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A Relaxing Shoulder Season, Weekday stay

Hueston Woods State Park, Oh.

http://parks.ohiodnr.gov/huestonwoods 

Campground Overview: Hueston Woods State Park is very close to Miami University…in the Southwest area of Ohio. The direction we traveled from the south took us on numerous winding country lanes through farm country that actually meandered in and out of Indiana and Ohio.

(Disclaimer: I am a tent camper, preferring backcountry sites of solitude and privacy…so take my reviews of campgrounds with a grain of salt). 

The campground area is separated not only by roadway, but a short walk, ride or drive from the reservoir, docks, boat rental beach area and tiny nature center. 

The Campground Office sits at the campground entrance and does offer quite a bit of camping items for its tiny size should you have forgotten anything. The cabins and lodge are on the opposite bank of the reservoir. The tent site area was sparsely occupied and the particular area was empty that I chose. 

All campground sites are line of sight, no barriers or buffer between neighbors(something I do not enjoy)…the trees are mature and tall so offer no privacy. Noise/sound travels so when full, you’ll likely hear your neighbors conversations. 

Unknowingly, it appeared every weekend in October has a big Halloween emphasis, so the upper campground was sold out. I was advised the lower non electric loop would also be sold out…which reinforced my gratefulness for midweek camping. 

With the vast old growth forests, dried/dead branches for firewood was plentiful for a chilly night(38) fire. We evaded the impending rain for once and pressed on. Weekend campers experienced heavy storms as we left. 

There are several hiking trails and biking trails. Streams were dried up at our visit. A cool restoration covered bridge was a short hop from the campground. The lodge has a restaurant, a gift shop, an outside pool and a nicely equipped activity room for older kids complete with numerous arcade games, pool table, and ping-pong table. There is also a token tiny exercise center-Key card entrance for lodge stayers. The A-frame lodge, though nostalgic, needs some TLC and updating(especially the exterior). 

Traffic noise is noticeable, especially during quiet hours. While not excessive, it’s disruptive. 

Deer sighting were plentiful as were chattering tree rats…ahem, squirrels, sorry. Woodpeckers stayed busy overhead. At dusk an overly friendly“masked trash panda” encroached seeking to share my delectable and perfectly toasted s’more…having to be chased off(unfortunately, it appeared he has been fed by campers to be that bold). Other small birds were plentiful as were migrating Canadian honkers. 

Housekeeping notes: In the larger non-electric loop newer restrooms existed…modern bathrooms and showers were clean and stocked with TP. No paper towels offered, only electric hand dryers. Bathroom stalls, like the showers, utilized shower curtains rather than lockable doors. In my tent area…antiquated wood shed pit latrines…that truly needed razed. 

I did not have time to walk any trails, but talked with mountain bikers that spoke favorably. There were several marked trails near the reservoir area. 

Final Thoughts: It was a nice choice for a stop-over as I drifted north. However, I would not want to stay when it’s busy or on the weekends. The reservoir beach and watercraft fishing appears a big draw…and I wish I had brought both my bicycle and canoe.

Quiet Campground with Trees and Shade

Ranger Review: Morsel Spork at Pike Lake State Park

Campground Review:

We stayed at site 67 next to the camp host. The camp site was nicely shaded with a small creek behind it. We had a lot of shade and didn't feel like we were on top of our neighbors. Not all the sites were as spacious as ours so be careful which one you choose. In fact, there was one so small, I'm not sure where a tent would go…maybe plan on sleeping in your vehicle? The campground has drop toilets in a few spots (very clean) and up front they had a great shower house. There were four in total that had the toilet and shower all in one. There are baby changing stations in each of them as well. They were kept nice and clean. We walked up to the camp store which had a ton of items. If you forgot to bring it, they probably had it. There are two playgrounds, one in the campground and one right across the way. There is a small pond/lake that has a beach you can kayak or canoe and fish (renting them is an option). We like to hike and there were plenty of trails to follow. Some of the trails are horse and some are not. There is no cell phone service - we didn't get service until we were on our hike on top of the hill. We will definitely go back again.

