(Last Updated On: January 23, 2023)
Overview of William H. Harsha Lake at East Fork State Park

Overview of William H. Harsha Lake at East Fork State Park. Photo: Nyttend, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Rolling hills, oak-hickory woodlands, wildflower prairies, and swampy forests of sycamore and elm surround East Fork State Park 30 miles east of Cincinnati. This 4,870 acre public recreation area lies along Harsha Lake in Clermont County not far from the Kentucky border.

This scenic Ohio state park features a large campground, picnic areas, and access to an extensive trail system for hikers, mountain bike riders, and horseback riders.

Activities

You’ll enjoy spending quality time with friends and family inside this large Ohio state park. Inside this spacious area you may camp, paddle, swim, fish, picnic, bird watch, hike, bike, horseback ride, and so much more.

Here are some of the activities that you can do during your visit to East Fork State Park:

Boating at East Fork State Park

Bring your boat and enjoy a fun day out on the 2,160 acre lake inside East Fork State Park. The William H. Harsha Lake, also known as East Fork Lake, has no horsepower limit restrictions so feel free to bring those jet skis too. Access to the lake is provided along 7 boat launch ramps that are scattered throughout the park, including 2 in the campground area.

Life jackets are available (to borrow) at the Hand Launch Ramp. And a separate boat swimming and boat camping area may be accessed near the Tate Boat Ramp.

Swimming at East Fork State Park

Take a refreshing dip in the lake and then relax on the beach inside East Fork State Park. Restrooms, showers, and changing rooms are conveniently located near the 1,200 foot beach area. Swimming is only allowed during daylight hours.

Hiking at East Fork State Park

Explore the many miles of trails that wind throughout wildflower prairies, abandoned roadways, and the thick oak-hickory forest inside East Fork State Park. Hikers may also use the mountain bike and equestrian trails but should exercise caution when doing so and always yield to horses.

Here are some of the trails at East Fork State Park:

  • Storybook Trail – An easy 0.5 mile trail that presents a children’s story broken into sections along its path. The book changes throughout the year. A Small Free Library is located near the beginning of the trail and guests may take a book or leave a book.
  • The Tailwater Trail – A moderate 2 mile trail located below the dam climbs upwards as it winds through the thick woodlands along an abandoned roadway.
  • The Backpack Trail – A moderate yet challenging 16 mile trail that winds through the oak-hickory forest and along old fields. This trail provides access to 2 primitive camping areas along its route.

Mountain Biking at East Fork State Park

East Fork State Park features 12 miles of flat smooth mountain bike trails that twist, turn, and wind throughout the woods and along the ridge that overlooks the lake. The trails also feature switchbacks and steep inclines for advanced riders. Additional multi-use trails are also available for riders to share with hikers.

Horseback Riding at East Fork State Park

Equestrians will enjoy riding along the miles of trails that wind throughout the woodlands, fields, and wildflower meadows. These extensive trails offer riders challenging ravine crossings and spectacular views along the hilltops overlooking the lake.

Parking and spacious equestrian campsites are available near the main campground and trails.

Fishing at East Fork State Park

Fish for largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie, striper, and smallmouth bass during your visit to East Fork State Park.

Pick up an Ohio fishing license online or at the park office. The park office is open Monday through Friday between 8 am and 4 pm.

Archery at East Fork State Park

East Fork State Park offers 2 archery ranges for guests who bring their own equipment. One range consists of 6 lanes of 20-, 30-, 40-, and 50- yard static targets. The second range walks through a thickly wooded area and features elevated 3D targets in distances of 26 to 60 yards. Both ranges are located on the south side of the park.

Hunting at East Fork State Park

East Fork State Park allows hunting in season and in designated areas only. For more information contact the park’s main office at 513-734-2730. And don’t forget to pick up an Ohio hunting license if you plan on hunting inside the park.

Birding at East Fork State Park

East Fork State Park provides ideal conditions for bird watchers of all ages. The park’s beach area attracts many species of shorebirds and waterfowl and songbirds may be seen and heard throughout the woods and along the extensive trail system.

Bring your binoculars and bird list for a chance to discover many gulls, hawks, swallows, grebes, terns, goldfinches, cowbirds, woodpeckers, and Blue Birds, Carolina chickadees, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Eastern Meadowlarks, Canadian Geese, Northern Cardinals, Indigo Buntings, Barn Swallows, and Song Sparrows.

Nature and Wildlife at East Fork State Park

Picturesque East Fork State Park is surrounded by oak-hickory-maple-beech woodlands, wildflower prairies, rocky cascading hills, marshy grasslands and swampy forests of sycamore, elm, and black gum trees. White-tailed deer, rabbits, squirrels, foxes, raccoons, waterfowl, shorebirds, songbirds, snakes, lizards, woodchucks, and many more wildlife species may be seen along the trails, streams, and the expansive lake.

Pets at East Fork State Park

Pets are allowed within designated areas at East Fork State Park. Please supervise your pets and keep them on a hand held leash that is no longer than 6 feet.

Camping at East Fork State Park

East Fork State Park features a large family campground nestled within the shady woods along the north side of the lake. The campground consists of 23 full-hookup sites and 376 electric campsites near showers, flush toilets, and drinking water. Seventeen of the electric campsites are open for guests traveling with their horses.

All campsites are pet friendly and near a beach area, boat ramp, playground, mini golf, basketball court, canoe, kayak, and bike rentals, and a Nature Center.

Backcountry camping is also available within the park and free. Guests are required to get a permit before camping in one of these 5 designated areas that are located along the Backpacking and Perimeter Trails.

Park Location

East Fork State Park
3294 Elklick Rd
Bethel, OH 45106
Phone: 513.734.4323

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