Van Buren State Park - Ohio

US National Parks and Monuments Travel Guide:

Park Overview

Van Buren State Park lies in the rich agricultural plains of northwest Ohio • The plains, referred to as till plains, receive their name from the glacial debris, or till, which covers preglacial hills and valleys • The till plains are the result of the deposition and smoothing action of the glaciers. Most hills in these areas are mounds of boulders and soil left by the retreating Wisconsinan glacier • Beneath the almost continuous cover of glacial deposits lies sedimentary bedrock which, in this region, is mostly limestone with a little shale • Much of this limestone is the magnesium-bearing form called dolomite.

The original vegetation of the area, before settlement, was mostly woodland • Today, much of the vegetation consists of farm crops such as corn, soybeans and wheat • Locally, a small but valuable remnant of the original woodland remains • Beech and sugar maple occupy a large portion of the wooded area in Van Buren State Park. Mammals found in the area include red fox, red squirrel, white-tailed deer, raccoon, skunk and opossum • Other animals found are the eastern garter snake, spring peeper, eastern bluebird, eastern meadowlark, cowbird, woodcock and short-eared owl • Wildflowers abound in the fields and woodlands of the area • Dutchman's breeches, spring beauty, thimbleweed, daisy fleabane and chicory are commonly found around the park.

History of the Area

The Van Buren State Park region was originally inhabited by the Shawnee Indians • Banished from their homeland in south-central Ohio, this was the last stronghold of the tribe before they eventually departed for lands west of the Mississippi River • Indian artifacts and relics can still be found on what used to be Indian Island, located in the northwest section of the lake.

Van Buren is located just north of the town of Findlay which was founded in 1821 • The development of the town was quite slow until the discovery of natural gas in the 1880s • A German physician named Charles Osterlen became convinced that an enormous reservoir of natural gas lay beneath the town of Findlay • He told of his belief and was scoffed at and regarded as a vain dreamer • But his patience and perseverance prevailed as he succeeded in organizing a stock company to drill for gas • The well was successful and spawned the growth of a great industry in Findlay • At one time, Findlay claimed the largest gas well in the world, with an output of 20 million cubic feet daily.

The land comprising Van Buren State Park was originally set aside as a wildlife preserve • In 1939, a dam was constructed over Rocky Ford Creek to provide additional fish and wildlife resources • In 1950, the area was turned over to the newly created Division of Parks and Recreation • It has been maintained as a state park ever since • The park was named for Martin Van Buren--eighth President of the United States.


Family camp area, at the east end of the park, is a peaceful, quiet loop: 16 sites with 50-amp electric hook-up -- 13 non-electric sites -- Non-Electric sites 41, 43, 49, as well as electric sites 51, 53, 55, & 57 are perfect for tent camping -- Most sites are partially shaded -- Self-registration station is located at the campground entrance -- Facilities include new vault latrines, picnic tables, fire rings, dump station (near the park office) and drinking water -- Gravel pads & drives -- Pets are permitted on any site -- Sports equipment and games can be borrowed by registered campers from the camp host -- Playground, tetherball, volleyball, & basketball hoop -- Easy access to multipurpose trails leading to hiking & biking trails -- Amphitheater

Equestrian camp area is the only one of it's kind in NW Ohio: 3 sites with 50-amp electric -- 27 non-electric sites -- Most sites are partially shaded -- Gravel pads & drives -- Picket lines, tie rails and manure bins are available -- Each site includes a picnic table and fire ring -- Drinking water is available nearby -- Vault latrines -- Shelter house and campfire circle -- Easy access to over 10 miles of multi-purpose trails

Primitive, walk-in, youth-group camping area is located on the southeast side of the lake: Accommodates up to 200 people -- Large open center area surrounded by woods is perfect for gatherings -- Vault latrines -- Available by reservation only through the park office

Getaway Rentals

NEW:2 Camper Cabins located in the campground -- Each cabin sleeps up to 4 adults and is handicap accessible -- Amenities include small refrigerator, microwave, and table with chairs -- Linens, dishes and cooking utensils are not provided -- Daily housekeeping service is not available


Catches of largemouth bass, channel catfish, crappie, bullhead, bluegill and carp await the skilled angler -- Valid Ohio fishing license is required


Excellent boating opportunities for rowboats, canoes and boats with electric motors only on the 45-acre lake -- Launch area is located at the north parking area on Township Road 229


