Forested hills, a picturesque lake and the lazy Ohio River characterize 791-acre Forked Run State Park. Located in the heart of Appalachia, colorful history, riverboats, scenic vistas and abundant wildlife give the park its rural charm.
The colorful history and folklore of the Ohio River create the character of Forked Run State Park. The Ohio River felt the pull of the Indian's paddle, served as a territorial boundary, brought settlers into the Northwest Territory and carried flatboats and "steamers" that shipped passengers and cargo from Pittsburgh to New Orleans.
The mouth of the Shade River which empties into the Ohio nearby was known as a gloomy, rocky place called the Devil's Hole. The Indians returning from their raids into western Virginia routinely crossed the Ohio at that point with their prisoners and plunder. They would travel through the valley of the Shade River on the way to their towns on the Scioto. Settlement of the area was slow to develop until the Indian threat had subsided and the discovery of coal in the region provided means of support.
As mining increased, towns sprang up along the Ohio. Pomeroy, Middleport, Minersville and Syracuse were important mining centers. The coal was used to manufacture coke which in turn was used in the many furnaces that smelted iron ore from the surrounding sandstone bedrock. The ore resulted in iron used to produce agricultural implements, ammunition and cannons for the Union Army during the Civil War. During the 1860s, Ohio was one of the nation's leading producers of iron.
Equally important to the prosperity of the area was the salt industry. The first salt well was drilled in 1850 near Pomeroy. Eighteen salt furnaces were in operation during their peak of importance. Nearly 3,600 barrels of salt were produced daily.
The villages of Reedsville and Belleville were important boat-building centers, and it was on this section of the Ohio River that Captain Horatio Crooks introduced the compound-cylinder steam engine.
John Hunt Morgan, the Confederate General, while on his raid through Ohio was hampered in his efforts here to escape into western Virginia. The local militia thwarted Morgan's effort to ford the Ohio near Pomeroy, and as a result, he was eventually captured in Columbiana County.
Today, the area is known as a truck-farming center which produces crops of cabbage, melons, sweet corn and the famous Ohio River tomatoes.
Construction of Forked Run State Park began in May of 1951. In October 1952, the 102-acre lake was completed. The lake was stocked and opened to the public in the following year.
Forked Run State Park is located adjacent to Shade River State Forest. Much of the forest's 2,601 acres is second growth pitch pine and Virginia pine. The area is also rich in hardwoods such as oaks and hickories. Hemlock and mountain laurel are found in some of the deep gorges.
143 campsites are available in five areas.
79 electric sites
64 non-electric sites
Showers, vault latrines, dump station
Pets are permitted on select sites
There is no horsepower limit but boats over 10HP must operate at a no-wake speed on this 120-acre lake due to a recent (2019) rule change.
Two launch ramps provide access to the lake, plus a Division of Wildlife launch ramp provides access to the Ohio River. The ramp on Curtis Hollow Road offers no amenities. The boat ramp at the dam has tie-ups and is wheelchair accessible. A restroom is nearby at the beach parking lot. Boat rental is available.
The park features a 24-hole disc golf course.
Anglers will enjoy nice catches of crappie, largemouth bass, bluegill and catfish. A valid Ohio fishing license is required.
Hunting is permitted in designated areas of the park and the nearby Shade River State Forest. Squirrel, deer, grouse and wild turkey are popular game species in the area. A valid Ohio hunting license is required.
Three picnic areas have tables and grills for picnicking opportunities.
The park features a 400-foot sand beach. Swimming is permitted in designated areas. Please exercise caution while swimming at the beach. Pets are NOT permitted on swimming beaches.
Three hiking trails provide opportunity for exploration, exercise, nature study and wildlife observation.
Honeysuckle Trail - 0.6 Mile - Easy
Lakeview Trail - 2.2 Miles - Moderate
Riverview Trail - 0.75 Mile - Moderate
When conditions permit, park visitors can enjoy sledding.
Volleyball, horseshoes and tetherball
Playgrounds in the campground and day use areas