Mt. Gilead State Park, south of Mansfield Ohio, is a small Ohio State Park that offers a getaway in nature for families!
My family first visited Mt. Gilead State Park during the summer of 2020 when nearly everyone was seeking out outdoor activities for their families! The park has become a great halfway location for us to meet up with my parents who live in Northeast Ohio and we can spend the day together fishing, picnicking and playing in the park!
Mt. Gilead is a smaller state park which makes it very manageable and easy to see in a day or an afternoon. With picnic shelters, a natural-themed playground, fishing and creeking there are many activities that families with kids of all ages can enjoy!
Here are some activities your family can do when visiting Mt. Gilead State Park:
1. Camping at Mt. Gilead State Park Campground
While my family did not camp during our visit to the park we noticed the campground immediately when we arrived!
The campground has 22 full-service sites with water, sewer and electric and 37 electric sites. Some of the sites have a deck/overlook and others are nestled in a beautiful area amongst tall pine trees. There is a nice shower house and camp store on site.
Additionally, there are two Camper Cabins inside the campground area that offer 2 bunk beds, microwave, refrigerator, TV, and household items.
Reservations can be made at the campground at Mt Gilead State Park up to 6 months in advance. Reservations can be made online or by calling 1-866-644-6727.
2. Fishing in Mt. Gilead Lake
The ODNR website states that the Mt. Gilead Lake contains bass, bluegill and other panfish. I don’t know my fish very well and we didn’t manage to catch anything while were were there so I will take their word for it. LOL! There were other fishermen there having better luck than us so I can validate that there are fish in the lake!
A valid Ohio fishing license is required to fish in the lakes if you are 16 and older. Your Ohio fishing license can be purchased online or at a local marina.
My boys enjoyed playing in the shallow area west of the dam at the Lower Lake. In fact we spent a LOT of time here. They were very entertained and were not deterred when it began to sprinkle! Bring water shoes and some nets to play in the water and look for minnows if that’s your jam!
There is a parking area closer to this creek area that is west of the main park entrance on Route 95. Or you can access this area by walking on the hiking trail around the lake. Take a look at the map of the park before you visit!
There are two playgrounds at Mt. Gilead State Park. When you first pull into the park there is a playground by the campground area. There is also a sand volleyball court, a picnic pavilion and a Little Free Library here, too!
Further into the park, there is a small, natural-themed playground on the property with a tunnel, slides, climbing structures and swings. Also in this area, there is also a basketball court and a disc golf course.
They have also recently added a Gaga Ball Pit! This game seems to be a a contained version of dodge ball. The sign says that it has its roots in Israel and “Ga” means “hit” or “touch”. I’ve started to see these pits pop up in local parks, most recently in Hannah Park in Gahanna.
Picnic areas are located throughout the park. There are convenient pavilion areas near the restrooms and across from the playground.
6. Hiking the Trails within Mt. Gilead State Park
Hiking in Mt. Gilead State Park is on unpaved trails. There are 6 trails, the longest being the Lake View Trail at 1.7 miles. Most of our hiking was done around the Lower Lake and the Piney Woods Loop which extends north of the dam.
7. Boating on the Upper and Lower Lakes
Paddle boats, sailboats and boats with electric motors are allowed on the Mt. Gilead Lake. The Lower Lake is where the boating and the fishing take place. The Upper Lake has been pretty much drained when we have visited.
9. Bird Watching
Near the main office of the campground, there is a bird blind were you can watch for birds that come to eat from the feeders that are in the woods. Inside the building there are windows to watch from and a bird identification guide. Kids can stand on the steps to see out the windows and watch for their favorite birds!
10. Nature Center
Because our visits took place in 2020/2021, I can’t tell you a whole lot about the Nature Center due to it being closed. But keep an eye on its reopening for special events and educational displays.
11. Pick up an Ohio State Parks Passport
If exploring Ohio State Parks is something you enjoy, make sure to pick up a Park Passport! When you visit, you can collect stamps from park rangers. The book also includes stickers you can use if a Nature Center isn’t open or you can’t find someone to stamp the book for you.
This little gem is just $10 and gives lots of information about each park. It’s actually a really great reference tool if you’re looking for somewhere new to visit! There were so many parks I didn’t even know about. The book is conveniently divided by area of the state!
Things to do Near Mt. Gilead State Park
Ohio Bird Sanctuary
If you’re looking for something else to do in the area, about 25 minutes from Mt. Gilead is Ohio Bird Sanctuary where you can see birds who have been injured and can no longer live in the wild. There is an outdoor bird display, butterfly gardens, a natural play area and opportunities for hiking!
Downtown Mansfield, Ohio
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