There are 110 natural lakes in Ohio, which together cover a surface area of 4,658 acres. Of Ohio’s 88 counties, 21 counties have natural lakes. Including public and private lakes, many of which are human-made, there are about 5,130 lakes. The largest lakes accessible in Ohio are Lake Erie, Pymatuning Reservoir, Grand Lake St. Mary’s, Mosquito Creek Lake, Indian Lake, Berlin Lake, Shenango River Lake, and Senacaville Lake.
However, this does not include the numerous small ponds, which are many in number but have small acreage. If you count these, there are around 50,000 bodies of water (lakes and small ponds) in Ohio! These make up a surface area of 200,000 acres!
However, of all of these lakes, only 447 are accessible to the public and have five or more acres of surface area. 186 of these are public reservoirs. Swimming in natural bodies of water, including oceans, lakes, and rivers, is a great way to relax and enjoy time outside. Thankfully, Ohio has many beautiful beaches!
To help you find a place to cool down and get outside this summer, here are some of the best lakes in Ohio where you can go swimming this summer.
Warnings About Swimming in Lakes and Ponds
While swimming in lakes and rivers can be a wonderful way to get outside, it is important to be aware of the germs that may be present in contaminated water. It is important to be cautious and take a few simple steps that can keep you safe and healthy.
- Check online to find out whether a lake or river is monitored, under advisory, or closed for health and safety reasons.
- If you have any cuts or open wounds, consult with a healthcare provider before swimming in a natural body of water.
- Stay out of the water if the water looks discolored or cloudy or smells bad, you see pipes draining into the water, or you are sick with diarrhea.
- If you have any open cuts or wounds, stay out of the water or use a waterproof bandage to color the affected area. Swimming in bodies of water can cause germs to get into an open wound and make you sick.
- Don’t swallow water, keep sand away from your mouth, do not poop in the water, and take children on bathroom breaks to keep the swim area clean.
With these guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in mind, enjoy your time outdoors swimming in lakes and rivers near you!
Tappan Lake, in Deersville, Ohio, is near a restored Native community by Shoenbrunn State Park and is part of the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District. This beautiful lake is a popular destination for summer swimming, boating, and camping. This 2,350-acre lake is a reservoir that offers two public boat launch ramps, a marina with dock rentals and boat rentals, over 500 campsites, and 11 vacation cabins. Lay out on the swimming bench, watch Fourth of July fireworks, hike the nearby trails, or go fishing.
The Tappan Lake beach is open annually from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Beach-goers swim at your own risk with no lifeguards on duty. There are also changing rooms, restrooms, a pavilion, and a beach concession stand. The beach hours are Monday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Salt Fork Lake
Salt Fork Lake, in Lore City, Ohio, is a peaceful lake in Salt Fork State Park. Ohio’s Salt Fork State Park is the largest state park in Ohio and covers 17,229 acres of Guernsey County. This park has incredibly diverse species of plants, geological features like shelter caves and sandstone blocks, and wildlife like wild turkeys and white-tailed deer.
In addition to hunting and fishing opportunities, campsites, 14 scenic hiking trails, and a snowmobile loop, in the park, Salt Fork Lake includes a public swimming beach. This 2,952-acre lake includes a 2,550-foot beach, which is among the largest inland beaches in Ohio. The beach features a concession stand, changing rooms, restrooms, and outdoor showers open for visitors. You may go swimming during daylight hours, but swim at your own risk since no lifeguards are present. The beach is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
If you want to enjoy a longer period of rest and relaxation, the nearby Salt Fork Lodge is a nature resort with indoor and outdoor pools, a golf course, and a private beach for visitors.
Cedar Point Beach on Lake Erie
Cedar Point Beach, in Sandusky, Ohio, is a public beach located along Lake Erie. This mile-long beach attracts visitors who want to enjoy the shoreline and enjoy Cedar Point’s amusement park. From beach bungalows to jet skiing and windsurfing, Cedar Point is a premiere Ohio destination for fun in the sun near, on, and in the water.