Product Review:

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get products to test from time to time- today I am testing the Morsel Spork and Morsel XL. I was able to get 4 products. I ordered 2 Morsel Sporks and 2 Morsel XL. I got green (my favorite color) and my husband got blue. They stay in our kitchen box that we use for camping. For dinner we had a salad and mashed potatoes with Backpackers Shepherd Pie. The fork part of the spork was used for the salad and did just fine. I then used the spoon part of the spork to scrape up the small leftovers (cheese, crouton crumbs, etc.), it cleaned up really well. My husband was able to use the XL Spork to stir in the Backpackers bag, and guess what? It reached the bottom without his hand having to go deep inside to reach the bottom. The rubber edge on the spoon part is like having your own little spatula to make sure you get every last piece of your food. In the morning we had Biscuits and Gravy (in a bag) and again we used the XL Spork and ate right out of the bag instead of dirtying more dishes. They are dishwasher safe, but as my husband tells you, it's clean…I just licked everything off.

I'd recommend getting a Morsel Spork - find the size you need, they have a few to choose from.

Filthy cabin

Cabin 701- We just returned home after a weekend of camping at Dayton KOA. Overall the programming and common facilities were nice. However once arriving we were very unhappy with the cleanliness of the cabin. The cabin smelled of rotten food as soon as we opened the door. There was rotten food in the fridge and in the sink. There was food, like popcorn which is very visible, on the table and window ledges. Nothing has been wiped down and there was dog hair all over the floors. I spent an hour cleaning the cabin with my limited supplies before I would even let my daughter in. In addition the plates and cups were filthy as well. This was our vacation so its disappointing to spend so much time cleaning just to get to enjoy ourselves. Its very apparent the cabin had not really been cleaned all year based off the amount of dirt stuck along the base boards and on the cabinets. I fully acknowledge that we were staying in a cabin and by no means except it to be spotless however for$240 a night I do except that the the rotten food be removed from fridge and sink and the surfaces be wiped down and the floor swept. Someone had came into the cabin since the last guest and changed linens so that was at least good. In addition the thermostates batteries were corroded and needed to be replaced which a maintenance person did bring us so we do appreciate that. In addition the door did not stay shut and after working on it I was able to resolve that issue. Growing up we always stayed at KOAs because they are known for their cleanliness. This is my first time at the Dayton KOA and I am disappointed in the cleanliness. I hope this email will help the management of this KOA step up their game and take care of their facilities.**Update- I received a blanket statement from corporate saying I'd have to work out my concerns with local KOA, Local KOA was contacted first and have never heard back from them.

Blue Bike Trail, Mud Luck Trail

My husband and I went on the Blue biking trail and mud lick trail on separate visits. The biking trail was very open for walkers still! It went through types of scenery and was extremely peaceful. The Mud Lick trail was a little overgrown and the trail was a little harder to find but we still though it was spectacular. The views of the lake were so beautiful!

Excellent staff, well maintained

While the tent spots did not have a lot of shade, the sites are close to the lake and make for some wonderful sunsets. All of the staff we encountered were friendly and helpful and all in all it was a great stay. We rented bikes from the camp store and swam at the beach which was conveniently close to the tent sites. Lots of fun and 10/10 would return again. I'm excited to come back and see how the young trees they have growing in the tent sites take off.

Camp tent

Just explore this place last weekend on non electric site, this park is amazing for mountain biking trail to go with water sport at lake . The camp site was ok . Don’t expect flush or shower at non electric site . I don’t mind as our purpose to find a camp site gave us most privacy and shade just for weekend

Cabin by the river

Cabin A, . Check-in time is 2pm and check out is 12pm. Please remember to bring your own linens, Morgan's does not supply sheets for the cabins. There are 2 twin mattresses and 1 full size mattress. **Helpful information from their reservation email. 

They have 4 cabins in our area which would be nice to get another family to join us.  Then each family has their own cabin to retire to at the end of the day. 

https://www.morganscanoe.com/ This site is close to King's Island and Fort Ancient. It also was next to a bike trail.  Close to the Little Miami Bike Trail this was easy to walk on with my friend and her two little ones.  The trail was paved which was a huge help for those of us who were extra short and didn't always attend to their surroundings when walking. 

We were a little nervous as the cabin is so close the river. This is part of the charm but when you have a 3 year old in your group then it is smart to keep an extra sharp eye on the kiddo as the river is a huge draw.  We enjoyed being able to be close to the river and then being inside with a floor/door which a tent wouldn't have given us that extra security.  We had plenty of space for my friend, her two kids, and me. 

The cabin didn't have heat and I tend to get cold easily.  For the average person in the summer and spring you will be fine. I needed to layer up. We had two little ones so during the day instead of the usual King's Island we went to Entertainment Junction. https://entertrainmentjunction.com/ and I was also able to get a Groupon to reduce the cost. 

