One of Ohio's largest state parks, 4,870-acre East Fork offers a great diversity of recreational opportunities and natural history only 25 miles from Cincinnati. The park's terrain includes both rugged hills and open meadows, setting the stage for a wonderful getaway.
The Little Miami River basin in which East Fork State Park is situated has been home to many generations of man, dating back to nearly 3,000 years ago. Moundbuilders, the Adena and Hopewell Indians, occupied this area. The mound near Elklick Road is thought to have been built by the Adena. The Erie Indians also lived here much later, though by 1655 this nation was completely destroyed by the powerful Iroquois. The area was virtually uninhabited through the remainder of the 17th century.
As the new state of Ohio began to be settled in the early 19th century, the East Fork region attracted settlers from the east. Grist mills, sawmills, blacksmith shops, tanneries and stagecoach depots were among the early commercial activities.
In 1869, two gold mines operated in the vicinity. One mine was located near Elklick and consisted of a flume for washing gravel containing flakes of gold. The mine near Twin Bridges tunneled underground to reach gold deposits encased in bedrock.
Not far from the present park office, the "Old Bethel Church" on Elklick Road dates from 1867. It occupies the site of a log church built about 1807 by Reverend John Collins. Some of the hand-hewn timbers secured with wooden pegs and hand-forged nails used to construct the 1818 church are still present in the existing church.
More recently, the area has taken on a new appearance due to the creation of East Fork Reservoir in 1978. As part of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers flood control program, William H. Hargus Lake and the surrounding region comprise one of southwestern Ohio's largest recreational areas.
East Fork State Park is leased from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Louisville District at William H. Harsha Lake provides plenty of information to make your visit more enjoyable.
376 electric sites
23 full-hookup sites
Amenities include showers, flush toilets, drinking water, and boat ramp
Pets are permitted in all areas
17 electric sites in Loop A are horse friendly
The 2,160-acre William H. Harsha Lake within the park allows unlimited horsepower boating. Seven launch ramps provide easy access to the lake.
Tate Boat Ramp - south side of the park
Reisinger Boat Ramp - south side of the park/ north of the town of Bethel
Campground Boat Ramp - in the campground
North Shore Boat Ramp - on the north side of the park
Tunnel Mill Boat Ramp - in the Division of Wildlife property, east of the park
Slade Road Boat Ramp - on US Army Corps of Engineers property, west of the park
Hand Launch Boat Ramp - east of the beach on the south side of the park
A life jacket loaner board is found at the Hand Launch Boat Ramp. A boat swim area and boat camping area are near Tate Boat Ramp.
The lake offers quality fishing with excellent catches of largemouth and smallmouth bass, and crappie and fair catches of bluegill. Muskellunge were first stocked in the lake in 2008 and should now be providing good angling. For the sport fisherman, East Fork is stocked with hybrid striper. A valid Ohio fishing license is required.
Hunting is permitted in designated areas only. Hunting blinds accessible to persons with mobility impairments can be found at the park. Handicap hunting access is located on N. Campbell Road and Tunnel Mill Road. A valid Ohio hunting license is required.
Four picnic areas with tables, grills and drinking water are located around the park. Three reservable shelterhouses are available. (866) 644-6727.
A 1,200-foot swimming beach features changing booths, showers, restrooms (including men’s, women’s and family) and a vending area. Swimming is permitted in designated areas during daylight hours. Please exercise caution while swimming at the beach.
East Fork offers approximately 46 miles of backcountry trail as well as the 16-mile Backpack Trail and 32-mile Perimeter Trail. Parking and the trailhead are located at the south access parking lot near the park entrance. Access and parking on the north side of the Perimeter Trail are available at the campground visitor parking lot. Backcountry camping is free and available by permit only at four designated areas along the Backpacking and Perimeter trails. Adironack shelters are available at camping areas 1 and 2.
9.6-miles of mountain biking trails as two loops: The first loop is a mixture of flat, smooth stretches and twisting turns through wooded areas, and is suited to novice to intermediate cyclists, while the second loop winds through steep hills and switchbacks, and is suited to advanced cyclists.
A portion of the North Country Trail follows the Buckeye Trail and both pass through East Fork State Park.
Under the proper conditions, park visitors can enjoy sledding, ice skating, ice fishing, and cross-country skiing.