Looking for a place to go in Ohio where smiles shine as bright as the summer sun? For several generations, Pleasant Hill Lake Park, one of several parks operated by the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District, has been at the center of fun for the many families and friends who know life truly is better at the water’s edge — and on the water — surrounded by the natural beauty of the Mohican region. Whether camping or staying overnight in one of the resort park’s log cabins, repeat visitors and those who are finding the park for the first time will discover more ways to relax, recharge and recreate this year. Here are five reasons why Pleasant Hill Lake Park is an even better place for an Ohio getaway.
The antidote to sweltering summer heat is Pleasant Hill Lake’s cool, shimmering water. How you enjoy it is up to you, whether it’s making a splash at the beach, angling for fish or skimming over the surface in a boat or kayak. The kids will leap for joy over the new WhoaZone, a floating playground with a colorful inflatable obstacle course. The younger children can climb, run, bounce and slide in the dedicated KidsZone, while older ninjas can try out more challenging obstacles and acrobatic moves. Each session in the aqua park lasts an hour, but an all-day pass is an option for those who normally can’t be enticed from the beach.
There’s lots more action out on the 850-acre, unlimited-horsepower lake, which is typically abuzz with jet skis and power boats pulling skiers and tubers in the summer. “Pleasant Hill Lake is the place to go for adrenaline thrills,” explains Andrew Schraedly of Pleasant Hill Marina.
“Our boat rentals offer an affordable way to enjoy the lake for a day or a weekend without the commitment of buying a boat.”
Pleasant Hill Marina has an entire brand-new fleet of rentable pontoon boats ranging from cruisers to high-powered ski pontoons designed for pulling skis and tubes, which are also on hand for an additional fee. If you prefer people-powered options, rent a kayak or stand-up paddleboard and head out on the Hidden History Kayak Trail to learn about the ghost towns of Helltown and Newville, plus the Ohio gold rush that first brought prospectors to the Clear Fork River 150 years ago.
As evening falls, the lake eases into a gentler rhythm with fishing enthusiasts seeking out a quiet spot to angle for bluegill, bass muskie and catfish. Meanwhile, pleasure boaters drift along the surface of the water seeking out the last rays of sunlight.
The demand for RV lifestyle is at record levels, not just for the baby boomer generation, but also for millennials with kids. Pleasant Hill Lake Park has renovated and developed areas of the park to meet the demand of all modern travelers. Restroom/shower buildings have been updated with family restrooms, laundry, air conditioning and heating. With the exception of the youth group primitive camping area, all sites now have 50-amp electrical services and the newer campground loops have full hook-ups for sewer and water. The brand new AREA G, centrally located near the Welcome Center, additionally has enviable 100-foot-long level pads and views of the lake. In total, there are 400 sites for both short-term and seasonal guests.
When the park’s 1950s-era two-bedroom cabins were auctioned off in 2019, Joseph Novak of Cleveland was sad to see them go. “Our family vacationed in them for 50 consecutive years,” he says. “We have great memories there.” Going forward, though, they’ll check into newly built spacious log cabins with creature comforts never before seen at Pleasant Hill Lake Park. These year-round vacation homes accommodate six to eight people and have sweeping vaulted ceilings, cozy overstuffed furniture, central air conditioning, gas fireplaces, full kitchens, Wi-Fi, Smart TVs and hot tubs. The larger eight-person cabins include full-size washer and dryers. It’ll still feel like a classic summer vacation when everyone in the group gathers by the outdoor firepit each night to roast marshmallows.
The hiking, biking and bridle trails winding in and out of the forest and around the campgrounds in Pleasant Hill Lake Park make it easy to get out and explore and spot wildlife. Perhaps you’ll see the resident osprey soaring over the water or the many feathered friends nesting along the Bluebird Trail.
The Mohican area is also a top place for horseback riding in Ohio, and the lakeside equine camp at the park is a beautiful spot to stay with horses. The horse camp facilities included restrooms, high lines and drinking water, plus 50-amp electric campsites large enough for a truck and trailer, each with a campfire ring and picnic table. The park’s own 8.5-mile trail system connects to both Malabar Farm and Mohican state parks, which extends riding opportunities to more than 60 miles of trails, where you can duck in and out of old-growth forest, ramble along rural roadsides, ride next to rocky outcroppings and follow creek beds.
Even though there’s more than enough to keep you busy at Pleasant Hill Lake Park, the Mohican region boasts even more recreational and dining opportunities. Hike or canoe in nearby Mohican State Park. Make a reservation for dinner at the Mohican State Park Lodge, which perches on a hillside on the opposite side of Pleasant Hill Lake. It’s an easy paddle or quick boat ride to its dock from the park. Charles Mill Lake Park, also operated by the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District, is only 20 minutes away and gives you a more laidback lake experience and another spot to rent a brand-new pontoon.
Being at the heart of the Mohican region, it should come as no surprise that Pleasant Hill Lake Park can fill up in the summer. With its upgraded lodging options and amenities, an entire new fleet of boats and the thrilling WhoaZone, aquapark, advanced bookings are essential.