable natural resources.
In the vicinity of Mt. Gilead, three end moraines (linear ridges of glacial sediment deposited along the ice edge) converged and account for the rolling terrain of the park.
Today, Mt. Gilead harbors a beautiful stand of second growth beech-maple forest. The mature woodlands provide a glimpse of what Ohio looked like to early settlers. Wildflowers, such as wild geranium, hepatica, trillium and bloodroot, carpet the forest floor each spring. The leafy canopy is occupied by the wood thrush, white-breasted nuthatch, Carolina wren and other songbirds. Skunk, raccoon, white-tailed deer and a variety of other mammals make this park their home.