11 Ways to Explore Mt. Gilead State Park with your Family

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Mt. Gilead State Park, south of Mansfield Ohio, is a small Ohio State Park that offers a getaway in nature for families!

bench next to the lake in Mt. Gilead State Park

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 Lake, Ohio

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

campsite areas at Mt. Gilead State Park

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.

two camper cabins at Mt. Gilead State Park.

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

dad and two boys fishing at 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!

Trees reflecting in the water in the lake at Mt. Gilead State Park

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.

3. Creeking

boy walking on the rocks in the creek

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!

the dam at Mt. Gilead State Park near Mansfield, Ohio

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!

4. Playgrounds

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!

playground and pavilion at Mt. Gilead State Park Camping Area.

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.

playground at Mt. Gilead State Park Campground

natural themed playground at Mt. Gilead State Park

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.

Gaga Pit for Playing Ball.

5. Picnicking

picnic pavilion at Mt. Gilead State Park

Picnic areas are located throughout the park. There are convenient pavilion areas near the restrooms and across from the playground.

covered picnic pavilion at Mt. Gilead State Park in Ohio

6. Hiking the Trails within Mt. Gilead State Park

hiking trail at 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. 

dirt hiking trail leading up the hill into woods.

7. Boating on the Upper and Lower Lakes

lake and trees in the park

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.

Bridge between the Upper and Lower Lakes at Mt. Gilead State Park.

the upper lake at Mt. Gilead State Park.

9. Bird Watching

birdwatching blind at Mt. Gilead State Park.

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!

inside the bird watching blind with windows and benches.

10. Nature Center

Nature Center at Mt. Gilead State Park.

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!

Ohio State Park Passport

You can purchase the Park Passport online or within the parks. We were able to purchase our Passport at the Salt Fork State Lodge.

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

Take a ride on the carousel, grab lunch or a cup of coffee, and visit Little Buckeye Children’s Museum in downtown Mansfield, about 40 minutes away.

Exploring Columbus with Your Kids

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Exploring Mt. Gilead State Park in Ohio



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