You probably would not expect to see such a naturally wild and wooded area in southeastern Ohio so close to the city. However, Burr Oak State Park in the small town of Burr Oaks is a pristine and mostly untouched natural area that makes you feel like you are out in the middle of nowhere, even though you are within three hours drive of Columbus, Dayton, and Cincinnati. With close to 2,600 acres, the park has amazing views of the surrounding valleys, hills, prairies, and canyons while enjoying the peacefulness of the Wayne National Forest.
The 664-acre Burr Oak Lake makes a perfect place to enjoy boating with several boat ramps available. There is also a 500-square foot sandy beach where you can build sandcastles, enjoy some frisbee, or just soak up the sun. Oh, and you can also get in the water and swim with the fishes. If you would rather catch the fish than swim with them, grab your gear and try your luck at catching some of the catfish, bluegill, and bass in Burr Oak Lake.
Winter is fun here too when you can enjoy horseback riding, snowshoeing, and even some sledding. Some people even enjoy shovel racing by seeing who can get to the bottom of the hill fastest while riding on a shovel. However, you can still use a sled if you want to. And with 123 campsites available, you don’t have to do it all in one day. Stay for a few days so you can do it all.
Burr Oak State Park is simple to reach near Glouster, Ohio off of OH-78. You can reach the park from nearby I-79, I-64, or I-70. In fact, it is just 72 miles southeast of Columbus, so it will not be hard to find. The roads here are mostly flat and straight, although some may be a bit narrow, and there are a few curves you may have to slow down for as you get closer to the park.
Inside the park, most of the roads are paved and easily maneuvered in your RV or trailer. However, some of the campground sections can be difficult for rigs larger than 30 feet long. Make sure you check the RV length limits when reserving your site. Most visitors park their rig at the campground and walk or bike wherever they want to go inside the park. Or you can bring along another vehicle to drive if you plan on making any trips further out.
For example, Strouds Run State Park is just 21 miles to the south and has boating, fishing, swimming, and many other activities to enjoy. Two wildlife areas are nearby as well; Wolf Creek is six miles east and Trimble is six miles west. If you like caves, check out Tinkers Cave, which is 19 miles to the west. And 26 miles to the south you can find an Indian Mound Historical Landmark. Bring a camera because this trip is going to be epic.
Burr Oak State Park offers 123 pet-friendly campsites for tents and RVs year-round. Seventeen of these sites provide electric hookups, while the remaining 106 are primitive. The pad length limits for RVs and trailers range from 25 to 60 feet so you will need to check that carefully when reserving your campsite. You can reserve your site online or by phone up to a year in advance. If you get one of the sites without electricity, you will be able to cook outdoors on the provided campfire grill or use your generator as long as it is not during quiet time.
Pets are welcome as long as they are supervised and restrained at all times. You can find showers and modern restrooms with flush toilets nearby as well as water spigots in several areas of the campground. There is also an RV dump site at the end of the camp road where you can dump your black tank if needed. For fun and recreation, you will be within walking distance of the lake as well as a playground and horseshoe court. In addition, the park office has sporting equipment and games for loan to registered guests.
Do you have a large group or a family reunion to plan? If your group enjoys the outdoors, you can reserve the group campground at Burr Oak State Park for tents and RVs year-round. The group campground has room for up to 50 guests and provides campfire rings, BBQ grills to cook on, and seven picnic tables so you can all sit and eat as a group.
These are primitive sites, though, and do not have electric, water, or modern restrooms. However, there are pit toilets and you can get water from the nearby day-use area restrooms. Located in the northern section of the park on the east side of the lake, the campground is near Boat Dock 3 and the Buckeye Trail off County Road 14. You and your group will have plenty of privacy and can enjoy your own piece of Burr Oak Lake as well.
If you want to bring your horse with you to enjoy the trails at Burr Oak State Park, reserve a site at Horseman’s Campground. There are only 10 sites here so make sure you book your spot well in advance, especially if you are planning your outing on a weekend or holiday. This equestrian campground is located along TR-107 where you can find the camp check-in station and restrooms. Each campsite here has a large space for you and your family as well as your horse and trailer.
Be sure to pack plenty of water for you and your family as there is no potable water nearby. You can use your generator to cook indoors or use a camp stove or the provided campfire grills outside. You will find several picnic tables as well, so you don’t have to try and balance your food on your lap in a camp chair. Your other four-legged friends are welcome too so go ahead and bring your pooch. Just make sure you keep them restrained during your stay.
If you are thinking of getting out of the RV for a night or two, plan ahead and make a reservation for one of the 38 guest rooms at Burr Oak Lodge. You can choose from a standard room with one king-sized bed or a suite with a king bed and bunk beds or king bed with a sleeper sofa. All of the rooms have a table and chairs, full bathroom, cable television, microwave oven, and refrigerator. There is even a complimentary coffee maker, hair dryer, and clock radio.
The lodge also has a huge restaurant that served breakfast, lunch, and dinner, an indoor pool, exercise room, playground with mini-golf, lounge, and gift shop. There are even basketball and tennis courts, a boat launch, and a beach out back. You will not have to worry about anything while you are here since the lodge provides everything you need for a great stay. However, pets are not allowed at the lodge.
If you want to stay indoors but you have your pooch with you, Burr Oak State Park has you covered for that as well. They have 30 cabins right by the lodge but a bit deeper in the woods so you can feel like you are really camping, but with all the amenities. Each cabin has air conditioning, cable television, full kitchen, bathroom, and living room. They even provide cooking and eating utensils, towels, and bedding. There is also a charcoal grill and screened in porch so you can enjoy the outdoors as well.
The standard cabins can accommodate up to five while the deluxe cabins can sleep up to eight guests. For those with a pup, there are eight pet-friendly cabins, but you must let them know when reserving your cabin. As a registered guest, you will have access to all of the lodge’s amenities such as the pool, restaurant, gift shop, and lounge, but pets are not allowed in the lodge. You will have to leave your pup behind if you go to the beach as well. However, she will be happy in the nice cool cabin.
You will certainly have plenty of opportunities to catch some whoppers if you remember to pack the fishing gear in the RV before heading to Burr Oak. According to the anglers in the area, sunfish and crappie are the most commonly caught fish. But if you drop some live bait to the bottom during the hottest time of the year (July and August), you will likely get some hits from some of the catfish and carp that hang out down there. Most catfish bite on shrimp, worms, and minnows. Bass enjoy all types of flies and artificial lures including crank baits, spinners, and jigs. Before you head out be sure to have an Ohio fishing license with you when fishing.
Whether you are new to disc golfing or are a seasoned pro, the 18-hole disc golf course at Burr Oak State Park is suited for everyone. The distance between holes range from 139 feet to 723 feet and much of it is technical with lots of trees and hills to contend with. The course mixes distance and elevation well, and the most difficult are holes 3, 10, and 11. Many of the holes have a narrow throwing lane but with some strategy and practice, this is a fun and beautiful course to play on.
Be sure to bring along one of those awesome backpacks made especially for hiking so you can head out on the over 25 miles of trails that cover almost the entire park. If you just want something short and easy to walk with the family, try the 0.4-mile Chipmunk Trail, which takes you from the lodge to the park office. The 0.5-mile Tanager Trail is also a nice short walk from the eastern edge of the lake to the Buckeye Trail. If you keep going on the Buckeye Trail, you better be stocked with water, snacks, and a first aid kit just in case. This is an 18-mile backpacking trail that can be difficult at times.
If you are a hunter, go ahead and pack your hunting gear in the motorhome before you head out because the park has hundreds of acres where you can hunt. Most of this area is along the northern sections of the park, far from the campgrounds and away from the swimming and boating areas. White-tailed deer are the most commonly sought-after game in the park and in the nearby Wayne National Forest. You can also fish for turkey, waterfowl, squirrels, and other small game. Make sure you follow the Ohio hunting rules and regulations and be sure to have your license and tags on you when hunting.
With three trails and several park roads to explore, you will want to bring your horse with you so you can enjoy the scenery on horseback. You can see so much more from up there. The seven-mile Backpack and Bridle Trail is blazed in yellow and takes you from the Horseman’s Camp to the Wildcat Hollow Trailhead, meandering along the western edge of the lake. The 7.5-mile Red Bridle Trail runs parallel to the Backpack and Bridle Trail but stays in the wooded areas of the park. And the 3.9-mile Blue Bridle Trail leads you along Park Road 4 and into the wild and wooded area between County Road 63 and the campground. Make sure you bring a negative Coggins test for your horse to show if asked.
Burr Oak State Park features a historical site and ghost town known as San Toy where an active mining community used to thrive. The small town was a mining community famous for a gunfight that occurred over a debt of $20 in the 1800s. A fire at the main coal mine and the closure down of another mine shaft in 1931 made this a ghost town as it is today. You can hike out to the church, which is a reminder of a town that once was a bustling village.