Posted in Central Ohio, Hiking, Park review

Mt. Gilead State Park

Update: 02/12/019: Note that the following article was published in the summer of 2016 and describes our experiences when visiting Mt. Gilead State Park. The dams have been repaired and other renovations have occurred since then. A 2014 new release by the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources itemizes the planned renovations. It is my understanding that all these renovations have since been completed.

Mount Gilead is a 191 acre state park in central Ohio which offers some nice hiking trails as well as opportunities for fishing, camping, and horseback riding. The park is located in the town of the same name which is about 45 minutes north of Columbus.

Autumn shoreline at Mt. Gilead State Park

The centerpiece of the park is a pair of lakes formed by earthen dams on Sam’s Creek. The lakes are stocked with trout and are popular with fisherman. The lakes are in a small valley with hills rising on either side of the lakes.

On the side nearest the park entrance, the park features campgrounds, a nature center, picnic shelters, and a playground. The campground has 59 sites. There is a 9-hole disc golf course. The park and nature center offer activities for both adults and children. Past programs include annual Taste of Country and Apple Butter Festivals, Earth Day hikes for adults and children, and a Nature Detective’s program for kids. See the link to the park web site at the bottom of this post for a current calendar of events.

The other side of the lake contains a network of hiking and bridle trails. Wooden bridges for pedestrians on either end of the lakes provide access to the trails for hikers. A parking / picnic area off US 42 provides access to the bridle trails and parking for horse trailers.

Including both the hiking trails and the bridle trails which are really multi-use trails, the park has about 5.5 miles of trails in total. The trails are reasonably well marked with both blazes and trail signs, and the trails pass through woodland and meadows. Some portions of the trails offer views of the lake. There are a few moderate hills. In the spring there are a variety of wildflower species lining the trail. In the fall, the park offers beautiful views of fall foliage, particularly along the lakes.

We’ve visited the park in the winter and have noted that the road to the lake (and hence to the trails) is closed during the winter season.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has allocated $6 million to improve facilities at the park. Projects include campsite improvements, a new shower house, dam repairs, improved trails, and an improved disc golf course.

Although we’ve visited the park several times in the past few years, most of the photos below were taken in the fall.

Viewing the lake from the trails
Midland painted turtle (Chrysemys picta marginata)
Bench near the shoreline
Corner of the lake near the dam in the fall.
View of the dam’s spillway

As you move upstream toward the inlet for Sam’s Creek, the lake becomes shallow with a lot of vegetation.

The wetland area toward the upstream portion of the lake.
View of the wetland in the upstream area of the lake.
Woodland trails
Trail leading to a bridge.
Trail in the fall
Boardwalk through wet area.
Bob on a bridge
Horseback riding on one of the bridle trails
Deb near one of the trees
Stairs leading up to campsite and public vault toilets
Wild blue phlox (Phlox divaricata), one of many wildflowers species that can be found along the trails in the spring.
The Nature Center

We visited the Nature Center a couple of weeks before Halloween, and we enjoyed the center’s holiday decorations. The naturalist was very helpful and we discussed some of the live specimens that were housed within. Since Deb was particularly interested in the turtles, the naturalist removed a few from their terrariums to answer Deb’s questions. As a bonus, the turtles had an opportunity to get some exercise.

The nature center, decorated for Halloween.
A red-eared slider from the nature center goes for a walk on the deck.
The naturalist at the nature center shows us a baby snapping turtle.

The park offers campsites suitable for RVs, trailers and tents. A number of amenities are provided for guests, including picnic shelters, a playground, disc golf course, basketball court, etc.

Tents pitched for a group outing. There are also campsites for RVs and trailers.
Picnic shelter
Outdoor movie theater for campers. It is located next to the nature center.
Disc golf at Mt. Gilead State Park
Basketball court and playground
Additional information

  • Address: 4119 State Route 95, Mt. Gilead, Ohio 43338
  • GPS Coordinates: 40.5485054,-82.8209415
  • Google Maps: View on map or get directions

More on Central Ohio

© Deborah Platt, Robert Platt and 2012 to 2021

2 thoughts on “Mt. Gilead State Park

  1. Good Afternoon, There has been many updates to the park which are not featured on your website. Could you update your information or take down this page? I greatly appreciate it.

    1. Our posts are essentially a travelogue describing our experiences at various parks and nature preserves. Each post is dated, so the reader has some idea of the time frame of our experiences. In the initial post we linked to the news release from the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources describing the planned renovations. I have added an update to the top of the post noting that the planned renovations have since been completed while linking once again to the itemized list from ODNR which describes the nature of the changes.

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