Posted in Hiking, Park review, Southeastern Ohio

Dillon State Park

Dillon State Park is a 2,285-acre park located in Muskingum County. The parks has 9.6 miles of multi–use trails, 1.25 miles of trails used exclusively for hiking, 15 miles of bridle trails, and 12 miles mountain bike trails. For those in the Columbus area, the park is about an hour to an hour-and-a-half drive east of the capitol. We had never been to Dillon State Park before, so when we heard the park was hosting its first annual winter hike on January 9th, we decided to participate.

Heading out on the Licking Bend Trail. Dillon Reservoir can be seen in the distance.

We attended the first of two guided hikes being offered that day. The guide was the park’s naturalist, Andy Tippel. The entire hike was about 2.4 miles following the Licking Bend multi-use trail. During the hike there was an elevation gain of 365 feet. We departed from the parking lot adjacent to the park office, and we ended near picnic area (C). The staff had erected a tent that sheltered a number of picnic tables; hikers had an opportunity to warm themselves by the fire and to enjoy some hot chocolate or other refreshments. Then a small bus picked us up and took us back to the park office where we had parked. I note in passing that the Licking Bend Trail is six miles in its entirety, so we only did a portion of the trail during this visit.

Below is a GPS trace of our hike. If you like, you can also examine the map directly on Google Maps. We started at the green marker to the right and hiked to the red marker to the left.

We were parked near the park office, which includes a gift shop and bathrooms with flush toilets, among other things.

Park office which among other things contains a camp store and restrooms.

We were there early. The small, white bus that would take hikers back to their cars was already parked.

Our bus is to the right. The trailhead for the Licking Bend Trail is to rear near the center of the photo.

A small cabin for the park’s naturalist is located on the parking lot’s asphalt not far from the trailhead.

The naturalist’s cabin

We were soon traveling close enough to the reservoir to get a look at the lake through the trees.

View of reservoir through the trees.

Andy pointed to a tunnel on the other side of the lake and told us that by canoeing through the tunnel, we could reach an area of the park where we might stand a good chance of seeing eagles. In the embedded Google Map, this is marked with a blue icon depicting a person canoeing toward the lower left of the map.

Andy indicated that we could canoe or kayak through this tunnel.

The trail was well marked with blazes, and there were signs at trail intersections. It was easy to choose the correct trail.

The trail was well-blazed.
Sign alerting us to an upcoming intersection.

The trail did have some ups and downs to it, which is something that I like. We also got a look at some deer on our way, though I don’t have photos of them.

We traveled over hills and dales.

We traveled near some of the parks primitive campsites.

This primitive campsite was off one side of our trail.
This side trail lead up to a campsite.

We also passed some rocky outcroppings with more that could be seen in the distance.

Some hikers approaching one of the outcroppings.

Eventually we came to a clearing that took us past the sledding hill and an archery range. In the embedded map, the sledding hill is marked by a blue, sledding icon, and the archery range is marked by a yellow star.

The sledding hill is grooved to guide inner tubes down the hill.
Archery range.

Andy said that during the summer there are opportunities to learn archery. Archery is a sport that I haven’t really tried, but which has always looked appealing. I should stop by this summer and give it a whirl!

Given the time of year we were hiking, there wasn’t a whole lot of greenery. However, Andy did point out some of the lichen species that we were passing. Since he has an interest in ethnobotany (which includes the study of how man has made use of wild plants), it would be interesting to participate in a guided tour in warmer weather when hikers would be exposed to more plants.

Andy explained that shield lichen is so named because of its tendency to grow in round, shield-like shapes. I believe the scientific name is avoparmelia caparata.

When we reached the end point for our hike, there was tent to shelter in, plus a campfire and refreshments.

We are just arriving at the end point. However, it’s intersting to node that the shield lichens on the tree to the left are growing together into a blob.
Hikers had a chance to warm up near the fire before a bus took us back to our parking lot.

Once we got on the bus to go to where our car was parked, the driver gave us the opportunity to see a little more of the park. We drove by the cabins, the campsites with electrical outlets, the disc golf course, and the boat launch. We enjoyed our introduction to Dillon State Park, and it was interesting to hear the variety of programs that were offered at the park, both educational and sporting. Since this really isn’t that far of a drive for people who live in central Ohio like us, we plan on visiting again in warmer weather.

Additional information

Dillon Hills Drive Entrance
  • Address: 5265 Dillon Hills Drive, Nashport, Ohio 43830-9568
  • GPS Coordinates: 40.023144, -82.1146891
  • Google Maps: View on map or get directions

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© Deborah Platt, Robert Platt and 2012 to 2021

2 thoughts on “Dillon State Park

  1. This is great. There is a hike tomorrow, Jan 7th, 10 AM and Noon. I want to go at least part way. We need MORE hikes at Dillon. Great area!

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