West Branch State Park - Ohio

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Park Overview

West Branch State Park in Portage County is situated on the glaciated plateau of northeastern Ohio • Although the land was uplifted as part of the Appalachian Mountain building process, the glaciers were able to override the gentle hills of the plateau • Huge ice blocks broke free from the glaciers and kettle lakes formed as the blocks melted • Eventually, these lakes filled with sediment leaving boggy wetlands with unique assemblages of plants • The West Branch area contains numerous bogs filled with buttonbush, alder, skunk cabbage and swamp white oak.

Another natural feature of the park is the stand of beech-maple forest. In pioneer times, the beech-maple belt in Ohio was very extensive and stretched across the plateau from Mansfield to Pennsylvania • These woodlands harbor a variety of plant and animal life • Woodland wildflowers such as Dutchman's breeches, bloodroot and trillium are found here • Red fox, skunk, opossum and raccoon find the park's habitat suitable • Songbirds occupy the leafy canopy of the woodlands while waterfowl and shorebirds dabble in the reservoir.

History of the Area

West Branch State Park is located on the west branch of the Mahoning River in Portage County • The river was named for the Delaware Indian word mahonink meaning "at the salt lick" • In early days, a salt works was located southeast of present-day Warren along the river • The salt, which attracted a variety of wildlife, was harvested by Indians and early settlers.

At the west end of the park is a crossroads known as Campbellsport, named for Captain John Campbell who mustered militia for the War of 1812 at the site and then marched them on Cleveland • Captain Campbell originally came to the area in 1805 as a surveyor and land agent for proprietor Samuel Hinckley • Captain Campbell also served as Portage County sheriff from 1810 to 1813 • He constructed what is said to be the oldest brick land-office building in Ohio (circa 1810) • Prior to the flooding of the reservoir, this building was moved to a site at the Portage County Historical Society where it has been preserved and restored.

In 1965, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completed construction of the Michael J. Kirwan Reservoir • The reservoir was developed for flood control, water supply, recreation and fish and wildlife management • West Branch State Park was formally opened in 1966.

Camping

29 full service sites -- 155 sites with 50-amp electric hook-up -- 14 non-electric sites -- Pets are permitted -- Heated showers, flush toilets, laundry facilities and a trailer dump station -- Some lakeside sites offer boating access -- Camp office loans games and sporting equipment to registered campers -- A group camp is available for organizations of up to 50 people

Equestrian Camp

9 non-electric sites with gravel pads -- "Site General" only reservations are available -- Each site has a picket line, picnic table & fire ring -- Vault latrines, gray water station, manure pit are available -- Water is available, however due to high iron content, it is recommended that water is carried in -- Potable water is available near the dump station in the main campground

Entrance gate at Copeland Road & Esworthy Road may be locked • If it is locked upon arrival call the park office -- 20 miles of bridle trails traverse woodlands and meadows, riders must provide their own horses

Group Camp

700-foot sand beach -- Beach house has restrooms with changing booths, snack vending area and outside showers

Swimming

700-foot sand beach -- Beach house has restrooms with changing booths, snack vending area and outside showers -- Swimming is permitted during daylight hours only -- Swim at your own risk & be sure to keep an eye on the kids -- Pets are NOT permitted on swimming beaches -- Check for water quality advisories

Fishing

Year-round fishing at West Branch offers large and smallmouth bass, walleye, crappie, bluegill, catfish and trophy-class muskellunge -- Fishing access is available at 3 paved and 2 gravel launch areas as well as numerous shoreline access points -- Wheelchair-accessible fishing pier is located by the marina -- Valid Ohio fishing license is required

Boating

The 2,650 acre lake is designated for unlimited horsepower -- Boat rentals, gasoline and supplies are available at the marina -- 6 launch ramps provide access to the lake -- Dock rentals are on a seasonal basis -- Dock 9 is wheelchair accessible -- No-wake zone extends 300 feet from all shorelines -- Entire area west of Rock Spring Road causeway is also a no-wake zone -- Boat swimming area is located in Silver Creek Bay, southwest of the beach

Picnicking

5 picnic areas are situated in scenic locations around the lake -- 6 picnic shelters are available -- 4 picnic shelters can be reserved in advance online or by calling

Trails

More than 14 miles of hiking trails -- Portion of the state's Buckeye Trail passes through the park and is linked to the campground by a 2-mile spur trail -- 12 miles of mountain biking trails -- Mountain biking is permitted on snowmobile trails and designated track trail -- After leaving the parking area and riding up to cable line road there are 6 loops (some connected, some not) that provide approximately 12 miles of single and double-track -- Read more about biking on the Cleveland Area Mountain Bike Association web site -- 20 miles of bridle trails traverse woodlands and meadows, riders must provide their own horses

Winter Recreation (conditions permitting)

Extensive snowmobile trails start at the west boat ramp -- Cross country skiing -- Ice Fishing -- Ice Boating

More To Do

Playgrounds -- Volley ball court

Area Attractions

Tinker's Creek State Park and adjacent state nature preserve, located northwest of Streetsboro, offer additional recreational opportunities. Visitors may enjoy a variety of day-use activities including swimming, picnicking, fishing and hiking • During the spring and fall migration periods, the marsh provides food and shelter for thousands of waterfowl.

Nelson-Kennedy Ledges State Park, northeast of Ravenna, also offers picnicking and hiking • Winding foot trails meander around, under and between the spectacular rock formations that have become the trademarks of this state park.

Other state parks in the area include Lake Milton, Quail Hollow, Punderson and Mosquito Lake..

Geauga Lake's Wildwater Kingdom (Aurora) and Blossom Music Center (Cuyahoga Falls) appeal to visitors as well.

Contact

Location: 5708 Esworthy Road, Ravenna, Ohio 44266-9659

Park Office & Mailing Address: Lake Milton, 16801 Mahoning Avenue, Lake Milton, Ohio 44429-9998

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