Located in eastern Ohio, Salt Fork State Park encompasses a diverse and beautiful landscape featuring forested hills, open meadows and misty valleys decorated with winding streams. This magnificent state park is Ohio’s largest state park, with 17,229 acres of recreational facilities including an extensive trail system, available to visitors.
Lodge & Cabins
The Salt Fork Lodge and Conference Center is a spacious retreat offering impressive views of the lake and rolling hills.
Salt Fork Lodge and Conference Center, scenically overlooking the lake, offers 148 guest rooms. Facilities a dining room, coffee shop, snack bar, gift shop, lounge and lobby areas, and indoor game area. The lodge's meeting rooms can special events and conferences for up to 450 people.
Lodge and cottage guests can enjoy indoor and outdoor swimming pools, sauna, the tennis, volleyball, basketball, and shuffleboard courts, 400-foot swimming beach, as well as boat launching and docking facilities.
Salt Fork offers two types of cabins available all year. Both are two-bedroom cabins in hillside and lakeside locations offer fully furnished living and dining areas, kitchen equipped with cooking and eating utensils, bath with shower, and screened porch. The chalet cabins also feature gas log fireplaces and hot tubs. Pets are permitted in select cabins, call (740) 435-9000 for details.
The park has a 12-station walk-through range on Park Road 1 near the entrance to the campground. Stations 1 through 11 are field tip only and station 12 accommodates broadhead tips.
Boats with unlimited horsepower are permitted on the 2,952-acre lake. Combined speed/ski zones are marked by buoys. There are 8 boat launching ramps on the lake. Boaters may camp on their boats in no-wake zones within 50 yards of shore. Swimming from boats is permitted in designated areas only.
Two marinas are open seasonally and include 469 rental docks, comfort stations, gasoline fuel stations, parking facilities, concession areas and a variety of rental boats.
- Sugartree Marina, 740-439-4009 (managed by Great Ohio Lodges)
- Salt Fork Marina, 740-432-8883 (managed by Salt Fork State Park)
The large campground offers sites for all sizes of RVs and also offers some tent only sites. Reserve online or by calling (866) 644-6727.
Amenities at Salt Fork State Park Campground include:
- Sites include full hook-up, 50-amp electric and some tent only with electricity.
- Some sites are wheelchair accessible (C Loop).
- Pets are permitted on all sites.
- Heated shower houses, flush toilets, and dump station
- Separate beach, boat launching and docking facilities for campers
- A primitive camping area offers 22 walk-in sites (no electric).
Salt Fork also offers 40 primitive equestrian campsites.
The park offers a dog park, about an acre in size, with lake access for dogs to play and swim off-leash. There is a picnic table within the area with room for guests to bring their own camp/lawn chairs.
Sizable populations of largemouth bass, crappies, bluegills, walleyes and muskellunge are present. Fishing hotspots include many small bays as well as an artificial reef on the north branch of the lake. A valid Ohio fishing license is required.
Salt Fork features a top-rated 18-hole golf course with a practice putting green, driving range, pro shop and snack bar. A shelterhouse is available for reservations. Tee time reservations are recommended and can be made online or by calling (740) 432-7185.
Hunting is permitted on designated areas. Check-in with park or wildlife officers for delineation of these areas. An ODNR Division of Wildlife office is located near the main park entrance. A valid Ohio hunting license is required.
Cottontail rabbit, gray and fox squirrels, deer, grouse, quail, woodchuck, raccoon, mink, muskrat, beaver, wild turkey and waterfowl are abundant.
Several picnic areas with tables and grills available in scenic locations around the lake. Three ADA accessible picnic areas with hard surfaced paths, accessible latrines, parking and tables; one is located at the golf course, and two at the horse camp.
The park’s 2,500-foot public swimming beach is one of the largest inland beaches in Ohio and offers enjoyment for swimmers and sunbathers. A concession stand and showerhouse are available to visitors. Swimming is permitted during daylight hours only. Visitors swim at their own risk.
There are 14 scenic hiking trails in the park:
- Forest Crest Nature Trail - 0.32 Miles - easy
- Archery Trail - .29 Mile - easy
- Deer Run Trail - 1.5 Miles - moderate
- Valley Brook Loop Trail - 0.8 Miles - moderate
- Hosak's Cave Trail - 0.1 Miles - moderate
- Sunshine Brook Nature Loop Trail - 0.53 Miles - moderate
- Morgans Knob Loop Trail - 0.84 Miles - moderate
- Morgans Knob Trail - 0.62 Miles - moderate
- Pine Crest Loop Trail - 1 Mile - moderate
- Beach Point Trail - 1 Mile - moderate
- Stone House Trail - .81 Miles - moderate
- Gunn's Glen Trail - 2 Miles - moderate
- Shadebush Trail - 1.9 Miles - moderate
- Portion of theBuckeye Trail - 6.86 miles
A moderate 19-mile trail is available for snowmobiling.
Seasonally, equestrians can enjoy 72 miles of bridle trail (moderate).
Under the proper winter conditions, park guests can enjoy sledding, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, ice skating, ice fishing, and ice boating.
More to Do
- A miniature golf course is located at the beach, near the park's nature center; it is open Memorial Day to Labor Day.
- Playgrounds are found in the campground and at the beach.
- Kennedy Stone House, a historic place built from stones quarried nearby, offers a look back to 1837.
History & Natural Features
Salt Fork is said to have derived its name from a salt well used by Native Americans, located near the southeastern corner of the park. This area was one of the first areas in Ohio to be settled by pioneers. Some of these settlers followed Zane’s Trace into the Ohio wilderness - a route which led them into the Guernsey County area. From Zanesville east to the Ohio River, the Trace became part of the National Road, a major east-west transportation route constructed in 1811. Today, the old National Road is known as U.S. Route 40 and passes near Salt Fork State Park.
One early resident of Guernsey County, Benjamin Kennedy, constructed a beautiful stone house overlooking Sugar Tree Fork in 1837. Built from locally-quarried stone, the Kennedy Stone House is a sturdy reminder of bygone days. Because of its unique and enduring construction, the house is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and can be visited most weekends from May until October.
As the 19th Century progressed, industry continued to develop in Ohio, and many of the southeastern Ohio counties came into prominence as coal-producing areas. Responding to the demand for this important fuel source, Guernsey County became one of Ohio's leading coal producers. Abundant reserves of clay allowed the development of a thriving pottery industry in the county as well.
Plans for developing the lake began in 1956. The reservoir was originally slated to become a water source for the city of Cambridge, but the potential for the area to become a major recreation area in the state was so great that, in 1960, land acquisition was begun to create a state park. The earthen dam was completed in 1967, and construction of recreational facilities began in mid 1968. The spacious Salt Fork Lodge was opened in May 1972.
Before settlement, Ohio was a vast wild forest stretching from the Appalachian Mountains to the Great Plains. Towering oak, hickory, beech, maple, walnut, chestnut and ash trees (some more than 150 feet tall) were rooted in the fertile soil. By 1900, most of Ohio’s original forest was decimated and in its place grew wheat, corn, oats, hay and thriving cities.
Through conservation efforts over the past few decades, a magnificent regrowth has occurred. Today, nearly 30 percent of the state is once again supporting a thriving forest. This is most evident in the rugged, unglaciated hill region of southeastern Ohio including Salt Fork State Park. The park features diverse flora and fauna. White-tailed deer, wild turkey, ruffed grouse, red fox, gray squirrels and barred owls are well established here. Songbirds, such as the scarlet tanager, cardinal, goldfinch, Kentucky warbler and others, are a delight for park visitors to see and hear. Spectacular wildflowers, such as wild geranium, large-flowered trillium, violets, asters and goldenrod, line the forest floor and meadows. In the spring, the melody of wood frogs, chorus frogs and spring peepers echo along the park’s trails.
Salt Fork is said to have derived its name from a salt well used by Native Americans which was located near the southeastern corner of the park. Salt Fork lies in the unglaciated portion of the state. Throughout the area, thick-bedded, erosion resistant sandstone or conglomerate overlays more erosive siltstone, shale, coal and limestone layers, resulting in shelter caves, such as Hosak's Cave, along with small waterfalls in the secondary drainages. Other interesting geologic features around the park are massive blocks of sandstone that have become detached, due to differential weathering, and toppled down slope.