Price:$60.00/night for 2 Adults and up to 3 kids(3-16 years of age) 2-night minimum  required for weekends and 3-night required for holiday weekends.  The cabins weren't on top of each other. I felt that this was a better deal than some other local cabin prices and the atmosphere was better as well .

The tent sites which I explored on my walks are huge. A great camp site to have a bunch of friends meet up and camp at as it is so close to Cincinnati. This camp site, is far enough to get away but close enough.  This means that everyone can easily get there after work. We didn't want a long car drive with two little ones and this was a great way to start exposing them to camping in our "backyard". 

The prices equal the local state parks but the sites are bigger.  The area has huge trees and grassy areas to put your tents up without feeling like your neighbors are right in your space.

A fond memory of a cabin

I was looking for this camp site on Dyrt as I had a fond memory of the quiet night that I spent there on a Sept. school night. I needed to be close by and this was perfect for me. 

The cabins based on current information from their website some of them are not being rented due to the massive amount of rains we have had in recent times.  The cabins were clean, warm, and safe. The price was reasonable.  I enjoyed the quiet nature of the campground as I was there during a week day and non-peak season. 

I also knew that it was close to an outdoor drama. I was researching the play again but I have just realized that I have missed the season again. I will try again next year to make it back to the classic play. I went as a child and want to see the play again with adult eyes.  http://tecumsehdrama.com/

I am not a bike rider but I do know that I saw a bike trail very close to this camp ground. 

I went by to the near by town to Frankfort and had an enjoyable pizza meal. The owner of the campsite was able to give me some ideas for meals.  I then put the left overs in the fridge in the cabin.  She even guided me to the cabin when I had trouble finding it as it was tucked away in the hill side (part of the charm).  The leaves falling it made it tricky for me to be confident in how to get to the cabin.

Pretty lake. Campground like a parking lot

Wow! Beautiful place, huge lake, very peaceful out by the water.

Campground was not the best- sites were VERY close together, with most of the campground completely exposed with no shade. It was like trying to relax on a huge parking lot jammed with RVs and people. At most of the sites, you'd literally have a family up against you 20 feet to the left and a family 20 feet to the right. This might be fun for kids, but not fun if you are looking for some peace and quiet.

The bathrooms were average for Ohio State parks- icky and grungy, but not gag-worthy. I'm used to the ickiness of state park bathrooms, so I wasn't grossed out. The showers and toilets nearest my site had big puddles of standing water full of dirt, bandaids, plastic wrappers and other gross items floating there the duration of the weekend. One sink was full of dirt the entire weekend. Showers were hot though, which is always a plus.

Great place for kayaking. There was a little free library, which is a great idea. The snack bar was hopping the whole time. They need to make more than one pot of coffee at a time in the mornings (1 pot when they have 249 sites? They are missing out on $$!!), but I only buy coffee on the morning I'm packing up.

Overall, I enjoyed it here, but I'd only go if there are LOTS of free sites and you know you aren't jammed up against 2-3 other groups of people.

Welcome Back to Hueston Woods

This was my second visit to the park. Some things have changed:) The park was very busy over the holiday weekend.  The movies were a highlight and the Friends of Hueston Woods had some tasty snacks you could purchase.

We opted not to swim at the beach but it is quite lovely. It wasn't over run with Geese.  You have a sandy area, grassy area, volley ball area, and playground. It is one of the better beaches for Ohio State Parks in the southern part of the state.  We bought a day pass to the pool at the lodge. This was a wonderful evening swimming late into the evening past sun set. 

In 2020, some of the campsites are being improved (see sign below). We camped on the RV side in our tent. This area is more populated and the bathrooms are better. It is more "groomed" the grass and landscape.  If you go to the primitive campsite side the grass is mowed but it has a more rustic feel to that side of the camp ground. 

The red covered bridge that is near by you can either drive to or walk to from the primitive side of the camp ground. The bridge is still beautiful but be prepared that folks have taken to writing on the bridge. Some of it is chalk or mud but it doesn't follow LNT. Not a fan of names or other tidbits on the bridge. 

The nature center here does a great program as we were able to look at various birds of prey. This was a highlight. 

We thought about renting kayaks but didn't want to wait. They don't do specific time slots so it is a wait around approach. We had better things to do than wait around. We went out on the trails. Some of the trails were better marked and others were not clearly marked.  We were able to figure it out but it was a bit tricky. 

**Photos and videos are not uploading fully so I will be back to upload more at a later time.

Full Moon night paddle on the Lake

Cowan Lake State Park - A friend and I were able to kayak on the lake the night of a Friday the 13th moon. It was beautiful. Sadly, no pictures as I do not have a water proof camera. The next day we also went out for another paddle under the bright sun.  The boat ramp and parking lot is easy to use and has a good layout.  They do have some tent sites close to the boat ramp area and you can see the lake from those tent sites. 

Our campsite did not have any trees but they have planted a lot of new trees. I assume this due the previous trees having to be cut down due to Emerald Ash borer damage. Our campsite didn't have any shade but others did so you really have to pick wisely. 

The trails here are easy and short.  I loved the informational boxes and tags that they had on the trees or plants.  This is helpful if you have little ones with you or if you are like me and just like to learn about the animals/plants on the trail. 

The park also had a lending library and walking stick lending program. I thought these were simple but memorable features for this park. 

Our campsite was close to two different bathroom structures.  One right behind our site was toilets only. This did mean that sometimes folks would walk on the edge or through the camp site at times.  The other bathroom structure was further down the road and it had both toilets and showers.  The larger bathroom had an ADA shower in it as well. 

The camp store was well stocked and you could rent bikes from the store. These bikes were often all over the campground so be extra careful when driving in the park.  They do have the orange flag but as they are low to the ground it is hard to see them at times. 

The cabins here have both a fire ring and grill. This isn't the case at all Ohio State parks so it was a nice surprise.  They also have a porch that is screened in with a view of the lake. You are not able to walk down to the lake from the cabin but it is a lovely view. 

For those who want to "Walk-On" camp please take a look at the photo of the neon yellow paper as how the park approaches this will be different in the future. 

**Not all photos or videos uploading so some information may be missing. I will try to upload again later.

My first year of Cabrewing

My husband and I did our first year of cabrewing at Morgan's. We had a wonderful time. The price was reasonable and the staff was extremely helpful. We loved the fact that we were able to bring our own canoes. The price us also very reasonable. Our campsite was beautiful, with an amazing view of White Water River. The float itself was also a lot of fun. I wouldn't advise bringing young children though, or maybe even any children. It's basically a party on the river. I'm definitely not complaining either. We will definitely be back next year.

Whoowee crowded and dense!

I've never seen such a dense campground. Granted, I was there Labor Day weekend, but this campground was huge, with very few trees and small lots very close together. It was chaos with people everywhere! 

The shower house was just ok. Not clean, but not extremely dirty. Like most Ohio State campground shower houses are, mildly to very dirty. 

I won't be staying here again because there was no privacy. I go camping to experience nature, not to be 12 feet away from five other families and hear their chaos all day long.

Like a giant parking lot

I didn't stay here but I drove through the campground and kayaked on the lake. The campground feels like a huge field- very few trees, a huge exposed area, and lots are extremely close together. The lakeside camping area looked like an RV parking lot.  I was there Labor Day weekend and it was absolute chaos, with people everywhere and kids just covering the street. Not my cup of tea!

The showerhouse is old and not that clean. The shower seemed to spray the entire wall in front of it- water was everywhere.

The lake was huge and open. Not great for kayaking but nice if you have a pontoon or fishing boat. 

I won't be staying here, not my style.

Great for RVs and families

Beautiful park and camping if you like a parking lot for RVs. Lots of families and pets. Not great for tents but theres a couple ok spots. Not secluded. Very little shade but lots to do at the park and its very clean.

Camp on the river

Location is great it's near Kings Island and the river is perfect for canoeing and kayaking. There is a paved bike trail and Fort Ancient is nearby. It was nice but lots of broken glass people loud into the night and a not so friendly staff. Be warned it's also 5$ to rent a grate for your fire pit.

Spread out well

Nice place, spread out, plenty of room between sites, very little shade as they have cut down a whole lot of trees.

Popular

Nice place but always packed in the weekends. This is a great place to visit if you don't mind a packed campground at top dollar. Very expensive compared to other places.

Great spot

Very family friendly

Quiet place

Great place with lots of area for fishing, small boat access.

Canoeing, Kayaking, and all the fun

Morgan’s is amazing! They have been around for a few generations and provide canoeing, rafting, and kayaking at different trip lengths for a great price. There are plenty of spots along the beautiful Little Miami River Valley to pull your canoe off to the side and sit and hang out. Clean showers and restrooms, transportation from the kayak end site back to your campsite, a market…and conservation efforts on top of it all. They help the bees and monarchs. Love this place!!

