Thursday, April 24, 2014
Ride To East Fork State Park
Easter Sunday was absolutely beautiful this year and the lush green countryside kept calling to me. And since it was Sunday, my favorite day to ride, I took off on the Buddy with no particular destination in mind.
On Olive Branch Road I passed this low-lying log cabin situated on a little fishing lake. I stopped to admire the view and watch some ducks paddle over the pond's glassy surface:
About 25 miles east of my neck of the woods in Clermont County is the East Fork Lake State Park. I decided to head out that way and do a little exploring.
The East Fork Lake is an "artificial" lake, which means years ago the Army Corps of Engineers basically flooded the valley and farmland and created this huge lake. Kind of like they did in "Deliverance" when they flooded the land to make that huge lake. Kind of fascinating, kind of creepy.
No banjos today, thankfully!
Anyway, the park has several access points and I entered it from the area where the camping sites are, which is off of Old SR 32.
Sadly all these camping sites are occupied by concrete parking pads for RVs! No tent camping so there went any idea of riding out here and camping solo or with a group on scoots! Boo hoo...
They do have primitive backpacking camping on the other side of the park, but I am a bit timid for that. Particularly since there have been multiple Big Foot sightings around the park! No, I am not kidding!
So I entered the park from Old SR 32 between Williamsburg and Batavia and parked my scoot at the camp store, hoping to get some maps and learn more about the park:
Here at the camp store I bought a tee shirt with a heron on it and a Payday bar and some lemonade to wet my whistle. The lady in the shop was very nice and offered me lots of information about the area.
I honestly had not been here in a few years and so got a good overview of what all is at the lake: boating, fishing, camping, hiking, mountain biking trails, a paved bike trail, horseback riding, and miniature golf to name a few of the many things to do at the lake. Also bird watching and Squatching should be added to the glossy brochure IMO!
I left the camp store and headed out into the camp site area to see what it was like. There were many sites and many of them were "pet friendly". The settings were quiet and nicely nestled back among the the trees and grassy slopes.
I counted very few campers and all of course in RVs. Lots of crepe myrtles and red buds and forsythia lent color to the sunny green backdrop of the woods.
Down at the boat launch I looked out over the expanse of the lake where a few people had set up to fish from the outlying pier platform:
The boat launch was very busy with lots of boats being hauled out of and put into the water. They were lined up all along the parking lot waiting their turn:
Looking out over the water there was this island of trees which appeared pretty in the otherwise utilitarian setting of the boat launch frenzy:
Looking at this reminded me that this lake's creation actually flooded out and destroyed many farms and a few villages. Old timers will tell the stories though I am not sure there is really any definitive history detailing the scope of the lost villages and farmlands.
There is evidently some fine backpacking in the park and this website offers some additional facts about the East Fork lake and trails:
From this site:
"Head about 30 miles due south from Caesar Creek Lake and you'll hit the shores of William H. Harsha Lake (a.k.a East Fork Lake). This 2160-acre man-made lake created for flood control in 1978 is the centerpiece of East Fork State Park-one of Ohio's largest.
Man's history in this area dates back to 3,000 years ago when the mound building Hopewell and Adena Indians occupied the area. Some of their handiwork stills remains in the southern section of the park. Fast forward to the late 1860s, when gold was mined at two locations in the park's vicinity. This minor "rush" resulted in the formation of the Batavia Gold Mining Company, whose existence didn't last a year.
Like Caesar Creek, East Fork is located in the glaciated Till Plains, so expect similar topography. Despite advancing development from the west, low rolling wooded hill, abandoned farmlands and swampy lowlands create the park's landscape and lay protected inside the park's boundaries.
East Fork Wildlife area occupies approximately 2000 acres at the eastern one-third of the lake. The areas woodlands contain beech, sugar maple, red and white oak, shagbark hickory and wild black cherry trees. The wetter lowland forests are composed of silver maple, American elm, black gum and sycamore. The meadows and remnant prairies contain big blue stem grass, purple cone flower and more."
More about the park's history and natural beauty can be found here:
Also, if you're curious: