Harrison Lake State Park
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Ohio Birding Day Hike
Harrison Lake State Park Trails
Several hiking trails, totaling about 4.5 miles, enable visitors to explore the scenic lakeshore and woodlands surrounding Harrison Lake. The trails are not named, but are marked with green, yellow, and blue blazes.
A circuit hike of the lake using the park trails is 3.5 miles.
A description with a map of a 4.5-mile hike using the park trails is available on the AllTrails website.
About Harrison Lake State Park
Originally, Lake Erie was much larger than it is today–stretching from western New York to Fort Wayne, Indiana. The Harrison Lake region was at that time under the waters of Lake Erie. As Lake Erie receded to its present size, the area formerly under water reverted to swamplands. This swamp (120 miles long and 30 to 40 miles wide) became known as the Great Black Swamp due to the color of the soil and dark shade beneath the giant trees.
For many years, the swamp was a tremendous barrier to western settlement. Most settlers avoided the area, traveling around the swamp via Lake Erie to reach southern Michigan. The Ottawa Indians settled only near the well-drained lands beside the Maumee River and its tributaries. The swamp was the last area to be settled in Ohio. It served as a reservation for Indians until they were forced out in 1842. It was not until the development of soil drainage techniques in the 1850s that large numbers of settlers moved here.
Even today, northwestern Ohio remains one of the most sparsely populated regions of the state, although it is one of Ohio’s richest agricultural regions.
In 1836, the United States Congress and the Ohio Legislature finally settled a 10-year argument with the state of Michigan as to the location of the Ohio-Michigan border. For years, both states claimed ownership of a strip of land 11 miles wide that extended from the mouth of the Maumee River near Toledo to the Ohio border with Indiana. Today’s Ohio-Michigan boundary is the one agreed upon in 1836. Had Congress favored Michigan’s claim in that year, Harrison Lake State Park may have become a Michigan State Park!
In 1941, a dam over Mill Creek was completed and Harrison Lake was created. The lake and surrounding area were maintained primarily for hunting and fishing purposes until 1950 when Harrison Lake was established as a state park and development for additional recreational usage began.
The area comprising Harrison Lake State Park was at one time part of a vast wetland. This mysterious area contained towering trees, soggy black soil and was a haven for the swamp rattlesnake (or massasauga, as it is also known). Very little remains of that once great swamp, but the park still harbors unique natural features associated with wetlands.
Great blue herons and common egrets can be sighted at the lake’s shallow western end. Numerous songbirds inhabit the park’s meadows and woodlands such as the vesper sparrow, common yellowthroat, and brown thrasher. Several species of reptiles and amphibians find the park’s habitat suitable. Box turtles, painted turtles, garter snakes, green frogs and American toads are found here. Small mammals such as red fox, raccoon, skunk and the uncommon thirteen-lined ground squirrel are frequently seen.
From Harrison Lake State Park website
About Harrison Lake
Harrison Lake is located five miles southwest of Fayette, Ohio off US-20 between US-127 and OH-66 on County Road M.
The lake was constructed in 1939 by building an earthen levee and concrete spillway across Mill Creek. The original purpose of the lake was outdoor recreation, mainly fishing and hunting. In 1950, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources developed a state park around Harrison Lake. The lake is 95 acres and has 3.2 miles of shoreline. Maximum depth is 15-feet near the dam. The lake tends to be a little turbid, but the turbidity does not adversely affect fish in the lake. There is an abundance of fish structure in the lake including stumps, downed trees, Christmas trees sunk by the Division of Wildlife, and rip-rap along the dam.
Restrooms at locations identified on Harrison Lake State Park map.