Cedar Point Beach is a great way to enjoy the beautiful Great Lake, Lake Erie, in a safe way. Lake Erie is a biologically productive, diverse Great Lake that is the fourth-largest of the Great Lakes and the eleventh-largest lake in the world. It also has warm, shallow water compared to many of the other Great Lakes, making it a favorite for swimmers. However, Lake Erie can have dangerous currents that flow quickly and pull swimmers away from shore. Therefore, swimmers must approach swimming in Lake Erie with great caution.
With that in mind, Cedar Point Beach can be a great place to enjoy Lake Erie safely, within roped-off swimming areas. Cedar Point Beach also offers beach volleyball, lounge chairs, jet ski rentals, and restrooms. Visitors may go open-water swimming during Cedar Point’s operating hours.
Headlands Beach State Park on Lake Erie
Headlands Beach State Park in Mentor, Ohio, offers the longest natural sand beach in the state. This 35-acre beach on Lake Erie opened in 1953 as Painesville Beach State Park but was renamed two years later. This gigantic beach attracts many visitors every year and has been named among the top U.S. beaches. Since Lake Erie does not have many sand dunes and sandy beaches, Headlands Dunes State Nature Preserve is a unique habitat for many plant and animal species in Ohio.
Not only does Headlands Beach State Park offer a sandy beach to enjoy sunbathing and swimming, but you may enjoy walking the beach looking for sea glass or watching the vibrant sunset at the end of the day. Enjoy picnicking, birdwatching, fishing, hiking, or many winter recreation opportunities when the water is too cold for swimming. The mile-long paved trail for walking and biking runs the length of the park area and connects to the adjacent Headlands Dunes State Nature Preserve, which has many other trails.
During the summer, visitors may get food and drinks from a concession stand, access restrooms, and dispose of trash in park dumpsters. Glass, alcohol, and pets are prohibited on the beach. The beach is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
Punderson State Park Lake
Punderson State Park in Newbury Township, Ohio, has a 150-acre natural kettle lake that features a small swimming beach. Kettles form when, in history, a block of “dead” ice detaches from the glacier. The dead ice becomes buried in sediment and melts, leaving behind a pit. In many cases, water begins to fill the depression and forms a pond or lake known as a kettle. These are often shallow and relatively small lakes that are circular in shape.
As a kettle lake, Punderson State Park Lake is the largest and deepest kettle lake in Ohio. Punderston State Park Lake has a 600-foot public beach with designated swimming areas. This beach opens every year after Memorial Day and stays open until Labor Day. In addition to swimming, Punderson State Park Lake is a great location to enjoy other outdoor activities, including paddling, fishing, camping, disc golfing, and hiking along the lake’s beautiful shoreline.
Visitors say that the lake is easy to access and there is plenty of room to spread out and enjoy your favorite outdoor activities. A nearby lodge also overlooks the lake and is a beautiful place to stay and enjoy a mini summer vacation.
Buck Creek State Park’s Clarence J. Brown Reservoir
Buck Creek State Park in Springfield includes a reservoir that is the result of a flood control project on Buck Creek. The Clarence J. Brown Dam and Reservoir were created by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, with construction beginning in September 1966. Buck Creek State Park officially opened in June 1975, and the resulting reservoir is managed by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
The park offers numerous recreational opportunities on and around the 2,120-acre lake. Today, the reservoir in Buck Creek State Park features a 2,400-foot sandy beach where visitors can lounge on the sand or cool down in the water when it gets hot. However, visitors should be aware that the reservoir has a rocky bottom, and prepare by wearing water shoes.
Portage Lakes in Portage Lakes State Park is a system of interconnected waterways in Summit County near Akron, Ohio. This system is comprised of eight lakes, which offer visitors ample opportunity for swimming, boating, and fishing. Several of these lakes were originally built to be feeder reservoirs for canals built around the city of Akron. The reservoirs helped the canals to keep their required depth of 4 feet until being abandoned in 1913. Then, the lakes were used to supply water for local industry. Though the canals are no longer maintained, you may still navigate parts of the remnant canals in Akron by boat.
The state park is 411 acres of wetland area, beaches, and hiking trails, which provide many opportunities for birdwatching, hunting, and boating.
