In pioneer times, the beech-maple forest belt in Ohio was extensive and stretched from Mansfield to Pittsburgh. The West Branch area contains numerous bogs filled with buttonbush, alder, skunk cabbage, and swamp white oak. The stand of beech-maple woodlands harbor a variety of plant and animal life.
Visitors can traverse the park's woods and meadows by foot, bike, or horseback via miles of scenic trails, including a link to the statewide Buckeye Trail. For visitors who prefer to spend time on the water, the large lake (Michael J. Kirwan Reservoir) offers launch ramps, dock rentals, a marina, and two boat swimming areas. Other facilities include a full-service campground, 18-hole disc golf course, and a dog park.
The 2,650-acre lake is designated for unlimited horsepower. A no-wake zone extends 300 feet from all shorelines. The entire area west of Rock Spring Road causeway is also a no-wake zone.
- West Branch Marina — A concessionaire operates out of the marina each season. Boat rentals, gasoline, ice, food, and other supplies are available for purchase. (330) 296-9209
Five launch ramps provide access to the lake; one is in the campground:
- East Boat Ramp: Two paved lanes, ample parking, and lighting. A restroom with flush toilets is also available.
- West Boat Ramp: Two paved lanes, ample parking, lighting, and a life jacket loaner board. A unisex vault latrine is available.
- Camp Ramp (for registered campers only ): Two paved lanes, ample parking, lighting, and a life jacket loaner board. A vault latrine is available at the south end of the ramp.
- Rock Spring Road Ramp: A gravel ramp is located on the north end of the lake off of Rock Spring Road. A unisex non flush restroom is available as well as ample parking.
- Knapp Road Ramp: A primitive gravel ramp is located at the west end of the lake.
Seasonal docks located by the Marina are rented by the park office each year through a lottery process. Dock 9 is handicap accessible.
There are two boat swimming areas: Silver Creek Bay, southwest of the beach, and Jay Lake, across from the Camp Ramp.
West Branch State Park Campground offers Full Hook-up and Electric camping sites. Three Group sites are available in the campground. The campground has its own small beach and a boat launch. A separate Equestrian campground has non-electric sites.
An 18-hole disc golf course is available near the beach and a 9-hole course can be found in the campground area. Discs and bags can be rented seasonally from the camp office.
Dog Park with Pond
A dog park with a swimming pond is located on Rock Spring Road just south of State Route 5.
Year-round fishing at West Branch offers large and smallmouth bass, walleye, crappie, bluegill, catfish, and trophy-class muskellunge. Fishing access is available at three paved and two gravel launch areas as well as numerous shoreline access points.
- A wheelchair-accessible fishing pier is located by the marina.
- Ohio fishing regulations apply.
- A valid Ohio fishing license is required (16 and older).
Parts of the park are open for hunting, in season, with small game, waterfowl, and deer being most common. The northeastern section of the park, bound on the west by Rock Spring Road and on the south by the lakeshore, is closed to hunting. This no-hunting area includes the park office, camp area, horse camp, picnic areas, beach, marina, dam, and East Boat Ramp. A 400-foot no hunting/safety zone extends from all other developed facilities. Target shooting is prohibited.
Picnic tables and charcoal grills are available for public use at the West Ramp, East Ramp, marina, beach, Picnic Area A, and Picnic Area B. All picnic areas have access to restrooms.
West Branch State Park offers six pavilions; each is approximately 30’ x 20’ and holds eight picnic tables with charcoal grills nearby. The pavilions are within 100 yards of a restroom and provide visitors with a lake view and fishing access.
The park offers a 700-foot sand beach with restrooms, changing booths, outdoor showers, and vending machines. Picnic tables and charcoal grills available for public use. Swimming is permitted in designated areas. Please exercise caution while swimming at the beach. Pets are NOTpermitted on swimming beaches.
- BeachGuard — Water quality advisories, Memorial Day to Labor Day, from Ohio Dept. of Health
- 14 miles of hiking trails. A portion of the state's Buckeye Trail passes through the park and is linked to the campground by a 2-mile spur trail.
- 20 miles of bridle trails traverse woodlands and meadows. Riders must provide their own horses.
- Seasonal mountain biking is permitted on snowmobile trails and designated single track trail. After leaving the parking area and riding up to Cable Line Road, there are six loops that provide approximately 12 miles of single track and double track.
Under the proper winter conditions, park guests can enjoy cross-country skiing, ice fishing, and ice boating. In addition, extensive snowmobile trails start at the west boat ramp.
More to Do
- Volleyball court
History & Natural Features
West Branch State Park is located on the west branch of the Mahoning River in Portage County. The river was named for the Delaware Tribe word mahonink meaning "at the salt lick." In early days, a salt works was located southeast of present-day Warren along the river. The salt, which attracted a variety of wildlife, was harvested by Indians and early settlers.
At the west end of the park is a crossroads known as Campbellsport, named for Captain John Campbell who mustered militia for the War of 1812 at the site and then marched them on Cleveland. Captain Campbell originally came to the area in 1805 as a surveyor and land agent for proprietor Samuel Hinckley. Captain Campbell also served as Portage County sheriff from 1810 to 1813. He constructed what is said to be the oldest brick land-office building in Ohio (circa 1810). Prior to the flooding of the reservoir, this building was moved to a site at the Portage County Historical Society where it has been preserved and restored.
In 1965, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completed construction of the Michael J. Kirwan Reservoir. The reservoir was developed for flood control, water supply, recreation and fish and wildlife management. West Branch State Park was formally opened surrounding the reservoir in 1966.
West Branch State Park in Portage County is situated on the glaciated plateau of northeastern Ohio. Although the land was uplifted as part of the Appalachian Mountain building process, the glaciers were able to override the gentle hills of the plateau. Huge ice blocks broke free from the glaciers and kettle lakes formed as the blocks melted. Eventually, these lakes filled with sediment leaving boggy wetlands with unique assemblages of plants. The West Branch area contains numerous bogs filled with buttonbush, alder, skunk cabbage and swamp white oak.
Another natural feature of the park is the stand of beech-maple forest. In pioneer times, the beech-maple belt in Ohio was very extensive and stretched across the plateau from Mansfield to Pennsylvania. These woodlands harbor a variety of plant and animal life. Woodland wildflowers such as Dutchman's breeches, bloodroot and trillium are found here. Red fox, skunk, opossum and raccoon find the park's habitat suitable. Songbirds occupy the leafy canopy of the woodlands while waterfowl and shorebirds dabble in the reservoir.