Posted in Hiking, Park review, Southwestern Ohio

Caesar Creek State Park

We only sampled a small part of the offerings at Caesar Creek State Park, but we liked what we saw! Caesar Creek caters to a diverse variety of interests. Whether you want to hike, camp, swim, fish, mountain bike, ride on a bridle trail, go boating, or even hunt fossils, Caesar Creek has it all.

Boating on Caesar Creek Lake

The park is located just off I-71 between Columbus and Cleveland in Warren County. We visited the park after hiking at nearby Caesar Creek Gorge Nature Preserve.

The main feature of the park is Caesar Creek Lake which was created in 1978 when the US Army Corps of Engineers built a dam across Caesar Creek. A beach is available for swimming, and the lake can be used for fishing and boating.

Dam at Caesar Creek State Park
Caesar Creek spillway
A Mennonite couple fishing

A large, modern visitors center has exhibits that describe the history and geology of the area. At the visitors center you can buy a detailed map of the park’s hiking trails. You can also get a (free) license to hunt for fossils in the emergency spillway.

Visitor Center at Caesar Creek State Park
This is one of the exhibits in the Visitor’s Center. During the first half of the twentieth century, the Army Corps of Engineers used hard-hat, diving equipment to inspect dams and locks along the Ohio River. Now cameras and remote sensing devices are used.

The trail head for one of the parks trails starts at the visitors center, but we choose to drive across the road and down to the base of the dam so we could hike the Gorge Loop Trail. Shaded picnic areas surround the parking lot at the dam’s base. There are also modern restrooms and a water fountain next to the parking lot.

From the dam’s spillway, Caesar Creek continues on and eventually enters a gorge valley within the state park (the nature preserve is several miles farther downstream). Near the parking lot, a large wooden observation platform overlooks the creek. From this vantage point, you can look upstream at the dam or downstream at the gorge valley. There’s also an iron, pedestrian bridge (built in the 1921) that crosses Caesar Creek. A little beyond the bridge is the trailhead for the one-mile Gorge Loop Trail. Since it is a loop trail, you can either go left and up, or you can go to the right and follow the creek downstream. We chose to follow the creek.

Deck overlooking Caesar Creek downstream from the dam
Iron bridge crossing Caesar Creek. It leads from the parking lot near the dam’s base to the Gorge Loop Trail on the other side.

After a few hundred feet the trail turned away from the creek and went inland. We followed the trail to a fork where a wooden bridge crossed a little rocky stream (which presumably fed into Caesar Creek) and continued on and a set of wooden stairs going up a hillside overlooking the stream. Our trail went up, so we left the bridge for another time.

As we climbed up and up next to the unnamed stream, we realized that this stream was in a fairly impressive gorge valley too. Eventually we reached a ridgeline between the unnamed stream and Caesar Creek. Side trails beckoned (such as the “Fossil Trail”), but we stayed on the original trail. We snaked back and forth across the ridge line, crossed a wooden bridge, and eventually passed a green pond with frogs and turtles. Finally we came to a paved path that led down to our starting point.

There were a number of stairs built near the side of the gorge.
Walking along the side of the gorge on the Gorge Loop Trail
The dark portion to the right of the photo is where the gorge is.
We are moving away from the gorge into the forest now. I liked that they built benches into this bridge.
A marsh in the forest off the Gorge Loop Trail
Turtle basking on logs in the marsh
Multiflora Rose near the marsh; it’s pretty, but it’s an invasive shrub here.
Fruit-bearing squawroot along the Gorge Loop Trail

There are two longer hiking trails, the Visitors Center Trail (7.2 miles) and the Spillway Trail (4.3 miles), plus a portion of the Buckeye Trail goes through the park. There are also four bridle trails, and two mountain biking trails. The park has 283 (electric) camp sites (all pet friendly), plus another 30 designated for equestrians. There is a 1,300 foot beach available for swimming.

Across the dam (via Clarkesville Rd) from the visitor center is the fossil hunting area. Continuing on Clarksville Rd, you will intersect Oregonia Rd. At the intersection is store Spillway Party Supply & Bait Shop (7646 Oregonia Road, Waynesville OH 45068 — 513-897-9334). This store caters to campers, fisherman, and picnickers. Off Oregonia Rd is the park nature center (which was closed on the weekend) and a Pioneer Village (open on weekends)

Bullfrog in pond near the Nature Center
Tadpoles with sprouting legs!
A cabin at the Pioneer Village in Caesar Creek State Park
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© Deborah Platt, Robert Platt and 2012 to 2021

3 thoughts on “Caesar Creek State Park

    1. Thank you, Carol.

      Yesterday I was at Cedar Bog and got to see some really pretty flowers (pink lady’s-slippers and grass pink). You would have loved them. 🙂 I hope to share some of their photos sometime next week.

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