Rocky Fork State Park is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts in southwest Ohio. The region’s natural beauty can be enjoyed along the park’s hiking trails. Nearby, a scenic gorge, dolomite caves and natural wetlands add to the popularity of this recreation area.
Popular with boaters and water skiers, the 2,080-acre lake offers unlimited horsepower boating along with a marina, docks, and multiple boat ramps. With several fishing piers, Rocky Fork will give anglers a chance to test their skill catching a variety of fish.
Overnight options include a campground, group camping and the Dovetail Activity Area.
The 2,080-acre offers unlimited horsepower boating. There are six boat launch ramps: North Shore Marina, South Beach, Fisherman’s Wharf, East Shore Drive, East Shore Marina and in the Campground. The lake also features designated areas for boat camping and swimming.
North Beach Marina offers fuel near the North Shore Beach Area. The park offers more than 700 docks; contact the park office regarding seasonal or overnight rental docks.
A full-service campground offers electric, non-electric and full hook-up campsites suitable for trailers and tents at the northwest corner of the lake. Pets are permitted on all sites. Find more details on Rocky Fork State Park Campground.
The park features an 18-hole disc golf course at the South Beach. Rental equipment is available and there is no fee to play. Practice 7 holes of disc golf at the campground.
Anglers will enjoy excellent catches of bass, bluegill, crappie, saugeye, white bass, channel catfish, and flathead catfish up to 40 pounds.
- A wheelchair accessible fishing pier is located on the southeast side of the lake.
- Ohio fishing regulations apply.
- A valid Ohio fishing license is required (16 and older).
Hunting is permitted in season in designated areas. An official hunting map is available in the park office and on-line.
Six picnic areas are located on the north and east shores in wooded areas overlooking the lake.
Two large public beaches provide 800 feet of lake access for swimming on the north and south sides of the lake. Restrooms are available nearby. A boat swim area is available for boaters. Swimming is permitted during daylight hours only. Swim at your own risk. Pets are NOT permitted on swimming beaches.
- BeachGuard — Water quality advisories, Memorial Day to Labor Day, from Ohio Dept. of Health
- Buckeye Pavilion Shelter — Open 44' x 28' shelter with 2 electric outlets (110-amp), small grill, 8-10 picnic tables, parking for up to 30 vehicles nearby close to restrooms, lake, and playgrounds. Adjacent to campground behind camp store.
- Dovetail Shelter — Open 67' x 40' shelter on a paved site is ADA accessible, electric is available, 8-10 picnic tables, parking for up to 40 vehicles, close to restrooms, lake, and playgrounds, and basketball course. Located at Dovetail Group camping area.
- South Beach Shelter— Open 20’ x 22' shelter with grills, 6 picnic tables, parking for up to 50 vehicles, close to restrooms, lake, beach, playground, and fishing areas. This shelter is first come, first served.
- Sycamore Grove Shelter — Open 44' x 28' shelter with 8 picnic tables, grills. Close to restrooms, docks, and lake. Accessible fishing pier located nearby.
Two hiking trails takes visitors through cool woodlands, scenic gorges, wetlands, and to a bird watching observation station.
- Bird Observation Trail - 1/3 Mile - easy
- Deer Loop Trail - 1 Mile - moderate
When conditions permit, park guests can enjoy sledding.
More to Do
- Playgrounds can be found at the campground, North Beach, and South Beach
- Fort Hill, Serpent Mound, and Adena State Memorial are located nearby
History & Natural Features
Rocky Fork State Park is an area steeped in Ohio’s rich Native American history. The land provided abundant game and a ready transportation system in the nearby creeks and rivers. These same streams provided access to the Rocky Fork area for the first settlers. Plentiful water attracted a number of millwrights to the Highland County region. During the 1800s and early 1900s, at least six different mill sites were established along Rocky Fork’s banks. These mills were not only used to grind flour, but also cut lumber, carded wool, and wove blankets.
In 1897, surveyors for a proposed railroad came to the countryside that would one day be the park. Local people had high hopes that the new “Black Diamond” rail line would deliver their milled goods to new markets and bring prosperity to the area. A depot, complete with stockyard and telegraph office, was supposed to be built in Rainsboro, and a town was planned near McCoppin’s (at that time Costello’s) Mill. Unfortunately, the “Black Diamond” never passed the planning stages and the new town never came to be.
The eastern part of Highland County was a resort location for many years. The “Seven Caves” and nearby Rocky Fork Gorge attracted visitors even in the mid-1800s. At the turn of the century, Colonel Walter H. Hutchins, a regular visitor to the area from Cincinnati, first dreamed of creating a lake near McCoppin’s Mill.
Ohio’s Division of Conservation acquired the land in the 1940s and began dam construction in 1949. Rocky Fork became a state park in 1950 and the first water spilled over the dam in April 1953. Since that summer, the lake has become a favorite of both anglers and water sports enthusiasts.
Nestled in Highland County, Rocky Fork State Park derives its name from the stream flowing through the park. Present-day Rocky Fork Creek flows through an ancient valley that was blocked by glacial ice more than 12,000 years ago. The stream reversed direction and rapidly cut a 75-foot gorge, as seen nearby today. The native wildflower, Sullivantia, which is extremely rare in Ohio, blooms in the gorge.
Caves in the region formed as rainwater, trickling through the limestone, dissolved the bedrock. Dolomite limestone is particularly vulnerable to this type of weathering.
Rocky Fork provides habitat for numerous waterfowl, songbirds, raccoons, skunk, red fox, and white-tailed deer. The wetlands in the park are home to the green frog, bullfrog, opossum, and muskrat.