Photos by OHventures
Charles Mill Lake Park
1277 State Route 430
Mansfield, OH 44903
On my many road trips up north on Interstate 71, I often take Exit 176 to U.S. Route 30 East to head to places such as Akron, Canton, or Youngstown. Right when I get on Route 30, I am often met with spectacular views of a beautiful body of water to the south. Curious to catch more than just a drive-by glimpse of the sparkling waters, I recently decided to investigate.
Taking a right onto Route 603 led me right to what I came to discover as being Charles Mill Lake Park, located in Mifflin Township, Ashland County. The lake itself (aptly titled Charles Mill Lake) stretches into Richland County and the City of Mansfield as well. However, the popular park is in Richland County.
Charles Mill Lake Park is part of the larger Muskingum River Watershed Conservancy District, which covers more than 8,000 square miles and drains into the Muskingum River. This is the largest contained watershed in the state of Ohio, covering about 20 percent of the state (also included in the MWCD is Atwood Lake, which we previously featured on the site). Tradition holds that Johnny Appleseed (said to be an Ohio native) made his way through the area, and in 2004, the Johnny Appleseed Heritage Center opened nearby.
I visited CMLP near sundown, which provided a gorgeous sunset on the lake. I packed a picnic and met friends to sit down and enjoy the park. We ate along the lake, a peaceful 1,350-acre reservoir with 2,000 acres of land. Afterwards, we hiked on designated trails through the woods. There were a great deal of gnats and insects flying about, which was annoying, since we did not think to bring bug spray. However, the hiking trails were not on difficult terrain and were easily navigable.
After our hike through the woods and along the reservoir, we took a look at the countless boats docked in the marina. Fishing and boating are popular activities at Charles Mill Lake, and the marina rents and sells various watercraft, providing licensing services if needed. It also provides fuel and supplies year-round as well as a launching dock.
Located near the marina is a sandy beach, which is accessible to the public with a fee of $5 per vehicle. The swimming beach also includes a volleyball court, playground, and sheltered picnic area.
Calm and relaxing, the scenic Charles Mill Lake Park is a perfect afternoon getaway for hiking and picnicking. Camping (in cabins or otherwise) is also popular throughout the park for those interested in an extended visit.