Salt Fork State Park and Seneca Lake Park
Guernsey County is home to two outdoor recreational playgrounds with Salt Fork State Park and Seneca Lake Park. The parks provide visitors with swimming, fishing, boating and a variety of camping options.
The largest of Ohio's state parks with 17,229 acres of recreational facilities, Salt Fork offers an abundant amount of fishing opportunities with sizable populations of largemouth bass, crappies, bluegills, walleyes and muskellunge.
The lake offers one of the largest inland beaches in Ohio at 2,500 feet and modern bathhouses have been built to provide toilets, showers, lockers and a snack bar.
Boats with unlimited horsepower are permitted on the 2,952-acre lake with combined speed and ski zones. There are 10 boat launch ramps at the lake and boaters can camp on boats in "no wake" zones within 50 yards of the shore, although swimming from boats is only permitted in designated areas.
Two marinas -- Sugartree Marina and Salt Fork Marina -- are located in the park with more than 450 rental docks, comfort stations, gasoline fuel stations, parking facilities and concession areas. A variety of boat rentals are available.
Salt Fork Lodge has 148 guest rooms with a dining room, coffee shop, snack bar, gift shop, lounge, indoor game area, sauna, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, vast lobby areas and meeting rooms that can accommodate up to 450 people.
Other amenities available include tennis, volleyball, basketball and shuffleboard courts, 400-foot swimming beach, boat launch ramp and docking facilities.
Salt Fork State Park offers 37 two-bedroom cottages with fully furnished living and dining areas, a kitchen equipped with cooking and eating utensils, bathroom with a shower and a screened porch. Seventeen chalet cottages feature gas log fireplaces and hot tubs.
Salt Fork is a popular camping destination featuring 192 sites with 50-amp electric service. Twenty sites are full-serve with sewer and water hookups and 18 are wheelchair accessible sites. Group and horseman camps are also available at the park.
The park offers 14 hiking trails, 19 miles of snowmobile trails and more than 12 miles of bridal trails. Picnickers can enjoy nine scenic locations including a wheelchair accessible site throughout the park with tables and grills available.
Two shelters near the main beach are available for reservation.
Winter recreation, weather permitting, includes sledding, cross country skiing, snowmobiling, ice skating, ice fishing and ice boating. Hunting is permitted at Salt Fork State Park in designated areas.
Two popular tourist destinations at the park are the Kennedy Stone House dating back to 1837 and Hosak's Cave.
At the southern end of the county, Seneca Lake remains a popular recreation spot with a variety of boating, swimming, camping and picnicking options.
The Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District property is part of a system of 14 lakes and dams that control the flow of water into the Muskingum River. Seneca Lake forms a conservation pool for flood control, recreation, fish and wildlife, and for the maintenance of normal downstream flows during dry periods.
The MWCD operates Seneca Lake Marina and a public boat launch ramp off Route 574 with a 399 horsepower limit for boats. Fishing opportunities are abundant at Seneca Lake with channel catfish, flathead catfish, bullheads, white bass, striped bass, largemouth bass, crappies, bluegill, yellow perch and walleye calling the lake home.
A swimming beach with concession stand is located inside the park.
Seneca Lake Park and Campgrounds includes 513 campsites with Class A full hookups and Class A with electric at two locations. Also available are vacation cabins and camper cabins, picnic shelters, hiking trails, an amphitheater and a playground including basketball courts.
Seneca Lake offers daily camping rates, as well as 30-day camping and seven month camping rates. Fireworks and other activities are featured at the park throughout the summer months.
The Seneca Lake reservoir consists of 3,550 acres of water with a 2,350-foot long dam. The maximum discharge for the dam is 11,400 cubic feet per second.
Kennedy Stone House
Built circa 1840, the Kennedy Stone House at Salt Fork State Park offers visitors a look back in time to when the Benjamin Kennedy family called the two-story stone structure home.
In 1837, Kennedy, at age 23, purchased 80 acres of land on Sugar Creek and commissioned the building of a stone house.
The stone blocks, quarried on the property, were finely crafted and tightly fitted. The ox yoke on display above the fireplace was worn on oxen that hauled the sand stone to the site by the Irish masons who built the house.
Benjamin married Margaret Orr in 1842 and the Stone House was home to several generations of Scots-Irish Kennedy descendants until 1966 when the home and surrounding area were bought by the State of Ohio to facilitate the Salt Fork State Park.
Signifying its importance, the House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.
In 1998 the Guernsey County Bicentennial Commission designated the Kennedy Stone House as its legacy program.
The Stone House has been restored to its 1840’s appearance compete with a summer kitchen and existing unique root cellar. The summer kitchen, built adjacent to the main house, lessened the possibility of fire and also kept the main house cooler in the summer.
The kitchen was used year round for the preparation of food, as well as butchering and canning.
The Cornish Docent Cabin was built in 2006 to house the volunteers who care for the Stone House and open it for visitors. Costumed docents give tours of the house and information of the 1800's and 1900's.
Stone House Museum hours are 1 to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, May through October.
Call the Salt Fork Park Office, 740-439-3521, or email SaltForkStoneHouseMuseum@gmail.com for additional information.
The Wilds is a safari park and conservation center combining cutting-edge conservation science and education programs with hands-on experiences and one-of-a-kind adventures that include tours, zip lines, horseback riding, fishing and more.
The park is home to rare and endangered species from around the globe that live in natural, open-range habitats.
Wikipedia reports The Wilds near Cumberland encompasses 9,154 acres of reclaimed coal mine land and received its first animals, Przewalski's horses, in 1992. The park officially opened for public tours in 1994.
Over the next few years, The Wilds continued to add animals, improve and expand conservation efforts and increase public awareness. In 2001, the Wilds began a partnership with the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.
The Mid-Size Carnivore Center opened in 2007 and the Wilds was happy to welcome cheetahs, dholes, and African painted dogs.
The Wilds is also designated an Audubon Important Bird Area with a birding station that includes a covered lookout, as well as a butterfly habitat, more than 15 miles of mountain bike and hiking trails and numerous lakes.
Open May to October, The Wilds is the largest wildlife conservation center in North America including 2,000 acres of pastures and the 27-acre Carnivore Conservation Center.
Daily tours available include the Open-Air Safari and Wildside Tour.
Lodging includes the Grand Yurt, Premium Yurts and Woodland Yurts with queen or twin size beds; Straker Lake cabins; and The Lodge at The Wilds.
Led by two professionally trained guides, zipline safari tours consists of up to 10 ziplines and a rappel built on a series of observation platforms overlooking various exotic animal species that are home to the Wilds.
Zipline tours include the Safari Tour, Overlook Tour and the Sunset Tour.
Specialty and group tours are also available at The Wilds, as well as Education Camps.
Memberships are available.
Call 740-638-5030 or visit thewilds.columbuszoo.org for more information about The Wilds.