NO swimming facilities are available at the park


10 Picnic areas are situated in scenic locations throughout the park -- 3 shelterhouses are available for reservation online or by calling• The rental fee is $40/day for each shelter

West Side Shelter -- Open 30' x 60' shelter • Electric is NOT available • Group grill and 10 picnic tables • Close to restrooms, playground, volleyball court, and the lake • Unlimited parking

Nature Center Shelter -- Open 30' x 60' shelter • Electric is available • Group grill and 10 picnic tables • Located next to the Nature Center and close to playground and the lake • Portable latrine is available • Parking is limited

South Side Shelter -- Open 30' x 60' shelter with 20 amp electric • Group grill and 10 picnic tables • Parking for up to 50 cars is available • Close to restrooms, the lake, and volleyball court


3 miles of mostly single-track mountain bike trails meander through the south shore woods providing both novice and intermediate riders with scenic views of Van Buren Lake and woodlands while crossing the boardwalks over ravinces and offering some challenging features • Trailhead begins at the South Shore Picnic Area parking lot • Follow the blue blazes

5 hiking trails that also allow mountain bikes: Scarlet Haw Trail • 1.5 Miles -- Pine Glenn Loop Trail • 1/2 Mile -- Lake Shore Trail • 3 Miles -- Interpretive Trail • 2 Miles -- Bike Trail • 3 Miles

4 bridle trails that also allow hiking and mountain bikes: Red Trail • 2.5 Miles -- Pink Trail • 4 Miles -- White Trail • 2 Miles -- Yellow Trail • 3 Miles

Disc Golf

18-hole Disc Golf course is located throughout the day use and north shore areas of Van Buren Lake -- The course was designed by Dale Wirt of Findlay, and traverses open picnic areas, wooded pines, rolling terrain along the lake shore and shaded areas throughout the park -- Course begins and ends at the west end picnic area -- All tees are grass -- Bring your own discs, rental equipment is not available -- No fee is charged to play -- The renovations were sponsored by several local businesses and the Friends of Van Buren State Park

Winter Recreation (conditions permitting)

Cross-country skiing -- Ice skating -- Ice fishing

More To Do

Volleyball courts and horseshoe pits available at some picnic areas -- Nature center is located in the day use area along the north shore of the Van Buren lake and offers interpretive displays, a beautiful prairie garden, live animals, and a bird viewing window

Nature programs are offered during the summer months -- Butterfly gazebo -- Playground equipment

Area Attractions

Springville Marsh, a state nature preserve, is located east of Van Buren in Seneca County on Township Road 24 • The preserve is one of the largest interior wetlands in the till plains of western Ohio.

The Old Mill Stream Parkway off State Route 37 stretches 23 miles from Riverbend Recreation Area to the restored Blanchard River Village in Gilboa • Canoe access, heritage trail, boat livery and bikeways are offered along this scenic route.

Slippery Elm Bike Trail is a 13-mile asphalt surfaced multi-use trail located 5 miles north of Van Buren State Park • The trail runs from North Baltimore to Bowling Green and is a popular trail for cyclists, in-line skaters and joggers bikeway.

Indian Trail Caverns tours provide an enlightening view of the archeology and geology of the region • Access to the caverns is provided by gentle stairways which have been designed to accommodate both young and old • The Sheriden cave site, which is part of Indian Trail Caverns, is being researched by top specialists from around the world and has been filmed as part of a special on the Discovery Channel about the extinction of certain mammals at the time of the last ice age • Indian Trail Caverns is located near Vanlue about 25 minutes southeast of Van Buren State Park.

Collier State Nature Preserve contains large Beech and Oak trees and spectacular spring wildflowers including sharp-lobed hepatica, Dutchman's breeches, squirrel-corn, three trillium species, twinleaf, white and yellow trout-lily and marsh marigold • This natural area is located on the Sandusky State Scenic River • The trail follows the ridge top and then drops dramatically over the hillside to the floodplain of the Sandusky River • This preserve is located approximately 35 miles southeast of Van Buren State Park near McCutchinville.

Lawrence Woods State Nature Preserve is the largest known mature forest in this region and is home to a number of rare plant and animal species • Exceptionally large trees such as oaks, hickories, maples and beech are found in the preserve including excellent spring wildflowers • The preserve is located about 40 miles south of Van Buren State Park in Hardin, County approximately 4 miles south of Kenton


LOCATION: 12259 Township Road 218, Van Buren, OH

CONTACT: Mary Jane Thurston State Park, 1466 State Route 65, McClure, OH 43534-9711

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