Diners, Dams & Covered Bridges: Mohican State Park
Twelve thousand years ago during the Ice Age, a glacier entered Ohio and formed a glacial boundary. Once the glacier melted, a dramatic gorge known as Clear Fork of the Mohican River today was formed. Dramatic is a bit of an understatement though. Anyone standing on the ridge would be breathless looking down. Sandstone bedrock is exposed on the sides and create steep cliff walls. Looking out as the trees are in various states of autumn shades gives one pause in order to appreciate the natural wonder in view. The gorge is one thousand feet wide at the top and three hundred feet deep. While it’s possible to hike up and down and all around, be prepared for some difficult drop offs and rock faces to scale in some spots, though they’re are easier paths for anyone not interested in scaling a wall during their meander into the forest.
Trees tower above as well and due to the the history and the historical growth on the lands, the National Park Service has dedicated this area as a Registered National Natural Landmark. There are 13 miles of hiking trails in Mohican State Park and 32 more miles of hiking trails in the adjacent State Forest. There are 8.5 miles of mountain bike trails and bridle paths too. And those are just the selling points for visiting written down on paper. Some of the paths are even equipped with wooden planks making them easy to walk on for young children that drag their feet and might trip on tree roots or rocks.
This state park is not only for the outdoors enthusiast, but there’s also a driving course for the family with little ones or the couple that would just prefer to lackadaisically take a gander.The park is outfitted with cabins available for rental as well, but if you’re in the area try something a little more unique like The Mohicans Treehouses or the Landoll’s Mohican Castle.
Some of the suggested views to take full advantage of the park include the gorge overlooks, a covered bridge, a discovery forest and the Pleasant Hill Dam built in 1936. The driving course allows one to see all of these and a few more along the way. There is also a historic fire tower that overlooks the area and is one of only eight fire towers that still exist in Ohio. It looks a bit steep and narrow to climb, but can provide some amazing panoramic views of the park.
Built in 1968, the covered bridge uses wood to look a bit vintage on top of steel construction beams engineered for safety. While many of the covered bridges in Ohio are no longer in use or blocked off, this one still provides a road that can be used and aisles on either side that can be walked across.
The Pleasant Hill Dam was constructed in 1936 on Clear Fork of the Mohican River for flood control. The 113 foot tall dam constructed by the United States Army Corps of Engineers formed the Pleasant Hill Lake which people now spend time canoeing and swimming in among other various activities.
Loudonville, Ohio, the town closest to the park is known as the “Canoe Capital of Ohio” and that should give you a pretty good idea of another activity that is widely popular here along the Mohican River. When not taking in the natural wonder of the landscape or the historical viewpoints along the way, be sure to stop in Loudonville for a walk down a picturesque main street. Laid out in 1814, this town has been up and running with a post office since 1820.
While the main drag seemed a bit desolate and closed down as we visited during the week just after high season, it was still fun to walk along. Stop into Hanover House Diner, an old school feel diner on the main strip just next to Hollinger’s for lunch. Note their very short hours and plan to get there in time as they’re only open from 11:00am to 3:00pm, but they are well worth a stop for some diner fare at its best. We literally ate their twice because it was the only place we could find.The little town is actually not super easy to navigate (the ONLY market in the area is down some back alleys), but on the main strip you will find a tourist office with ample information and all of the shops had very helpful staff. From canoe rental facilities to horse riding and more, there’s so many ways to enjoy the state park and the surrounding natural flora and fauna.
Mohican State Park is one of those places in Ohio that I absolutely adore. It’s got everything from history to nature, small town grub and plenty of outdoor activities. What’s not to love?
Mohican State Park
Address: 3116 State Route 3, Loudonville, Ohio 44842, USA