One of the favorite places to go swimming in Portage Lakes is at Turkeyfoot Lake, which has a 900-foot public beach, plenty of parking, and many surrounding hiking trails and picnic areas. If Turkeyfoot Lake is not for you, Rex Lake and Cottage Grove Lake both also have swimming areas for boaters.
Madison Lake State Park in Madison County, Ohio, features a 106-acre reservoir and 300-foot beach. Madison Lake State Park sits within the Darby Plains of Madison County, which were originally a forest area and a small number of wetlands and prairies. The State of Ohio began developing a lake in 1946 from a small tract of land, starting with a dam constructed across Deer Creek. The lake was filled in 1947 and the 106-acre reservoir, Madison Lake, came under the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Management in 1950.
Since then, Madison Lake has become a peaceful getaway for visitors. You may sail, canoe or kayak, hike, or swim. Visitors may walk a one-mile lakeshore trail, enjoy kayaking, boating, fishing, and picnicking, or the designated dog swim area where pets may go off-leash to frolic in the lake water.
Mineral Springs Lake
Mineral Springs Lake in Adams County, Ohio, is a 100-acre fishing lake. The lake is surrounded by 500 acres of hiking trails and serene nature. Mineral Springs Lake is a natural spring-fed lake. The surrounding park area offers hundreds of campsites, boating, fishing, and kayaking opportunities. It all takes place in a picturesque and peaceful setting. Called one of the top cleanest lakes in Ohio, Mineral Springs Lake is teeming with wildlife. Among the unique species of fish and creatures in the lake, you may see the unique non-stinging freshwater jellyfish. Visitors may also enjoy beach activities such as sunbathing, volleyball, a playground, basketball courts, horseback riding trails, and many other amenities.
Mineral Springs Lake Resort in Peebles, Ohio, also provides another way to enjoy the lake. The resort offers activities for kids. It has a dedicated swimming area. You can access the lake via resort boats. Additionally, the resort offers convenient proximity to town. This makes it easy for you to enjoy area restaurants or shop for your lake adventure essentials.
Nelson Ledges Quarry Park Lake
Nelson Ledges Quarry Park Lake is a spring-fed lake in Garrettsville in Portage County, Ohio. This “hidden gem” has crystal clear, refreshing water, a sandy beach, and a stunning forest surrounding it. The beautiful Nelson Ledges Quarry Park is 250 acres of beautiful landscape with fishing spots, campsites, festival venues, and rock ledges. These rock ledges in the unique quarry setting also provide something for adrenaline seekers: cliff jumping!
The average water depth is 30 feet. This unique quarry lake is rated as one of the cleanest lakes in Ohio. This cleanliness is due to the natural spring-fed water in the lake. Whether you intend to jump into the water from a designated cliff-jumping area or enjoy a shallow, roped-off beach, Nelson Ledges Quarry Park has certified lifeguards watching over the swimming areas every day. The lake is open for swimming from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. during the summer. For those who want to explore underwater life, masks, and snorkels allow for unique scuba swimming in the extremely clear water. If swimming isn’t your thing, camp on the isolated campsites or fish in the two designated fishing lakes. While you cannot bring your dog during most of the summer season, during the off-season you may hike the surrounding area with your furry friends!
Go Enjoy Lakes in Ohio
Do you want to enjoy Ohio’s natural beauty? Are you looking for endless outdoor activities? Or do you need a reason to unplug from technology? Regardless of the reason, one of these lakes in Ohio is the perfect place for you to enjoy the outdoors this summer! This short list only includes ten lakes in Ohio. There are so many other lakes and swimming holes in Ohio you may explore and enjoy.
Summary of the 10 Best Ohio Lakes For Swimming
|2||Salt Fork Lake||Lore City|
|3||Cedar Point Beach on Lake Erie||Sandusky|
|4||Headlands Beach State Park on Lake Erie||Mentor|
|5||Punderson State Park Lake||Newbury Township|
|6||Buck Creek State Park’s Clarence J. Brown Reservoir||Springfield|
|8||Madison Lake||Madison County|
|9||Mineral Springs Lake||Adams County|
|10||Nelson Ledges Quarry Park Lake||Garrettsville|
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