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Go jump in a lake!

June 4, 2010

SUMMER IS on the horizon and residents and visitors to the Ohio Valley are fortunate to have several lakes and parks to visit for outdoor fun.

Barkcamp State Park, located at 65330 Barkcamp Road, Belmont, allows visitors to enjoy mature woodlands, open meadows, a scenic lake and abundant wildlife in a secluded setting.

The over 1,000 acre park offers four miles of hiking trails, 24 miles of bridle trails, three picnic shelters as well as picnic areas throughout the park, 700-feet of beach for swimming, fishing, boating and hunting.

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LOCAL LAKES provide a fun alternative to the city pools. Most local lake parks include swimming, camping, fishing and boating among summertime activities.

The sandstone hills of the Barkcamp region are part of the Appalachian highlands which envelop the southeastern part of Ohio. In the sandstone bedrock can be found layers of coal which were formed by decaying swamp vegetation millions of years ago during the Pennsylvanian geologic period.

Barkcamp State Park lies in the heart of the coal-mining region of Ohio.The hills and valleys of the area are clothed with a second-growth forest. Today, southeastern Ohio is one of the most extensively forested in Ohio, and only a few areas remain which suggest the magnificence of these original forests.

The woodlands of Barkcamp support a variety of plant and animal life. The observant visitor may find a wealth of woodland wildflowers including wild geranium, hepatica, bloodroot and spring beauties. The woodlands explode with flowering dogwood and redbud blossoms in spring.

Songbirds, squirrels, skunk, opossum, raccoon, white-tailed deer and the wild turkey take up residence in the park's varying habitats.

Land acquisition began for the park in 1955, and a dam was completed in 1963 resulting in the 117-acre Belmont Lake. The park derives its unusual name from Barkcamp Creek, the former site of a logging camp where logs were stripped of their bark in preparation for delivery to the mill.

For more information, call 740-484-4064 or 866-644-6727.

Several area lakes - Seneca Lake, Atwood, Charles Mill, Pleasant Hill and Tappan - are all part of the Muskingum River Watershed, which covers more than 8,000 square miles and drains into the Muskingum River. It is the largest wholly contained watershed in the state of Ohio, covering about 20 percent of the state.

The five MWCD lake parks come alive during the summer months between Memorial Day Weekend and Labor Day Weekend with regular and special activities and events. Admission is only $5 per car during this time period and admission includes access to all park amenities, including the swimming beach, play equipment, hiking and biking trails, ball courts and more. Musical acts, fireworks, games and more are featured throughout the summer months. There are also fishing tournaments at many of the lakes nearly every weekend of the season.

The campgrounds at all five lake parks are open the year round, and all of the lake parks have varying types of cabins available for rentals. The MWCD lake parks also offer convenient access to marinas and boat launch ramps, making any visit to an MWCD lake a memorable occasion.

Atwood Lake Park is located in Tuscarawas and Carroll Counties and is one of the state's top lakes for sailing and pleasure boating. Atwood Park features a wide, sandy beach, vending area, changing room with showers, playground, picnic area and picnic shelters.

Located near Mansfield, Charles Mill is a quiet place to relax and enjoy nature. The park entrance is located near the junction of State Routes 430 and 603. Charles Mill Marina is open year-round and offers docking, boat rentals, fuel, supplies, boat sales and service.

Located near Perrysville, Pleasant Hill Lake offers camping, water skiing, hiking and swimming and much more. A developing horse trail and designated camping area to accommodate horse owners also is available for visitors.

An easy drive from Cambridge and Marietta, Seneca is the largest of the MWCD lakes and the third largest inland lake in Ohio. It offers camping, picnic areas, hiking trails, boating and swimming beach with concession as well as fishing. There is also an amphitheater and playground area.

Seneca Lake Marina is a full-service marina with boat sales and rentals, fuel, supplies and docking. Restaurant is open all year.

Located between Cadiz and Uhrichsville, Tappan Lake is great for camping, swimming, boating, fishing and hiking. There is a swimming beach, concession stand , activity center, nature center, camp store and playground. A trail connects the park with the Tappan Wetlands, which has been designated as a watchable wildlife area.

Tappan Lake Marina offers boat sales and service, rentals, docking, fishing licenses, supplies, gas sales, boat and ski accessories, vacation cabin rentals. The marina restaurant overlooks the lake and offers a full menu.

Piedmont Lake, located in Belmont and Harrison counties in the eastern part of the state, is on State Route 22 midway between Cambridge and Cadiz and approximately 10 miles north of Interstate 70 off State Route 800.

The dam was constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for flood control. The lake is in the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District's chain of lakes and all boating, swimming, camping, and picnicking is under MWCD control. The Division of Wildlife annually leases public fishing and hunting rights on MWCD lakes and lands.

The lake is approximately 10 miles long. Piedmont Lake is considered by many to be the most scenic of all the MWCD lakes. It is set in rough, hilly, unglaciated terrain, most of which is heavily wooded. Few buildings are visible throughout its entire length.

Boat launching facilities, food, gasoline, and boats and motors are available for rent at Piedmont Marina at the northern end of the lake off State Route 800. Camping (requiring a special MWCD permit available at the marina), is also nearby. Outboard motors may not exceed 10 horsepower.

Graham can be reached at



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