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boat launch at Mt Gilead State Park in autumn

Boat launch at Mt Gilead State Park in autumn. Photo: Tysto, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Ohio is blessed with some truly beautiful state parks, and Mt Gilead State Park has to be up there with the best of them.

Situated just a 45 minute drive from Columbus, it might not be the biggest state park, but it is jaw-droppingly beautiful.

The perfect place to escape the frenzy of city life, the park comprises a pristine forest and a gorgeous lake. It is also surrounded by rolling hillsides that add a touch of greenery to the shades of red, yellow and blue that illuminate it. All of which gives it a ‘pinch me, I’m dreaming’ kind of quality.

Offering excellent opportunities for fishing, hiking and picnicking, the park also turns into a magical winter wonderland for those who enjoy cross-country skiing, sledding, ice skating and ice fishing.

This Ohio state park also has an excellent modern campground that offers a good selection of sites with full hookup connections for those who want to stay overnight.


During your time at the park you can engage in a wide range of recreational outdoor pursuits.

Outlined below is just a small selection of some of the main fun activities the park is renowned for.

Fishing at Mt Gilead State Park

Fishing is a very popular activity at the park with its stunning landscape providing a very relaxing environment in which to do so.

Anglers will need a valid Ohio State fishing license. (This is a simple process which you can obtain online and simply print out). However, if you have one, you will be able to catch plenty of bass and bluegill.

The park’s main office will be able to advise you of some of the best spots in which to cast a line.

Hiking at Mt Gilead State Park

If you would like to stretch your legs and explore the park’s terrain there are seven trails that enable you to do so.

Varying in degrees of difficulty and length, these trails showcase the park’s exceptional beauty. So you should really make the time to take it all in.

Overall seven trails meander their way through the park. Three of them, Maple Grove, Whetstone Trail and Meadow Trail, are considered easy trails. While two – Sam’s Creek and Piney Woods Loop – are defined as moderate.

For those who really want a challenge, Fern Ridge and Lakeside Trail are trails that are much more strenuous.

Whichever trail you tackle, be sure to put on appropriate footwear, plenty of sunscreen and mosquito spray. Also wear a hat and bring lots of water with you.

Picnicking at Mt Gilead State Park

Given its tremendous beauty, it should not come as a surprise that picnicking is a popular activity at the park.

Throughout Mt. Gilead State Park there are several picnic areas. This includes a trio of picnic shelters that are available on a first-come, first-served basis – should they not already be reserved.

These picnic areas provide a very scenic view in which to enjoy your al fresco meal. Just be sure to dispose of your trash appropriately, treat other people respectfully and also remember that the consumption of alcohol is not permitted.

Winter Activities at Mt Gilead State Park

In the winter months the snow changes the landscape significantly at Mt Gilead State Park.

However, for those who enjoy cross-country skiing or sledding it also provides excellent opportunities to partake in these pastimes.

Between them, the trails and hillsides are perfectly suited for these activities.

Should the lake freeze over to a depth of at least five inches, conditions may well be safe enough to enjoy ice skating and ice fishing as well.

Just remember to wrap up warm when you partake in these pursuits. Also, just like with regular fishing, you will need to procure a valid Ohio State fishing license for ice fishing.

Nature, Birds, and Wildlife at Mt Gilead State Park

You will want to bring your camera with you to the park for the chance to capture its spectacular range of nature, birds and wildlife.

During the spring, gorgeous wildflowers like bloodroot, trilium, wild geranium and hepatica can be seen in bloom.
Depending on what time of the year you go, you might also see the likes of Carolina wren, wood thrush, white-breasted nuthatch and several other songbirds among the trees.

White-tailed deer, raccoons and skunks are among the wildlife that can be viewed.

Pets at Mt Gilead State Park

When it comes to pets, the park follows the rules that are applied to all state parks in Ohio.

These include that pets are not allowed to enter any of the campsites, accommodations or buildings that are not designated as pet friendly.

They must also be kept on a handheld leash of no more than six feet in length, may not be left unattended for more than 30 minutes and also should be cleaned up after they make a mess.

Camping at Mt Gilead State Park

For those who want to stay overnight, Mt. Gilead State Park Campground provides a good standard of accommodation.

Overall they have 58 campsites available. Of these 22 come with full hookups from electricity, water and sewer. There are also 36 sites that are electric only.

Each of these sites come with their own picnic tables and fire rings. While other amenities include a gazebo, amphitheater, children’s playground and outdoor courts.

As the campground is not that big, a maximum of two vehicles are allowed per site.

Park Location

Mt Gilead State Park
4119 OH-95,
Mt Gilead, OH 43338
Phone: 419.946.1961




Here is a good YouTube video giving a tour of the campground and showcasing several attractions at Mt Gilead State Park: