Originally inhabited by the Shawnee, the area surrounding Van Buren State Park is rich in woods and agricultural lands. The park's 296 acres offer a calm, peaceful retreat with camping, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, and picnicking opportunities that can be enjoyed year-round.
Hand-powered vessels and electric-only boats are permitted on the 45-acre lake. A grass launch area is located at the north parking area on Township Road 229.
Van Buren State Park Campground is a peaceful, quiet loop. It offers 50-amp electric sites and non-electric sites -- several perfect for tent camping. Pets are permitted on all sites. Many sites are partially shaded.
A fenced dog park area on the south side of the park offers a place for your pets to frolic without a leash.
The 18-hole disc golf course is located throughout the day-use and north shore areas. The course begins and ends at the west end picnic area; a map is displayed on the kiosk. Some tees are grass and some are concrete pads. Bring your own discs; rental equipment is not available. No fee is charged to play.
The course was designed by Dale Wirt of Findlay, and traverses open picnic areas, wooded pines, rolling terrain along the lake shore and shaded areas throughout the park. The renovations were sponsored by several local businesses and the Friends of Van Buren State Park.
Van Buren Lake is a small, quiet place to fish. Catches of largemouth bass, channel catfish, crappie, bullhead, bluegill and carp await the skilled angler.
Park property east of Township Road 229 is designated for archery hunting only, in accordance with state laws.
Several picnic areas are situated in scenic locations throughout the park.
Three shelterhouses can be reserved online or by calling (866) 644-6727.
The trailhead for the hiking trails is the southside parking lot.
- Scarlet Haw Trail — 1.5 Miles — Moderate
- Pine Glenn Loop Trail — 0.5 Mile — Moderate
- Lakeshore Trail — 3 Miles — Moderate
- Purple Trail — 2 Miles — Moderate
Hikers are also permitted on the mountain biking and bridle trails.
Three miles of mostly single-track mountain bike trails meander through the south shore woods providing both novice and intermediate riders with scenic views of Van Buren Lake and woodlands while crossing the boardwalks over ravines and offering some challenging features. Trailhead begins at the South Shore Picnic Area parking lot.
- Green Trail — 1.2 Miles
- Blue Trail — 1.7 Miles
Bridle trailhead is found in the day-use bridle area.
- Red Trail - 2.5 Miles
- Pink Trail - 4 Miles
- White Trail - 2 Miles
- Yellow Trail - 3 Miles
Under the proper winter conditions, park guests can enjoy cross-country skiing, ice skating, and ice fishing.
More to Do
- Volleyball courts and horseshoe pits available at some picnic areas
History & Natural Features
The Van Buren State Park region was originally inhabited by the Shawnee tribe. Banished from their homeland in south-central Ohio, this was the last stronghold of the tribe before they eventually departed for lands west of the Mississippi River. Native American artifacts and relics can still be found on what used to be Indian Island, located in the northwest section of the lake.
Van Buren is located just north of the town of Findlay which was founded in 1821. The development of the town was quite slow until the discovery of natural gas in the 1880s. A German physician named Charles Osterlen became convinced that an enormous reservoir of natural gas lay beneath the town of Findlay. He told of his belief and was scoffed at and regarded as a vain dreamer. But his patience and perseverance prevailed as he succeeded in organizing a stock company to drill for gas. The well was successful and spawned the growth of a great industry in Findlay. At one time, Findlay claimed the largest gas well in the world, with an output of 20 million cubic feet daily.
The land comprising Van Buren State Park was originally set aside as a wildlife preserve. In 1939, a dam was constructed over Rocky Ford Creek to provide additional fish and wildlife resources. In 1950, the area was turned over to Ohio State Parks. It has been maintained as a state park ever since. The park was named for Martin Van Buren, the eighth President of the United States.
Van Buren State Park lies in the rich agricultural plains of northwest Ohio. The plains, referred to as till plains, are named for the glacial debris, or till, which covers preglacial hills and valleys. Most hills in these areas are mounds of boulders and soil left by the retreating Wisconsinan glacier. Beneath the almost continuous cover of glacial deposits lies sedimentary bedrock which, in this region, is mostly limestone with a little shale. Much of this limestone is the magnesium-bearing form called dolomite.
Before settlement, the area was mostly woodland. Today, much of the vegetation consists of agricultural crops such as corn, soybeans and wheat. Today, a small remnant of the original woodland remains. Beech and sugar maple occupy a large portion of the park’s wooded area. Mammals found in the area include red fox, red squirrel, white-tailed deer, raccoon, skunk and opossum. Other animals found include eastern garter snake, spring peeper, eastern bluebird, eastern meadowlark, cowbird, woodcock and short-eared owl. Wildflowers abound in the fields and woodlands of the area. Dutchman’s breeches, spring beauty, thimbleweed, daisy fleabane and chicory are commonly found throughout the park.