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trees reflecting off the calm water at Lake Hope State Park

Exceptional scenery, a diverse range of wildlife, and a beautiful lake are just some of the reasons to visit Lake Hope State Park.

Situated within the Zaleski State Forest, the entire site of the park used to be a mining village. However after flooding destroyed much of it, the area was turned into a state park in 1937.

There are still some signs left of this village in the form of ruins which are dotted along a 3000-acre landscape that includes massive forests and narrow ridges and gorges.

Open throughout the year, this Ohio state park provides many opportunities for recreational pursuits like fishing, hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding and nature photography. During the winter cross country skiing and sledding are popular past times too.

Located just over an hour from Columbus and around 30 minutes from Athens, the park is a popular day trip destination from both cities.

However, for those who want to really take the opportunity to immerse themselves in its wonder, the park offers electric and non-electric camping options, as well as cabins, a lodge and equestrian sites in its campground.

park bench overlooking the water at Lake Hope State Park


Visitors to the park can engage in a myriad of outdoor recreational pursuits during their time at Lake Hope State Park.

Showcased below is just a handful of the many activities you can engage in whilst you are there.

Swimming, Fishing, and Boating at Lake Hope State Park

The sparkling waters of Lake Hope make a terrific playground for swimming, fishing and boating.

In terms of boating only electric motors are permitted, while kayaks, canoes and SUP are available for hire if you did not bring them to the park with you. To help you get into the water the park provides a convenient launch ramp.

For those who would prefer to swim you can do this at an area that has been constructed near the dam. This features restrooms, a beach house and a concession stand.

Those into angling will need a valid Ohio State fishing license in order to do so. However, once they have got one they can expect to catch several species including largemouth bass, catfish, crappie and bluegill.

person fishing at Lake Hope State Park

Hiking and Biking at Lake Hope State Park

If you are in mind to explore the park there are several trails within it that are set up for hiking, biking, horse riding and backpacking.

Overall there are seven different hiking trails within the park. Stretching for a total of about 11 miles they have a moderate degree of difficulty.

Should you prefer to conduct your exploration on a mountain bike, there are eight different moderate and difficult trails you can tackle.

Between them, these hiking trails and biking tracks take you to every corner of the park to showcase its stunning flora and fauna. This includes landscapes that feature dense forest, golden sandy beaches and a tranquil lake.

If you really want to really venture into the heart of the park, you can tackle a 21-mile long backpacking trail or a 31-mile long bridle trail within the state forest region.

Winter Activities at Lake Hope State Park

During the winter, when the snow hits, the park provides people with exceptional opportunities to enjoy recreational activities like cross-country skiing, sledding, ice skating and ice fishing.

If you didn’t bring any of this equipment with you, they can be bought or rented from the park.

Before attempting ice skating and ice fishing it is worth checking the thickness of the ice. As a rule, you should not step foot on the ice if it is less than five inches thick. Even then this is not a guarantee that you will be safe.

Like with regular fishing, you will need a license should you want to engage in ice fishing.

the remains of Hope Furnace at Lake Hope State Park

Wildlife Viewing and Birding

The park is a pristine natural habitat for various species of wildlife including deer, wild turkeys and beavers.

Birding enthusiasts will also enjoy the chance to spot more than 50 different breeds of documented birds. Many of these are permanent residents that nestle within the forested areas.

You’ll be able to get a full birding list from the park’s main office.

Pets at Lake Hope State Park

Dogs are welcome to join you on the hiking trails and at the camping grounds.

However, they are not permitted in any building within the park or the specifically set out swimming area. You can bring them to the water just outside this designated section though.

At all times whilst they are at the park your dog will need to be kept on a leash. You will also have to clean them up after they make a mess.

Camping at Lake Hope State Park

If you are in need of a place to stay whilst at the park, the campground provides some very good options.

This includes 46 electric sites that offer both 30-amp and 50-amp electric sites. In addition there are also 141 non-electric sites too. All of these campsites are well looked after and nicely paved. For guest convenience, they come with their own fire rings, barbecue grills and picnic tables.

Amenities at this campground include modern restrooms, hot showers, a laundry facility and a dump station.

In addition to these camping sites, the park also has 66 cabins available to hire. These provide you with lots of home comforts including air conditioning and heating, fully-equipped kitchens, bedrooms and a bathroom.

For larger groups there is also lodge accommodation available, while those who come to the park with their horse can stay in any of the 16 sites at its equestrian campground.

Park Location

Lake Hope State Park
27331 OH-278
McArthur, OH 45651
Phone: 580.569.2032

Park Website



Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Lake Hope State Park: