West Branch State Park
Guide

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Introduction

Michael J. Kirwan Reservoir is a 2,650-acre lake located in West Branch State Park. It is a popular destination for fishermen and boaters during the summer months. You will love exploring the many forks, coves, and underwater rocks by boat. The varying habitats provide homes to many marine creatures, which you will be able to spot during your walks along the river. Occasionally white-tailed deer will stop by the streams for a drink, and you can spot quacking waterfowl flapping their wings over head.

This lake is located on the glaciated plateau of Northeastern Ohio. Surrounding it are vast expanses of meadows, and woodlots teaming with flora and fauna. These areas are beloved for camping and continuously traversed by hikers and horseback riders. The maple beech forest is a particular favorite, as the trees provide shade during strenuous excursions. Take your time to enjoy the tranquility and explore this untouched nature. Other popular activities in the region include biking narrow mountain tracks, hunting waterfowl, and swimming in the lake.

West Branch State Park has docks, beaches, picnic areas, a boat launch ramp, and a large area for camping. You will have access to a dump station, pit latrines, basketball court, telephone booth, flushing toilets, and a laundromat to wash necessities. There are 150 electric campsites, 22 non-electric equestrian campsites, 29 campsites with full hookups, and 14 non-electric campsites. Campervans and RVs are more than welcome in the spacious campground, with some campsites large enough to accommodate rigs up to 80 feet in length.

RV Rentals in West Branch State Park

Transportation in West Branch State Park

Driving

The park is located a beautiful stretch of wilderness situated between Ravenna, Charlestown, Wayland and Edinburg. It is a short one-hour drive from Cleveland, Ohio, yet gives you the chance to escape busy city life. There are several roads which surround the Michael J. Kirwan Lake, leading to the campground.

West Branch State Park has a large number of parking lots and paved roads leading from the day use areas to the campsites. Since they are paved, they stay easily driveable all year round. Some walking and biking trails, however, do get shut down during wet season. Most of the campsites are large and have enough space for trailers, campervans, and rigs. There is plenty of space to maneuver if you need to drive out to one of the nearby towns to buy supplies.

Parking

Public Transport

Campgrounds and parking in West Branch State Park

Campsites in West Branch State Park

Reservations camping

West Branch State Park Campground

The West Branch State Park Campground has 224 campsites, most of which are electric. The campground has many facilities including flushing toilets, a dumping station, recycling station, shower blocks, bath house, camp store, comfort station, amphitheater, fire rings, and many more. For young nature lovers, during the peak season the campground also features naturalist programs.

There are 150 electric campsites, 29 campsites with full hookups, 14 non-electric campsites, and 22 equestrian non-electric campsites. All of the campsites are large and several have a drive way length up to 80 feet. If you have a large campervan or RV, double check what size campsite you book online.

Not all campsites allow pets, so make sure to double check in your specific camping area. All reservations can be made up to six months in advance.

First-come first-served

Alternate camping

Seasonal activities in West Branch State Park

In-Season

Mountain Biking

The southern side of the West Branch State Park has several mountain bike trails for eager bikers. The favorite of many visitors is an 11-mile long trail along the bank of the lake which features picturesque views and stunning scenery. The trail is quite technical as it features roots and rock gardens, and it's perfect for practice and gaining experience before continuing onto harder trails. The trail starts at the parking lot and continues directly into the woods.

A more difficult trail is the 2.3-mile Quarry Trail. It is a loop that you can ride in both directions, challenging yourself to steep sections and tricky maneuvering. You will be able to see the old quarry and spot beautiful wildlife.

If there is a lot of rain, the trails are closed for safety reasons. They are also shut during hunting season from fall to winter.

Fishing

You can opt to fish from your boat or directly from the shore. Either way, the reservoir houses a large amount of habitats for fish. Some of the fish you can expect to catch include small mouth bass, walleye, crappie, blue gill, catfish, and muskellunge. The reservoir has many trophy-sized fish with which you can try your luck.

Keep in mind that you need a valid Ohio fishing license and you'll want to pack your fishing gear in your camping trailer. There is access to the reservoir from three paved and two gravel launch areas. Plus, the fishing pier is ADA-accessible.

Boating

Whether you have your own boat and wish to use the public boat launch or you want to rent a boat, the Michael J. Kirwan Reservoir is an ideal place for a day on the water. RV visitors enjoy relaxing on the boats, exploring the many coves around the reservoir, or visiting Goose Island. Another popular family activity is jet tubing or water skiing behind powerboats. If you do rent your boat there, it is advisable to get the fastest boat available to maximize your fun. The lake has unlimited horsepower, however, it has a no-wake zone 300 feet from the shoreline.

Many of the campsites allow you to pull up directly to them in your boat, so you can hop straight in to start your adventure. One of the downsides of this, is that there is a lot of jet skiing and tubing noise throughout the day by the waterfront campsites.

Off-Season

Hiking

There are several hikes available in the West Branch State Park. The northern side of the park features mostly horse riding trails and campgrounds. On the southern side, there is the very popular Cable Line Road Trail which follows a paved road which has been allowed to be taken over by nature. The eastern end of Cable Line Road leads to beautiful scenic views of the lake. There is also the 11-mile mountain bike trail which can be hiked along. However, make sure to get out of the way if you see a mountain bike. Some of the trails are not clearly marked, so bring your compass, map, and a sense of adventure when exploring the nature.

During the summertime there are many mosquitoes in the area so make sure to bring your repellent in your camper. Grab your water bottle, map, and head on out into the Ohio wilderness.

Horseback Riding

The northern side of the West Branch State Park is dedicated to camping and horseback riding. There are 20 miles of trails which you and your horses can explore. The trail starts from a two-mile drive from the campground and features some flat easy trails along with some steep ravines. There are wooded areas and open fields, which provide you and your horse open spaces along with shade from the sun.

There are 10 equestrian campsites dedicated especially to riders which have enormous plots of land for trailers and RVs. These have gravel pads, manure pits, and picket lines specifically for the horses. Along the basic flush toilets, showers, there is a horse wash to cool your mounts after a hard ride. If you need a mounting block, there is one available in the area.

The area is not restricted to campers, if you wish to only come for the day there are parking lots available for day riders.

Hunting

Of the enormous West Branch State Park, 4,000 acres of land are available for public hunting. The topography ranges from flat to high rolling hills.There are large amounts of squirrels, rabbits, raccoons, woodchuck, muskrat, mink, and opossums. The forests and meadows also have a healthy population of white-tailed dear wandering around. The lakes have waterfowl which are one of the favorite animals by hunters.

Hunting is allowed on the Southwest edge of the reservoir. The area directly next to the campground is a no hunting zone. Make sure to get yourself a valid hunting license and keep an eye out for poachers who are violating state laws.

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