Home away from home

I’ve been going to Eastfork for many years now and it will always be a second home to me. The campsites are good sized and wide spread. Most sites are set a bit in the woods which gives you more privacy. Bath houses are always clean and the showers are well maintained. If you like walking the trails, there is a great variety of different paths and maps and signs to assist you. A friend and I went out for a hike and got turned around after dark. We sent a message to the Eastfork Facebook page and they answered us within 5 minutes and helped direct us out! I will always recommend this place!

Really nice.

I like the beach, wish they could have a beach dog to chase away the geese.

Camping is also nice. More trees please.

Love the Meteor Show Campout on the beach. Best even of my summer.

Very well maintained and seemingly popular campground

This campground was packed with people, and yet all were respectful, good neighbours. We were nice and near the bathhouse (purposely, as we were here with young kids), but still not far from the playground (our younger boys' favourite part of coming!). Very well maintained, with a well-stocked shop. The well-stocked shop was especially important…the park is so well-used, that there wasn't a shred of wood to use as kindling or tinder. Some pinecones and pineneedles, but that's it. Thankfully, the shop was stocked with at least 4 different kinds of firestarters, so all are able to get their fires going. Easy check-in procedure, and easy checkout too. If I didn't have my "Cowboy Coffee" Percolator, a highlight for me would have been that the office/shop also carries coffee - both beans and brewed!

All in all, a great time by all!

Amazing place

As always a great experience!! Friendly staff, beautiful grounds, overall excellent

Good for a summer night

After not being able to camp a majority of the summer due to having 2 brain surgeries - it was nice to at least get one camping trip in before the kids start back school. It was definitely not an easy task to get a camp site here as a walk-in. We checked on reserve America several times with no luck. So finally when Friday (8/9) morning came I rushed up to buck creek to get a spot. The camp store opened a little after the posted time. I politely asked the attendant if they had any walk-up sites available and at first she said no. I then said you don’t have anything at all? She finally said they had a few non-electric sites (which was totally fine!) I happily paid for the site and we sat up. The park was totally FULL by evening. The attendant at the store wasn’t the friendliest. It was slightly upsetting she tried to hide that they had a few non-electrics available. We also witnessed her telling children/teens they couldn’t come into the camp store without an adult. And, there was a stray, very scrawny looking cat that hung around the camp store that some people were giving food. The attendant came out of the store and yelled at the kids for feeding it - instead of explaining why they shouldn’t. The camp store is very basic it has wood, ice, lighters, and things of that nature. The camp sites can feel a bit cramped (especially when they’re full) they’re about 15ft from one cement pad to the next. The restrooms were okay and by Saturday evening desperately needed cleaned. Also in the main woman’s restroom only one out of three stall doors actually locked. The showers were warm though so that is a positive especially when camping. The camp doesn’t do very many planned activities. They have a movie at dark which our kiddos enjoyed. They have a basketball court which is usually full of teens. The playground is nice and within walking distance from all the campsites. However our 6 year old was a bit disappointed that the tetherball didn’t have a ball. Buck Creek has a lot of great trails to hike. It is very common to see wildlife especially deer on a hike here. The kids love it and it’s always fun to look for big foot on hikes for them.

Sunset ☀️💓🐥

Beautiful sunset over the water with some new friends ☀️🐥

Love it!! We were by the “secret” fishing spot

We had a lot of fun. Spot was big. Shared open space but that family stayed on their side and we stayed on ours. We had woods behind us and raccoons and even a deer came to visit us. My husband and I stayed up till 4 am just enjoying the wildlife. The deer was in the grassy area beside us and the raccoons were in the woods behind us. Brave little suckers came up and stiles my marshmallows right in front of me. They did not try to attack us or anything just wanted our snacks. Lol. Oh and the best thing is there’s a spot to the lake just one space down to go fishing! We’ve been there twice and only had one hit but it’s peaceful. Lot 162. Also if you scope out the area there’s several public fishing spots between the campground and the beach. Look for them during the day!

Love Longs!!!

Love no cell reception! Quiet clean and staff (owner) is always pleasant and helpful!

Big Grassy Sites, Little Shade

We stayed at site #51 this weekend. The site was was large and grassy, just not a lot of shade. There is nothing to separate the sites so your neighbors can see and hear everything. They have flush toilets and showers, but the bathhouses are not very big. The non-handicap stall was very, very small. Lots of places to get water if needed. The campground has a ton of hiking trails within itself and mountain bike trails too. We did buy wood at the camp store and it was horrible. I would recommend bringing your own. The fire rings were good and the camper pads were pretty level. Dogs are welcome in most sites and they do have full hookup as well. We did have a raccoon up in the tree next to us but it didn’t bother us.